Beach douses Wildfire with ground attack

Beach jumped out to a big early lead, then added just enough to keep the Mott-Regent/New England Wildfire at bay for a 42-26 triumph Friday in Mott.

Brad Mosher

The Beach Buccaneers scored early, grabbing an 8-0 advantage in the early minutes of the game.

Beach’s Clay Mattern then added a second score in the final moments of the first quarter, giving the visitors a 14-0 lead with a big run off the left side. The successful conversion made the lead 16-0 with 2:22 left.

Just two minutes into the second quarter, the Bucs struck again, getting a touchdown but no conversion to build up a 22-0 lead

But the Wildfire started to rally, scoring first with about eight minutes left in the half by quarterback Isaac Frey.

But the Bucs responded with another score, taking a 28-6 lead.

Then, just before the half, Beach almost scored again, only to have senior Cody Perkins catch up to the runner just before the goal line and stripped the ball for a touchback and allowed the Wildfire to have one more try before the half.

In the second half, the Wildfire had the first drive, which finished with senior Tate Nordby scoring and helping the home team cut the Beach lead to 28-18.

But the Buccaneers struck back, scoring with 7:43 left in the third quarter when Mattern went in from 12 yards out to make the lead 36-18.

Both teams would score one more time.

The Wildfire hit first, with the quarterback connecting on a 51-yard pass to Nordby for a score with 5:47 remaining in the third quarter on a second-and-15 play. They connected again on a two-point conversion, closing the scoring gap to 36-26.

The Wildfire was able to stop the Bucs for most of the fourth quarter, until Mattern broke through the defense for a score with just 1:23 left in the game. The Beach conversion attempt failed, leaving the Wildfire down by 16 points with just over a minute left in the game. Just a few plays earlier, the Bucs fumbled the ball deep in Mott-Regent-New England territory, but the visitors recovered the ball and picked up a first down in the process. That set up the final score of the game.

The Wildfire had one drive late which was stopped near the Buccaneers’ 20-yard line by an interception by Brannon Davidson of Beach.

The loss dropped the Wildfire’s record to 0-4 in nine-man Region 5 play and 1-5 overall.

The Buccaneers improved their record to 2-3 and 2-4 overall.

The Wildfire will travel to Underwood High School to play the Central McLean Cougars tonight, before returning Oct. 5 for their final home game against the Grant County/Flasher “Storm” in a 7 p.m. contest.

“I am proud of the kids. I am proud of their effort … really proud of their heart. Somethings don’t line up and can never underestimate that attitude and effort that never shows up on the scoreboard,” Wildfire coach Nate Zachman said after the game.

According to the coach, the Wildfire was able to score against the Buccaneers after the team made some adjustments.

“But, it was the big fourth downs that we didn’t convert on that kind of hurt… just the little things that you go over on the first day of practice that we didn’t capitalize on,” the coach added. “We just gave up a little too much to them the whole game.

“We are just going to come back to work on Monday and keep our heads up and keep playing football. We are going to finish on a high note,” the coach added.

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