COZAD — The Cozad football team lost its first game of the season Friday but didn’t come away empty-handed.
“We learned that we are capable,” Haymakers coach Brian Cargill said after a 21-13 loss to undefeated Adams Central in a battle between two state-ranked teams. “You want that test and play against a good team like (the Patriots). You want to know, ‘Hey, can we compete against the best?’ Yeah, absolutely. Now we just have to practice and get better.”
The Haymakers, ranked seventh in Class C1, fell behind No. 5 Adams-Central by three scores but had a chance for the tying score with 2 minutes, 24 seconds left in regulation. The Haymakers took possession at the Adams Central 27 after the Patriots had a bobbled snap on a punt attempt. Cozad gained seven yards on three plays and on a fourth down attempt, the Patriots Jacob Eckhardt broke up a pass attempt in front of the Haymakers’ Jacob Weatherly in the end zone.
The Patriots then ran out the clock to move to 4-0.
Cozad (3-1) moved to within a score of Adams-Central with a halfback option pass from Weatherly to Jacob Engel for an 80-yard score with 4:04 left in the game.
The score came a play after Adams Central’s Tyler Slechta was just wide left on a 32-yard field goal attempt.
Weatherly took the handoff and ran to the left edge of the Cozad line and then the left-hander launched about a 20-yard pass to Engel who had got behind the Patriots defense and took it the rest of the way.
“(Assistant) Coach (Dreu) Young came up with that. It was his design and good timing for it,” Cargill said. “We had been running some (play) action off of that (formation) and slipped (the play) in there. Jacob made a great throw to Jacob and it worked out for us.”
The Patriots rode sophomore running back Hyatt Collins to the early lead. Collins rushed for 282 yards and three scores on 40 attempts.
All three of Collins touchdowns came in the first half as the Cozad defense made three stops inside its red zone included a forced fumble and recovery on a Collins carry inside the 25.
“No. 28 (Collins) is a great running back and our linebackers, defensive line and (defensive) backs came down and filled (the lanes) later (in the game),” said Cozad’s Nolan Wetovick, a junior defensive back and quarterback.
Collins had rushed for 379 yards and seven touchdowns over the first three weeks of the season and didn’t slow down against the Haymakers. He had 11 carries in the Patriots 14-play opening drive that covered 72 yards and last 7 min, 36 seconds. Collins capped that drive with a 4-yard run.
He had 19 carries for 159 yards over the first two quarters with the longest run being 42 yards. Cozad’s offense was held-in check for most of the half until the final minutes of the second quarter.
Wetovick, scrambled for a 17-yard score with 35.5 seconds left in the half, spinning out of one tackle around the 10 on his way into the end zone.
“It was a roll-out play and I saw everyone (on defense) drop,” said Wetovick, who rushed for just under 100 yards in the game. “I saw a hole open up and I just ran.”
The Haymakers went three-and-out on their opening drive but recovered a muffed punt at the Patriots 33.
Cozad managed only four yards on the first three plays and a fourth-down pass was incomplete.
Collins took a handoff on the first play on the ensuing drive and carried it to inside the Cozad 30. Collins scored on a 9-yard run less than two minutes into the second quarter to make it 14-0, and then had a 34-yard run on the next Patriots possession to give Adams-Central a three-score lead.
“We just put ourselves in a bad hole early,” Cargill said. “Once we gained a little momentum, the kids were fine. The second half was excellent.”
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