Cowboys Clinch First With Hard-Fought Win
With the game on the line, Culbertson’s defense destroyed Plentywood’s offensive hopes as the Cowboys earned a 32-22 home victory on Friday, Oct. 1.
Behind by only a 30-22 margin, Plentywood began its final possession with 2:22 left and an eye on tying the contest. Starting on their own 28, the Wildcats lost two yards on first down on a tackle by Payton Perkins. On second down, quarterback Reese Wirtz was sacked by Colin Avance and Aiden Perkins. On third down, Kyler Kempton sacked Wirtz back at the six.
Facing a fourth-and-32, the Wildcats tried a short pass and then pitched the ball back to Wirtz. P. Perkins and Kempton tackled Wirtz for a safety to put the game away with 17 seconds left.
“We just played our hearts out,” senior James Kirkaldie, who had an interception, said after the win. “Our defense came through.”
Coach Brian Manning said of the outcome, “It was our relentless effort on defense.”
The victory clinched the sub division title for the undefeated Cowboys.
“It feels surreal,” Kirkaldie said of winning the regular- season championship.
Manning added, “It does feel surreal. After everything we went through last year and then to have everybody work their tails off in the off-season. It shows the character that we have.” Plentywood scored first in the game when Cameron Brusven, running out of a Wildcat formation, went 39 yards on the second play from scrimmage. Brusven kicked the conversion for a 7-0 margin.
The Cowboys received a break midway into the quarter when a bad snap on a Plentywood punt attempt gave Culbertson possession at the one. P. Perkins fought his way into the end zone on first down to pull the Cowboys to 7-6 with 6:20 left in the opening quarter.
The Wildcats were able to increase their lead on a threeyard smash by Brusven with 37 seconds remaining in the period to put the margin at 13-6.
The hard running of Kempton led Culbertson to midfield on the Cowboys’ next possession. P. Perkins then connected with Kirkaldie on a 39-yard touchdown pass. P. Perkins ran in the conversion to put Culbertson up 14-13 with 8:47 left in the first half.
The Cowboys held on to that lead until Plentywood’s Brusven booted a 31-yard field goal, which hit the right upright and bounced in, to put the Wildcats up 16-14 with 54 seconds remaining in the half.
Culbertson, however, opened the second half with a 54-yard scoring drive. The Cowboys reached the end zone on a three-yard run by Kempton, who finished with 144 yards rushing, with 10:04 left in the period. P. Perkins ran in the conversion for a 22-16 lead. The Wildcats responded with a scoring drive of their own, which included a two-yard touchdown run by Brusven for a 22-22 deadlock.
Starting their next possession on their own 15, the Cowboys marched into Plentywood territory on the strong running of Kempton and Kobe Nickoloff. Runs by Kempton and P. Perkins picked up first downs at the 25, 14 and 3. From there, Kempton scored with 9:26 remaining. P. Perkins, a junior quarterback, got in for the conversion and a 30-22 advantage.
Plentywood’s next possession ended on an interception by Kirkaldie with 7:12 left. The Wildcats were soon back in Culbertson territory, but that threat was stopped on defensive plays by Nickoloff and Kirkaldie. The Cowboys gained possession with 4:03 left and was able to run nearly two minutes off the clock before putting the game in the the hands of their defense.
The Cowboys will travel to Ekalaka on Friday, Friday, Oct. 8.