Lions test Bowling Green’s resolve only to come up short
BOWLING GREEN—The last game of regular season proved to be the toughest one for the Bobcats, even after they earned the title of EMO Conference Champs the week before.
Throughout the season, the scores had been decidedly one-sided, heavy in Bowling Green’s favor. From scoring the most during one half, to racking up the most points for the team in one game, the Bobcats were on a winning streak.
And then the Cardinal Ritter Lions rolled into town. Even though their record was 3 in 5, those numbers were deceptive, when one considered the schedule they had to play for their regular season. They faced off for the coin toss.
The Bobcats won the toss, and No. 1, Marcus Starks, caught the ball deep in his own territory on the kickoff and ran it out to the 35-yard line.
No. 6, Dylan Dalton, took the ball another 9 yards on first down. No. 33, Charlie Bowen, was the go-to for the Bobcats to get that extra yard for another first down. But a fumble on the next play put the ball into the hands of the Lions’ defense, which wasted no time in running the ball in for a touchdown. Cardinal Ritter’s 2-point conversion was good, putting the Lions up 8-0 over the Bobcats.
Bowling Green did not miss a beat, coming back hard after the kickoff. An offsides penalty against Cardinal Ritter put the Bobcats close to a first down. This second offensive series showed that Bowling Green could move the ball against a tough Lions defense. The Cardinal Ritter players had the size to create problems for Bowling Green, though. At least three of their players tipped the scales at 300 pounds or more.
Dalton took the air, connecting with Starks moving the ball into Lions’ territory, with a gain of 21 yards. But then the unthinkable happened—the Bobcats fumble again. This time, however, Cardinal Ritter could not run it back. Bowling Green’s defense made sure the Lions could not capitalize on the turnover, forcing a punt situation. The ball went nearly straight up, taking a Bobcat bounce, and giving Bowling Green great field position for the next series.
Bowling Green was making good progress against Cardinal Ritter, when another fumble killed the drive.
The Bobcats did not falter at this setback. The Lions attempted a running game, but the Bobcat defense was more than a match for them.
With just a few seconds to go, the Lions let the clock run out, ending the first quarter in the lead 8-0.
At the top of the second quarter, Cardinal Ritter tried an air attack, having some success, until a high snap bounced out of the quarterback’s hands. The Lions recovered but lost some yards. They went back to a running game, pushing the Bobcats deeper into their own territory.
Cardinal Ritter was poised on Bowling Green’s 20-yard line when the Lion quarterback threw deep into the end zone where it was picked off by No. 26, Owen Niemeyer for the touchback.
With the ball back in their possession, the Bobcats started pounding up the middle, using Starks and Bowen to push the Lions back.
Once Starks popped through a hole in the offense, he shot down the field, and was stopped just shy of the end zone. Two plays later, Dalton punched through scoring the Bobcat’s first touchdown.
Not holding back, Bowling Green went for the 2-point conversion with success. And that tied the game 8-8 with 5:30 to play in the half.
“Friday was a tremendous team effort!” said head coach Joe Chinn. “Our kids played with great heart and determination!”
Chinn acknowledged that the game against Cardinal Ritter was the first time the Bobcats had been behind all year.
“And we overcame it so it was great to see our kids battle back and never give up,” he added.
Chinn had great respect for the Cardinal Ritter team.
“They are a great team, and that competition was great for our kids and great for our team to see that level of competition heading into the playoffs. I was really proud of all those kids, and I am looking forward to what we can accomplish in the upcoming weeks.”
Bowling Green kept the pressure up against the Cardinal Ritter offense, stopping them from scoring again in the first half. A long throw into the Bobcat end zone was called back because of a holding penalty. That forced the Lions to punt. Cardinal Ritter’s defense toughened up, forcing Bowling Green to punt. On the next series, as the clock ran out for the half, Dalton stopped a run, which would have put the Lions ahead. But the game stayed tied going into the third quarter.
In the third quarter, Cardinal Ritter was able to score another touchdown. The 2-point conversion was no good, putting the Lions ahead again 14-8. But with just under 7 minutes to go in the third quarter, Starks scored again. Another Bobcat 2-point conversion was good, moving Bowling Green back into the lead 18-14.
With 8:10 to go in the fourth quarter, Starks scored again. A 2-point conversion failed, leaving the score 24-14 with the Bobcats in the lead.
From there it was a game of defenses. With just under 2 minutes to go in the game, Cardinal Ritter was able to score another TD, but it could not make the 2-point conversion. Once Bowling Green had the ball back, it was able to let the clock run out, ending the game in the lead, 24-20.