Good teams make you pay for your mistakes. The Wildcat football team found that out the hard way Friday night in Chippewa Falls when the Cats committed three turnovers and the Cardinals turned each miscue into a touchdown on their way to a 35-7 victory.
Chippewa Falls remained undefeated with a record of 4-0 overall, 2-0 in the Big Rivers Conference while the loss was the first of the season for River Falls and leaves them at 3-1 overall, 1-1 heading into Friday's showdown with the Raiders in Hudson.
"Hats off to Chippewa Falls. They played a very good game," Wildcat head coach John Bennett said. "We were our own worst enemy. Offensively we never really got it going, and we also lost the battle for field position."
Even when the Cats came up with a big play it backfired on them. The Cardinals' final touchdown came after the Wildcats blocked a 40-yard field goal attempt. But in the scrum for the loose ball, the Cardinals' Mike Adams came up with the ball and ran it in for what went down as a 43-yard touchdown.
"Despite the score, our defense actually played pretty well," Bennett said. "We shut down their running attack, but gave up a handful of big pass plays."
The Wildcats limited the Cardinals' ground game to 94 yards in 33 attempts, but gave up 184 through the air, including touchdown passes of 34 and 24 yards. Each team finished with 13 first downs but Chippewa Falls was able to make the best of the Wildcats' mistakes.
The Cardinals' first touchdown came just one play after the Cats first fumble midway through the first quarter when quarterback Mitch Olson hit Cole Zwiefelhofer for a 34-yard score.
Chippewa Falls led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter before the Wildcats put together their only sustained drive of the night after a Tyler Hunter interception gave them the ball at their own 43.
The Cats ate up over six minutes on the game clock and took 11 plays before cutting the Cardinal lead in half on a 2-yard touchdown run by Levi Johnson, who posted his fourth straight 100-yard game of the year with 117 yards in 27 carries.
Chippewa Falls tacked on another touchdown just before halftime to extend its lead to 21-7, and after another Wildcat fumble deep in their own territory, took three plays to score again and make it a 28-7 game.
Adams' return following the Wildcat blocked kick midway through the fourth quarter provided the back-breaker.
Defensive lineman Trevor Ross and Luke Johnson gave the Cardinals' running game fits and forced Chippewa to go to the air. Ross finished with six tackles, including four for loss of yardage, while Johnson totaled seven stops with three behind the line of scrimmage. Linebacker Ben Wunrow led the Wildcat defense with nine solo stops.
Bennett said the team needs to put last week's loss behind it and get ready to travel north on Hwy. 35 to take on Hudson (3-1, 1-1) in the Raiders' homecoming game Friday.
"We got knocked down," he said. "Now we pick ourselves up, learn from the loss, and get right back to work."
River Falls 0 7 0 0--7
Chippewa Falls 14 7 7 7--35
CF--Cole Zwiefelhofer 34-yard pass from Mitch Olson (Schindler kick), 7:11.
CF--Michael Adams 2-yard run (Schindler kick), 2:03.
RF--Levi Johnson 2-yard run (Marty Herum kick), 3:49.
CF--Cole Zwiefelhofer 24-yard pass from Mitch Olson (Schindler kick), 2:06.
CF--Mitch Olson 1-yard run (Schindler kick), 5:25.
CF--Mike Adams 43-yard blocked kick return (Schindler kick), 7:43.
First Downs 13 13
Rushing 39-176 33-94
Passing 3-8-0-18 11-16-1-184
Total Offense 194 288
Fumbles 3 0
Penalties 7-50 11-80
RUSHING: Levi Johnson 27-117; Tyler Hunter 3-21; Zach Pavlichek 1-14; Ryan Young 5-13; Mitch Webb 1-5; Oscar White 1-3; Dylan Dock 1-3.
PASSING: Marty Herum 2-5-0-0-15; Tyler Hunter 1-2-0-0-3.
RECEIVING: Eric Gilbertson 1-13; Levi Johnson 1-3; Sean Gilbert 1-2.
PUNTS: Marty Herum 7-207.
PUNT RETURNS: Zach Bennett 1-3.
KICKOFF RETURNS: Ryan Young 1-20; Zach Bennett 1-13.
TACKLES (SOLO-ASSIST): Ben Wunrow 9-0; Luke Johnson 5-2; Trevor Ross 5-1; Eric Friede 5-1; Zach Pavlichek 5-0; Eric Gilbertson 4-2; Sam Johnson 4-1; Tyler Hunter 3-0; Mark Bennett 3-0; Marty Herum 3-0; Spencer Myers 3-0; Dylan James 2-0; Sean Gilbert 2-0; Dan Keller 2-0; Lance Westberg 1-0; Zach Bennett 1-0; Ryan Young 1-0; Austin Johnson 1-0; Bobby Stolp 1-0; Marc DeLeo 1-0.
TACKLES FOR LOSS: Trevor Ross 4; Luke Johnson 3; Sam Johnson.
INTERCEPTION: Tyler Hunter.
TIPPED PASS: Zach Bennett 3; Tyler Hunter.