January 23, 2020

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Turnovers Haunt Wildcats Against Belhaven

For the second straight week a Louisiana College opponent scored four touchdowns in one quarter to propel them to victory. This week Belhaven University hit the big play and took advantage of six Wildcat turnovers in route to a 63-46 Homecoming win on Saturday night. The Wildcats return to Pineville for their final home game of 2017 as they host the defending Division III National Champion University of Mary Hardin-Baylor on senior day.


The game began as well as could be hoped for the Wildcats, forcing Belhaven to punt on their first possession then embarking on a nine play, 86-yard touchdown drive. Wayne Griffin found Leondre James for 20 yards to put LC up 6-0 after a failed extra point attempt. A turnover on downs on the Blazers next drive gave the ball back to Cats at their own 28-yard line. A 32-yard completion to Drake Battaglia set up the Wildcats next score, a 30-yard field goal from Curtis Sebren to put LC on top 9-0 with 5:29 left in the first quarter.


Belhaven answered the Cats field goal with a touchdown after a 10-play drive that ended with a 30-yard touchdown pass. Pushed deep into their own territory and forced to punt, the Wildcats left the Blazers with good field position at the start of the second quarter. On the first play of the quarter, Blazer quarterback Hunter McEachern threw a 44-yard strike to put his team on top for the first time in the game.


The Wildcats would retake the lead two drives later as Griffin found James once again, this time for a 20-yard score, to give LC the 16-14 advantage. It only took three plays for McEachern to answer with his third touchdown pass of the night, a 64-yarder that changed the lead once again. After LC rolled the dice and fell short on a 4th-and-short at the Belhaven 44 yard line, the Blazers got the ball back and two plays later scored on a 50-yard pass to widen the margin to 28-16. An interception on the ensuing drive gave Belhaven the ball back with all the momentum. They scored their fourth touchdown of the quarter with 1:38 left on the clock on a 12-yard pass to take a 35-16 lead into the half.


The Wildcats came out of the half and got a much needed touchdown drive, thanks to a flea flicker that allowed James to run free in the secondary for his third touchdown reception of the game, making it a 10-point game. Belhaven answered with a 10-play scoring drive, then three LC fumbles on their next three possessions sucked the air out of the Wildcats sails. Blazer touchdowns following both the second and third fumbles gave them a comfortable 57-23 lead with 5:19 remaining in the third quarter.


The Wildcats continued to fight, as they always do, and scored on a 47-yard touchdown pass from Griffin to Riley DiMaggio and a blocked punt in the end zone by Brandon Zimmer made the score 57-31 after three quarters of play.


An interception by Doriel Yeager gave the Wildcats more life early in the fourth quarter, especially as the offense turned the takeaway into points with a three-yard run by Griffin. The defense forced a punt on the next drive, giving the ball back to Griffin and the offense with a chance to make it a two score game still early in the fourth. They were unable to produce a first down and were forced to punt the ball back to Belhaven. The Blazers scored a touchdown and took four minutes of the clock to all but put the game out of reach for the Wildcats. Griffin added a late touchdown pass to Trey Turner with 1:22 remaining to reach the 63-46 final score.


Wayne Griffin played the entire game for the Wildcats and threw for 384 yards and five touchdowns on 27-of-57 passing, but did throw three interceptions along the way. Drake Battaglia and Leondre James both went over 120 yards receiving in the game and James caught three touchdowns for the second time this season. Aaron Woods finished with 110 yards on the ground on 21 carries.


Julius Johnson led the team in tackles once again with nine in the game including a half tackle for loss. Cade Maxwell had two sacks in the game, and Jesse Provost and Jackson Hetzler each added a sack of their own.


The Wildcats host the #1 team in the country Mary Hardin-Baylor next week in Pineville for their senior game. Kickoff is scheduled for 1pm with senior recognition planned during the pregame festivities. Stay connected to Louisiana College football by following @LC_ftball on Twitter or liking LC Athletics on Facebook.

About Andy Bryson 693 Articles
Founder of Louisiana Gridiron Football and football coach