There are some football games that coaches praise as a shinning example of how to win a game.
Then there are those games that they would rather just forget about. North Union’s 39-15 loss to London on Friday falls in the latter category.
The Cats struggled at every turn to produce much of anything in the way of offense and as a result, tallied only 137 total yards.
The downward spiral started on the opening drive. A fumbled snap led to the Red Raiders recovering the ball on the Cats’ 24-yard line.
Four plays later and with less than three minutes off the clock, London took a 7-0 lead after a one-yard run up the middle by its quarterback and a successful PAT.
North Union head coach Nick Hajjar said the Cats caused a lot of their own undoing by not protecting the ball.
“I don’t think it was anybody was hoping for,” Hajjar said. “At the end of the day, self -inflicted wounds are the things you can’t have in any sport.
“We have been pretty fortunate taking care of the football this year and tonight it just didn’t happen.”
Fumbling fingers plagued the Cats on a punt return after they forced London to a quick three-and-out in the first quarter.
London scooped up the loose ball inside NU’s red zone and scored in two plays.
A failed two-point conversation put the score at 13-0 with a little less than five minutes left in the opening stanza.
Hajjar said with the running game having little-to-no impact, the Cats had to switch to the air.
“When you get behind that fast, you try to stay the course as long as you can,” he said. “It is where that threshold breaks -and it happened pretty quickly – that we had to get into pass mode.”
Even with the switch to throwing the ball, North Union struggled to obtain first downs.
However, an interception by Trevyn Feasel that turned into a 45-yard TD sparked some life into the Wildcats.
Despite the moment of success, London was able to answer with a two TDs in the quarter to take a 34-7 lead into the locker room.
Hajjar said at the break that he gave his players a challenge to win the half, adding they were able to rise to the occasion.
“We challenged our guys at halftime with their body language, pride, energy and effort,” Hajjar said. “There are no moral victories sometimes, but I am proud of the way they played the second half.
“I thought they played hard and with a lot of energy. Hopefully we can build on that.”
The Cats answered with a TD late in the fourth quarter.
North Union worked the ball deep from its own territory with less than two minutes left in the contest.
Quarterback Preston Crabtree linked up with his wide-out on short pass to the sideline and moved down field.
Once the Cats moved inside the five-yard line, Crabtree found the end zone with his feet on a four-yard run.
Feasel made a catch over the middle to pick up two points on the conversion, putting the score at 39-15 with seconds remaining on the clock.
“We talked to the kids about not quitting and as coaches that is reflected in the plays you call,” Hajjar said. “It would have been very easy to sit on the ball there at the end, but it was about the message that we wanted to send.
“As a program, we are not going to quit and hopefully that was reflected in the second half.”
The loss drops the Wildcats to 2-2 on the season.
North Union will travel to Jonathan Alder on Friday.
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