The Festus Tigers Varsity Football team lost a heart-breaker to their crosstown rivals the Hillsboro Hawks on Friday night. Down 34-29 with less than a minute to go the Tigers were driving, but a red zone fumble snuffed out any hope of a glorious comeback and the Tigers dropped to 3-2 on the season.
The inaugural POW/MIA game was a shootout from the jump. Hillsboro got on the board first with a rushing TD, but QB Cole Rickermann quickly answered with a 96-yard strike to Arhmad Branch for a touchdown, knotting the score at six after the first quarter.
Branch commented on the game saying, “I feel like we all played good as a team and we fought every play. We knew it was going to be a dog fight. Just some minor mistakes.”
Festus then look the lead in quarter number two on a five-yard run by RB Kaian Roberts-Day. Emily Holt converted the extra point this time and the Tigers found themselves up 13-6. About five minutes later Hillsboro answered back with a touchdown of their own and locked the score at 13-13 going into halftime.
The third quarter opened up with more back and forth action. Hillsboro again struck first with a long run and a two-point conversion to retake the lead at 21-13, but Rickermann hooked up with WR Isaac Stucke for a 57-yard bomb to trim the Hawks’ lead to 21-20. Hillsboro answered right back though with another rushing touchdown and pushed the lead to 28-20, but the third quarter scoring wasn’t finished. Rickermann found Branch once again, this time for a 49-yard bullet, and the Tigers had cut the deficit to 28-26.
Festus then retook the lead in the fourth quarter on 22-yard Holt field goal and were clinging to a 29-28 advantage. Hillsboro’s pounding ground game struck again though to go up 34-28, but left plenty of time on the clock for the Tigers to pull off the comeback. After marching down the field with less than a minute remaining, Rickermann rolled out but got hit and the ball popped out. The Hawks fell on it and then ran out the clock, breaking the hearts of the Festus faithful.
Eric Ruess commented on the game saying, “It was a very physical and tough fought game. We had too many mental mistakes to come away with the win. North County will be another tough challenge for us we have to clean up some of the easy fundamentals and execute our assignments.”
Festus actually out-gained Hillsboro in this one 509-419, but the Hawks punishing ground game was too tough to stop. Offensively, Rickermann was fantastic going 21-of-28 for 378 yards and three touchdowns and the air attack was pretty much Festus’ game plan. Branch had seven catches for 211 yards and two scores and Stucke had five for 104 and a touchdown. Landen Bradshaw led the rushing attack with 59 yards on 11 carries and Roberts-Day had eight carries for 45 and TD.
Landen Yates had this to say about his team’s play, “I think our team played really well. We just need to make sure we are prepared and all know our assignments on each play (next week) against North County.”
Dalten Yates piggybacked his teammate by saying, “I believe our energy and effort was much better this week and it was a step in the right to becoming the team we want to be. We need to clean up mental mistakes defensively and get many more stops than we did this week.”
This was a true shootout as the two teams went back and forth all game, but the late fumble coupled with a seemingly unstoppable Hawks rushing attack was the difference. Good teams have short memories after games like these, so you can bet the Tigers will be focused and ready for next week as they roll into North County to try and get back in the win column.