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Cats Corvallis bound after beating undefeated Central

| November 8, 2023 2:00 AM

The Columbia Falls football team won a battle against undefeated Billings Central on the road Saturday, 21-16. It was a game that came down to the wire, as Chance Miller knocked away a Central pass on fourth down to kill a Rams drive late in the fourth to preserve the win for the Wildcats.

The game didn’t start in the Wildcats favor as the Rams drove 80 yards on the first possession of the game and Central’s Ayden Salter scored a TD. The extra point was good and Central had a 7-0 lead.

But the Wildcats answered almost immediately as quarterback Cody Schweikert connected with Miller on a 61-yard TD strike. Kai Golan’s point after was on the mark and the score was tied 7-7.

The Cats defense then rose to the occasion, stifling a Central drive and then responding with a drive of their own. Schweikert ran it in from 18 yards out, Golan’s kick was good and the Cats found themselves up 14-7.

The Cats knocked on the door again late in the second quarter, but Central picked off a Schweikert pass at Central’s 5-yard line and half ended at 14-7.

In the third, Central drove into the Cats’ red zone, but had to settle for a 38-yard field goal to make it 14-10.

In the fourth, Schweikert came up big again, hitting senior wide receiver Jace Hill in stride for a 59-yard touchdown to make it 21-10 with just under 9 minutes to play after Golan’s point after kick was good.

But the Rams responded with another 80 yard drive in less than 2 minutes. They went for 2 to cut the margin to 3, but the Cats stopped the attempt.

The Cats would get the ball twice in the last 5 minutes, but couldn’t get anything going. The defense, however, stood firm — both times stopping Rams drives, including the aforementioned swat by Miller, who atoned for a dropped pass a few plays earlier on offense  that would have given the Cats a first down and the opportunity to run out the clock.

Offense can have its ups and downs, but “defense travels” noted coach Jaxon Schweikert.

The Cats have been smaller, but quicker and lighter than their opposition all season long and it’s proved fortuitous. Nose guard Lane Voermans isn’t the biggest guy on the field, but he might be one of the toughest.

“We think he’s the best in the state,” coach Schweikert said.

They also proved, once again, that the offense can score quickly with the arm of Schweikert and talented receiver corps.

Cody Schweikert threw for 247 yards and ran 16 times for 62 yards for the Wildcats.

Hill had six catches for 118 yards for the Wildcats, and Mark Robison had three for 63.

The Wildcats outgained the Rams 342-293.

They now face Corvallis in the semifinals Saturday at 1 p.m. in Corvallis. Corvallis is a talented and dangerous team — they beat Laurel 24-17 to advance.

The Blue Devils are led by senior quarterback Aydan Mayn, who has a completion percentage of just over 60% and a QB rating of 109.5. Logan Avery leads the team in rushing, averaging just under 101 yards per game and speedy wide receiver Gideon Boswell has 7 touchdowns on the year.

In other words, both teams match up very well and the Cats will have to be at their best.

“They’re really good,” coach Schweikert said.

C-Falls    7    7    7    0    -    21

BC Rams    7    0    3    6    -    16

BC — Ayden Saler 5 run (Jack DeBourg kick)

CF — Chance Miller 61 pass from Cody Schweikert (Kai Golan kick)

CF — Schweikert 18 run (Golan kick)

BC — DeBourg 38 FG

CF — Jace Hill 59 pass from Schweikert (Golan kick)

BC — Xavier Brackenridge 1 run (run failed)