NEW LOTHROP, Mich. — A nightmare first quarter ended Whiteford’s football playoff run Friday night.
New Lothrop turned three Bobcat turnovers into three early touchdowns. Before the Bobcats could string together a meaningful drive, the Hornets led by 28.
Whiteford proved it could drive on the New Lothrop defense, but it wasn’t enough in a 58-22 defeat.
“They are a really good football team, they are fast and strong and came out with a good mentality and took advantage of some of our mistakes,” second-year Bobcats coach Jason Mensing said.
New Lothrop (12-0) started the game at its own 49-yard line. A short run and a Bobcat penalty put it in scoring position immediately, and Central Michigan recruit Amari Coleman showed his speed and elusiveness on a 12-yard touchdown run.
The Bobcats fumbled on the ensuing drive, and Coleman again crossed the goal line, this time from 39 yards out.
The Hornets’ defense again made the Bobcats pay when it intercepted a pass, and Josh Wendling finished off another short drive with a five-yard run. Two plays later, Quentin Taylor scooped up a fumble in the Bobcat backfield and returned it 24 yards as New Lothrop led 28-0.
The Bobcats (9-3) got on the scoreboard on the first play of the second quarter on a two-yard run by sophomore Cody Kiefer.
But any momentum the Bobcats could have gained was squashed when New Lathrop responded. Coleman took a handoff on a third-and-13 play, broke at least four tackles, and ran 60 yards for the touchdown.
Whiteford came back to score on a pass from John Reditt to Colin Lake, but two more New Lothrop scores — including the last one on the last play of the first half — put the game out of reach. The Bobcats had stopped the Hornets on a third-down pass, but the clock stopped with one second left.
Before the Hornets could attempt a field goal, the Bobcats were flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty, giving them a first down at the 4-yard line. Coleman took a pitch and scored his fourth touchdown.
“I thought we were able to move the ball, but we needed a stop to take advantage of that,” Mensing said. “We didn’t get it when we needed it.”
The Bobcats’ biggest play was a 73-yard pass from Reditt to Diller in the fourth quarter. Reditt finished with more than 100 yards passing as he topped the 1,000-yard passing mark this season. Kiefer led the Bobcats in rushing with 56 yards, and Lake added 49 on the ground. The Bobcats gained 283 yards for the night.
Coleman needed only five carries to gain 120 yards for the Hornets. New Lothrop gained 345 yards on offense.
“We accomplished a lot of our goals,” Whiteford senior captain Chris Sims said. “We got better as the season went on. You can tell how we were playing at the end of the regular season and in the playoffs. We had a great year.”
After the game, Mensing thanked his five seniors, including Lake, Sims, Diller, Joel Holtz, and Zach Perry, who was injured in last week’s playoff game and didn’t play Friday night.
“We’ve got to honor five great seniors,” Mensing said. “They invested a lot in our program. We told the young kids that we need to continue to invest ourselves to get to the next level.”