Tuesday, 27 February 2024
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Wildcats Win at Wellsville Advance to Sectionals
By Justin Fluke
Copyright: MSC Sports

The battle tested Holton Wildcats used their physical style of football to dominate time of possession and post a super impressive 21-13 win at Wellsville to claim another Regional football title. Holton was perfect 3 for 3 on fourth down tries in the game while Wellsville converted only once on five fourth down attempts. The Cats also converted nine times on third down as they ran the ball 59 times and racked up 295 total yards to improve to 6-4 on the season. 

After going three and out to start the game on the road, Holton's defense got their first (and maybe biggest) fourth down stop of the night with a goal-line-stand. Wellsville got to the five-yard-line and lined up for a field goal, but following a Holton encroachment penalty opted to run a fourth down play and was stopped inside the three-yard-line. The Wildcats then drove 97 yards in 18 plays and took nearly 8 minutes offt the clock before opening the scoring with a Cael Frazier two-yard touchdown run. 

The prolific Wellsville offense that came in averaging 45 points and 385 yards per game only got the football six possessions as quarterback Willie Dorsey was faced with constant pressure and blitzes completing just 14 of 24 passes for 199 yards. The Eagles got 61 of those on a pass play to Dezmond Winton, which tied the score at 7-7 with 7:51 left in the second quarter and remained the score past halftime. Wellsville never got their ground game going and after an early 17-yard scramble run by Dorsey, ended up with only 40 total rushing yards on the night.   

Holton stopped Wellsville on fourth down and one with a great play by Kaydn Wheeler and Dalton Roush late in the first half then got a Cale Hein deflected pass to stop the Eagles again on fourth down in Holton territory to open the third quarter.  Holton then took the lead for good with a 12-play, 73 yard drive as Frazier found the endzone again on a 21 yard touchdown to make it 14-13. The sophomore fullback finished the night with 82 yards on 13 carries.

Wellsville put together a scoring drive as Dorsey found Winton again for a nine-yard TD pass on the first play of the fourth quarter. However the extra point kick missed, leaving Holton with the lead. Following an impressive 42 yard kickoff return by Alec Frazier, the Wildcats extended the margin with another nine-play drive that included a beautiful pass and catch from seniors Eli Hallauer to Jackson Bear for 19 yards on a fourth down and 11 play before Abbott Hundley scored on a 15-yard TD run with 6:56 remaining.

Korban Wilson made all three PAT kicks for the Cats, which gave them an 8 point lead before Wellsville's final drive. The Eagles, who end their third straight season with just one loss (9-1) converted a fourth and eight but later failed on a fourth and five before Holton milked away the final 3:25 of the game to secure playoff win number 60 for Coach Brooks Barta.

Hundley led the ground game with 134 yards on 28 carries while Kyler Jackson added 43 yards on 10 totes and the Cats limited mistakes and finished drives with touchdowns, which had hurt them earlier in the season. Rylan Amon and Trevor Barnett also had big nights on both sides of the ball as Holton's eight seniors all had big-time performances in front of a spirited and motivated fan base.  

Holton's 26th straight playoff campaign continues and the Cats return home to face Frontenac (9-1) this Friday night. This will be the sixth November playoff meeting since 2015 between these teams with Holton holding a 3-2 advantage. However, Frontenac won the last matchup at home in 2021. 

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