Wildcats blank Hatchets in final meeting

Washington Times Herald

Jasper’s final trip to Hatchet Hollow ended like most of the rest have — with a Wildcat win.

Washington’s final Big 8 conference football game concluded with senior night disappointment as Jasper (4-3, 4-0) moved one step closer to claiming the league’s final football championship with a 42-0 win over the Hatchets on a cold and dreary Friday night.

After Jasper’s Elliott Hopf took the opening kickoff back 60 yards to the Hatchet 20, Washington (0-8, 0-5) stopped the Wildcats on downs. But Washington went three and out on the next drive, and from there the Wildcats and quarterback Blake Mann went to work, scoring five touchdowns in the span of just under eight minutes.

Joe Wood scored the first touchdown on a 23-yard run with 5:43 left in the first quarter. Wood reached paydirt again from nine yards out with 2:10 remaining on the quarter. Jasper fronted 21-0 at the end of the first after Mann scored the first of his two first touchdowns on a five-yard run with 1:51 left in the stanza.

Hopf got in the scoring column with a 32-yard run less than 2:00 into the second quarter. Mann added the final score via a one-yard run with 9:25 left in the half. All of Jasper’s scoring drives began in Washington territory as the Wildcats five scoring drives used a combined 10 plays in the first half. Overall, Jasper racked up 35 points while gaining just 153 yards of total offense in the first half thanks to that huge advantage in field position - the Wildcats average starting field position in the first half was the Hatchet 27. Jasper recorded six first downs in the opening half while holding the Hatchets to zero first downs and only 28 yards of total offense

Facing a Washington team already low on numbers and dealing with multiple injuries at its skill positions, Jasper coach Tony Lewis wanted to see his team take control of the game early, and that’s exactly what happened.

“We wanted to get on the board early and get momentum. I was a little bit frustrated with our first drive, we can’t do that in crucial situations, we have to take advantage of a big kickoff return,” said Lewis. “But I thought our running backs ran hard, our offensive line did well. I thought Blake read the option game pretty well. And defensively, to put up a shutout, it doesn’t matter who we’re playing, its important that we keep them out of the end zone.”

Case Eckert added the final Jasper score on a 37-yard with 5:35 left in the game. Jackson Kubrick was good on all six of his extra point attempts for the Wildcats.

Hopf finished with 48 yards on two carries, followed by 37 yards on five attempts by Wood. Jasper finished with 219 yards of total offense compared to 38 yards for the Hatchets.

The win sets up a winner take all showdown on Friday between Mt. Vernon, a 41-7 victor over Princeton on Friday, and the Wildcats at Jerry Brewer Alumni Stadium. Both teams will enter the contest with perfect 4-0 conference records. Winning the final Big 8 football championship has been a goal of the Wildcats all season.

“We talked to our kids at the start of the year, that’s one thing we have an opportunity to do. One of our goals was to win the conference the last time,” said Lewis. “It’s right there. We have to have a great week of practice. Mt. Vernon is playing really well, Coach (Cory) Brunson has them playing really well. We have to have a great week of practice and preparation, and be ready for all kinds of stuff.”

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