Wildfire drop season finale, miss playoffs

After making a deep playoff run in 2016—and returning playmakers Brady Wegh and Josh Wallace—the Wildfire had their sights set on exceeding last year’s performance. But after a shootout with fellow Region 5 opponent Bowman County resulted in a 54-50 loss, Mott-Regent’s season ended on Friday, Oct. 7.

By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor
cbenz@countrymedia.net

After making a deep playoff run in 2016—and returning playmakers Brady Wegh and Josh Wallace—the Wildfire had their sights set on exceeding last year’s performance. But after a shootout with fellow Region 5 opponent Bowman County resulted in a 54-50 loss, Mott-Regent’s season ended on Friday, Oct. 7. It was the second game in a row that the Wildfire posted 50 points or more, but also the second time in just two weeks that they allowed more than 50 points.

The Wildfire held a 10-point lead after the first quarter, but the Bulldog offense kicked it into gear, and put up 16 points in each of the next three quarters.

Wegh did most of the lifting for Mott-Regent. He ran for 225 yards and threw for another 313. He scored six, two through the air and four times on the ground, including an 80-yard run in the third quarter.

Wegh connected with Hunter Crist on a 44-yard toss for the Wildfire’s fourth score of the game. The conversion was good as Wegh hit Crist again with the pass. Crist also added another score in the fourth quarter with a 12-yard rush.

Cody Perkins also caught at touchdown pass from Wegh. In the third quarter Wegh hit Perkins for 28 yards, and again came down with a pass from Wegh for the two-point conversion.

Bowman County’s Matthew Carlson and Adam Powell propelled the Bulldogs’ offense. Carlson carried the ball 26 times for 246 yards and scored four times. Powell went for 166 yards on 16 carries and had two touchdowns.

The loss dropped Mott-Regent to regional record of 2-4, finishing fifth in the region, and one spot shy of making the playoffs.

Co-head coach Nate Zachmann admitted the loss was hard to swallow.

“No team wants to go out like that,” he said.

The Wildfire, already short on depth with just 18 players at the beginning of the season, endured multiple injuries to key players this year.

Senior quarterback Brady Wegh missed a game and a half with a concussion, and junior running back Josh Wallace hurt his ankle in the Hettinger/Scranton game and never regained full strength. In addition to those two, Hunter Koeplin had been playing most of the year with a nagging knee injury, and they lost Aaron Roth to a hamstring injury during the Bowman County game.

“When you have injuries like that, it’s part of football,” Zachmann said.

The injuries seemed to have effected the defense the most, and Zachmann agreed. In back to back losses the Wildfire put up 104 points, but also gave up 116.

Though expectations weren’t met with success, Zachmann said his squad never made excuses, and never quit.

“The kids never gave up, we practiced so hard,” Zachmann said. “I will never doubt our kids’ effort, and attitudes.”

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