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A dramatic game, doomed by mistakes

by CHRIS PETERSON
Editor | September 13, 2023 2:00 AM

Mistakes cost Columbia Falls dearly as they lost to Dillon Friday 22-19 in what was an exciting, if not gut-wrenching, football game for the hometown fans.

Dillon went into the second half with a 15-6 lead over the Wildcats, but the Cats stopped the Beavers on their opening drive of the second half when Dillon went for it on fourth and two in the Cats territory. The Cats then capped off a drive of their own as quarterback Cody Schweikert ran in from 7 yards out.

Kai Golan’s point after was good and the Cats were down 15-13.

With 9:36 in the fourth the Wildcats took the lead as Schweikert threw a beautiful 42-yard TD strike to Jace Hill.

The Cats went for two, but the attempt failed. Cats up, 19-15.

The defense held stiff against Dillon on the ensuing possession and the Cats got the ball back shortly thereafter. They burned about 7 minutes off the clock, but had to punt.

With 2:12 left in the game, the snap sailed over the Wildcat punter’s head. He picked it up, and got the kick off but Dillon caught a piece of it and had the ball at the Cats’ 18 yard line.

A minute later the Beavers recaptured the lead with a TD by Kee Christiansen on a one-yard run.

Still, the Cats had about a minute left and put on a great drive to get down to the Dillon 18.

With 11 seconds left, they opted for a last shot in the end zone rather than a Golan field goal attempt.

Schweikert couldn’t find an open man so he scrambled for the end zone but was tackled short.

Still, there was one-second on the clock due to an offensive foul, but the Cats didn’t get lined up quick enough for the field goal attempt as the play clock ran out and time expired.

“It was a very winnable game,” a frustrated coach Jaxon Schweikert said after the game.

The Cats made some key mistakes — a helmet-to-helmet penalty in the first half on fourth down kept a Dillon scoring drive alive; a fumble by Hill was ran back by the Dillon defense for a score and then not throwing the ball away with 11 seconds left to preserve another play for a chance at a game-tying field goal was costly.

Still, Schweikert has confidence in his squad.

“Our kids are very resilient and they’ll learn from this,” he said.

He said they practice the last second drill and the intent was to take a quick shot at the end zone and then have enough time for a field goal.

“We thought we’d take a shot to win it,” he said. “We knew it would take 6.5 seconds.”

Even in the loss, the Cats showed the can play with anyone. The defense stopped a powerful Dillon offense on multiple drives. Dillon’s offensive line is big and impressive but the Cats played them extremely well.

Cody Schweikert’s drive in a minute left was also stellar, throwing strikes to Hill and Mark Robison to get the Cats close. Schweikert was 24 of 29 passing for 287 yards. Reggie Sapa had a nice night running the ball with 9 yards on 10 carries.

Hill had eight catches for 122 yards and Robison had five for 75.

These two teams could very well see each other again in the playoffs.

Coach Schweikert noted that Dillon is a championship quality team.

This week the Cats square off against cross-town rival Whitefish in a key conference game in Whitefish. The Bulldogs lost last week to Corvallis, 7-0.

Gametime is 7 p.m.

C-Falls 0 6 7 6 - 19

Dillon 6 9 0 7 - 22

D — Kee Christiansen 8 run (kick failed)

CF — Cody Schweikert 1 run (kick blocked)

D — 28-yard fumble return (kick failed)

D — Sawyer Tackett 32 FG

CF — Schweikert 7 run (Kai Golan kick)

CF — Jace Hill 42 pass from Schweikert (pass failed)

D — Christiansen 1 run (Tackett kick)