GRAFTON— It was a packed house at McKinney Field last night, as the Bearcats kicked off at home for the first time this season against the Lincoln Cougars, but not before honoring the country’s 13 fallen soldiers who tragically lost their lives in Kabul, Afghanistan late in August.
13 members of the Grafton football team entered the field, each proudly carrying with them an American flag as the song “Mr. Red, White and Blue" played in the background and brought the roaring crowd to their feet.
The members met at center field and a moment of silence was held for all American heroes past and present.
With the atmosphere filled with patriotism and pride, the Bearcats took to the field looking to improve on their 1-1 record.
Unfortunately, the Cats would fall short on their opening drive and Grafton’s possession came to an end when a pressure driven pass by Tanner Moats was intercepted in the end zone.
The play resulted in a couple of penalties against the Bearcats, and the interception stood, allowing the Cougars to take over.
Lincoln moved quick and shook the efforts of the Bearcat defense, rapidly finding the end zone to put the first points on the board with 6:33 remaining in the first quarter.
Grafton would continue to face offensive woes caused by the Cougar’s tough defensive line, and their next two possessions would end with the Bearcats punting the ball away.
Lincoln took advantage and put seven more on the board with a successful field goal attempt following the rushing touchdown, bringing the score to 13-0.
A fumble recovery by Kaden Delaney put the Cats back in control, giving them the opportunity to complete two long passes, the second resulting in a Justin Spiker touchdown, putting Grafton on the board.
With 17 seconds left Delaney’s field goal attempt sailed through the uprights, bringing the score to 13-7
The second quarter saw both teams struggling to move the ball as the 12 minutes of action went scoreless.
The start of the third quarter would see Bearcat Arron Barker make a beautiful interception. A 15-yard targeting penalty against the Cougars on the drive put the Bearcats in scoring position. However, Grafton was unable to convert and ended the drive with a failed field goal attempt.
With 3:19 left to go in half, the Cougars took over, able to move the ball down the field in a series of first downs.
With nine seconds left in half, a wild snap sent the Cougars backwards, and a holding call pushed them 10 yards deeper into Bearcat territory.
The score remained 13-7 as they entered the halftime break.
The second half of action opened with Bearcats kicking off to Cougars, who brought the ball down on their own 42.
Penalty flags flew as a scuffle broke out and resulted in offsetting personal fouls and a Lincoln first down.
A Cougars’ ball carrier managed to shake Bearcat defenders and rush into the end zone. A flag for block in the back against called the Cougars TD back.
Unwilling to give up the touchdown, the Cats’ defense held strong, forcing Lincoln to turnover on downs.
Grafton took over with 7:57 left in the third but was unable to get anything going.
The Cougars would once again take advantage of Grafton’s empty possession and find the end zone on a 21-yard carry. With a good kick, Lincoln improved their lead to 20-7.
Well into the third the Bearcat offense continued to struggle, moving the ball ten yards, just to lose that yardage to penalties. Once again, the Grafton drive would end in a turnover on downs.
With 24 seconds left in the third, the speed of Lincoln overtook Grafton defense, allowing them to earn another TD, advancing the Cougar’s led to 20 points.
The final quarter of play would see the Bearcats retain possession for a long drive but ended much like the others, and the ball was turned over on downs.
The Cougars were also unable to convert during the fourth, ending the contest with a 27-7 Lincoln victory.
*Due to time constraints, individual player stats were not available by press time on Friday night.