On Friday night, the Wildcats took control of a nip-and-tuck clash with Fort Zumwalt West thanks to a pair of late touchdowns, prevailing for a 45-26 week one win at Fort Zumwalt West.
“I think we came out a little slow and we were executing the right things but we didn’t have the energy,” Eureka junior quarterback Tyler Kennedy said. “We talked about it at halftime and we came out and exploded.”
Zumwalt West gave the Wildcats gave Eureka all it wanted for just over three quarters of play.
The Jaguars pulled within 31-26 on a Jake Verschoore to Marquis Majors 38-yard touchdown strike with 11:45 left.
Zumwalt West failed on the two-point conversion attempt and Eureka seized the momentum, claiming the victory with a 25-yard scoring pass from Kennedy to Jhalon Asher-Sanders, and a 10-yard touchdown run from star running back Hassan Haskins. Haskins, the Wildcats super senior back who is a Division I recruit, finished the night with 188 yards on the ground.
“When you have that type of talent and energy on the field, it’s hard to stop,” Kennedy said.”
Zumwalt West lost a golden chance to get on the board first when senior quarterback Jake Verschoore was picked off by Eureka’s Trent Obermoeller near the Wildcats goal line.
Eureka also had a its first drive of the night come up empty stalling deep in Jaguars territory.
The Wildcats got a 3-0 lead on a Tom Burke 45-yard field goal late in the first quarter.
Zumwalt West responded with an 80-yard march that was capped by Verschoore hitting Majors for a 33-yard touchdown toss off of a blown Eureka coverage, putting the Jaguars up 7-3 with 1:10 left in the first quarter.
Eureka answered quickly as Haskins scored on a 4-yard run in the first minute of the second stanza.
West tied it at 10-10 on Trey Durbin’s 35-yard field goal with 5:39 left in the first half.
The Jaguars forced a three and out in the final two minutes of the half and took a 13-10 lead as Durbin booted a 30-yard field goal as time ran out.
The big play scoring continued in the second half. Zumwalt West overcame a 17-13 deficit thanks to a Verschoore to Majors 59-yard bomb that made it 20-17 with 9:52 left in the third quarter.
Kennedy put the Wildcats back in front on a 10-yard scoring run.
After stopping Zumwalt West on its next series, Eureka began to pull away a bit as the Wildcats use a bit of trickery to score. On second down, Kennedy latereled to Asher-Sanders, who hit a wide-open Avery Taggert for a 50-yard touchdown aerial making it 31-20 with 2:07 left in the third quarter.
“They got us with the trick play, we were right there to make the play but we don’t,” Zumwalt West coach Neil Nowack said. “So, that’s on us and we gotta make that play. The big difference for them (Eureka) is they were able to run the football.”
Vreschoore and Majors brought the Jaguars back early in the fourth quarter on a 38-yard post route play for six that cut the lead to 31-26. The two-point play failed as Vershoore was sacked for a loss.
After the teams traded interceptions, Kennedy hooked up with Asher-Sanders on a 25-yard TD pass pushing the Wildcats lead to 38-26 early in the fourth quarter.
Haskins finished out the scoring with a 10-yard run with 3:45 to go.
The Wildcats were glad to get out with the victory.
“We’ve got a bunch of fighters, a bunch of brothers who put the work in in the offseason,” Eureka coach Jake Sumner said. “They are a battle-tested group and it just kind of showed tonight. They fought for each other till the end.”
It was not the finish that Zumwalt West wanted but a lot of positives showed for the Jaguars against Eureka.
“We had some opportunities tonight that we left off the board that we have to execute better on and when those things happen, I think we’re gonna be a dangerous offense,” Nowack said.
Fort Zumwalt West (0-1) looks to get into the win column next Friday in a road contest at Class 5 power Fort Zumwalt North.