In what felt like an ol’ west shootout, the Wildcats and Trojans lived up to the billing of the 11-Mile War. In one corner was Windthorst riding high on winning 11-straight against Archer City dating back to 2008 and ranked No. 4 in the state; in the other were the up-and-coming Wildcats looking to prove they belong.
Tied at 14 with 4:33 remaining in the contest, the Trojans threatened near the Wildcats’ 14. Belcher took the snap and looked to fire a bubble screen to his left. AC senior defender Luke Haehn jumped the route and returned the interception 86-yards for a go-ahead touchdown.
On the ensuing extra point, an errant snap forced John Machtolff’s kick to sail wide-left, giving the Wildcats a 20-14 lead.
What a difference three plays make.
The Trojans needed just three plays to march right down the field and score the game-winning touchdown with 3:16 left on the clock to escape Archer City with a 21-20 victory on the Wildcats’ homecoming.
On the first play since relinquishing their first lead of the day, Trojans’ senior running back Ethan Belcher broke through the middle for 53 yards to move the ball down to the 12. Two plays later, senior Cy Belcher capped the drive on a dive through the left-side of the offensive line from six yards out with 3:16 to play. Zane Hackley nailed the extra point to put the Trojans back on top, 21-20.
The Wildcats had their share of opportunities to change their fortune in the final minutes. Immediately following the touchdown, AC marched down to the Windthorst 15 before junior quarterback Ty Bates’ pass came up short on fourth down.
With one time out left and 1:50 on the game clock, Archer City forced a three-and-out with time to run one more play.
From their 45 yard line, Bates’ long heave was pulled down by Gage Gillispie. After a short run, Gillispie was brought down in-bounds just shy of the 20 yard line. Unfortunately for the Wild
cats, the umpire blew the ready for play signal to wind the clock and AC ran out of time.
In a game loaded with star-power on offense, Windthorst’s Ethan Belcher churned out yards like butter, getting 34 touches for 232 yards on the ground and a pair of touchdowns.
Content with controlling the clock and keeping the high-flying AC offense off the field, Trojans’ quarterback Cy Belcher went 6-for-13 with 105 yards and an interception. Senior Kyle Wolf provided the top-target for Belcher, catching five passes for 91 yards.
Archer City rolled up 459 yards of offense, including 361 through the air. Bates finished 24-of-42 for 343 yards, including 24 on the ground and two touchdowns. Seniors Carter Hilbers and Callen McCasland each eclipsed 100 yards receiving. Hillbers pulled down 14, including a 32-yd touchdown, while McCasland had eight grabs.
Archer City hits the road for the first time this season on Friday, Sept. 18, when it travels to Henrietta. Windthorst remains on the road as it heads to Seymour.