Darren Doyle, story and photos
Football fans got their money's worth last night at WKU's Houchens-Smith Stadium as the Edmonson County Wildcats took on the Warren East Raiders in an electric atmosphere.
The game was supposed to be at the Raiders' new field, but because of ongoing construction at East the game was moved to the neutral site.
The Wildcats found themselves in an early hole as the aggressive Raiders jumped off to 7-0 start on a 14 yard touchdown run and extra point only three minutes into the ballgame. The Raiders scored again with just over four minutes to go in the quarter on a three yard run and extra point to lead 14-0.
Edmonson County finally got on the board with a two yard touchdown from Daniel Caudill with a little over four minutes into the second quarter. Brett Brannon's extra point made it 14-7. Brannon hobbled through most of the game as he fought to overcome an ankle sprain early on.
East stopped the Wildcats' momentum with a 57 yard touchdown run. The extra point was good and East's lead was extended to 21-7. The Raiders answered that with a 34 yard touchdown pass and extra point to lead 28-7 with just over two minutes left in the half.
The Wildcats scored on another Caudill touchdown, a three yard run with only 14 seconds left in the half. The extra point was no good and the EC went into the locker room down 28-13 at halftime.
The second half was interesting to say the least as some strange officiating came into play with an inadvertent whistle and a flag on what appeared to be a sure touchdown for Brayden Carey. Coach Nathan Smith was furious as the Wildcats seemingly missed a scoring opportunity and a momentum boost. The official said throwing the flag was also his mistake.
There was also an issue with the same official claiming that Edmonson County had been playing with illegal footballs. He claimed that the footballs had to be either Rawlings or Spalding brand and Edmonson County had been using Wilson. Athletic Director Kyle Pierce disputed the official and said that the specific brands only applied in playoff games. The official told Pierce he'd be forced to report the balls to the KHSAA but the game continued in spite of the confusion.
Caudill scored again in the third quarter but the extra point was no good as the Wildcats cut the lead to 28-19. East answered with another touchdown but failed on the two point conversion attempt with 1:52 left in the quarter.
Brayden Carey caught a 31 yard touchdown pass from Tucker Cole to cut the Raider lead to 34-25 with just over a minute into the fourth. An onside kick and recovery from the Wilcats led to another touchdown and extra point as they inched their way to a two point deficit, 34-32 with 8:44 to go.
Edmonson County attempted another onside kick and appeared to recover again but officials ruled possession to East.
The Raiders sealed the deal on a 24 yard touchdown with 1:29 to go. The extra point made it a two possession game and the Wildcats were unable to recover, falling 41-32.
Coach Nathan Smith said although the Wildcats showed an amazing effort in the second half, the slow first half was the difference in the game.
"When you dig yourself a hole, sometimes it's just too much to get out of," Smith said. "We just didn't have good execution at times and it's something we're going to have to work on."
Smith said the Wildcats' focus will be execution as they now look to bounce back at next week's homecoming game at Wildcat Stadium against Metcalfe County.
The Wildcats are now 2-2 on the season.