In a cold, hard fought home game on Friday night, the Ellsworth Bearcats came up short to the Phillipsburg Panthers, losing 22-21. The ‘Cats showed a lot of improvement on both sides of the ball. Ellsworth’s comeback was not enough, handing the Bearcats another loss on the season.
The game began with Ellsworth kicking off to the Panthers. Phillipsburg returned the ball to its own 40 yard line, followed by a couple long drives resulting in a 3 yard touchdown run. The extra point kick was blocked by the Bearcat defensive line. Ellsworth began its first possession on their own 27 yard line. The drive was quickly stopped by a forced fumble recovered by the Panthers on the Bearcat 8 yard line.
Ellsworth started the second quarter with a forced turnover on downs. Soon after, the ‘Cats fumbled again to give the Panthers possession of the ball. Phillipsburg responded by adding more points to the board with a 10 yard touchdown pass. The 2 point conversion run was successful, giving the Panthers a 14-0 lead. The half ended with multiple turnovers forced by both teams, including an interception by senior Trey Anderson.
The Bearcats began with possession to open up the second half. Just four minutes in, Ellsworth scored its first points with a 24 yard touchdown run by Anderson. The PAT kick was good by Dayton Davis. Directly after the touchdown, the Bearcats recovered their own onside kick. However, they were forced to punt quickly after.
The final quarter was full of action. The ‘Cats started with a 12 yard touchdown run by senior Luke Sharp. The 2-point conversion by senior quarterback Dawson Kratzer was good, giving Ellsworth a one-point lead. The Panthers responded with a 1 yard touchdown of their own. The two-point conversion was successful, giving the lead back to Phillipsburg. After a couple drives by both teams, the Bearcats attempted to get the win with one final drive. With just 21 seconds left, Ellsworth scored with a 21-yard pass from Kratzer to Anderson with a spectacular catch in the end zone. Only down one point, the ‘Cats decided to go for the win on the extra point attempt. The 2-point conversion run by Sharp was stopped short of the goal line, ending their chances at the comeback win. The Panthers kneeled to end the game, winning 22-21.
The loss gave the Bearcats a record of 1-5. Ellsworth will travel to Minneapolis next Friday night in the final regular season game. The Lions are 3-4 on the season. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.