A strong head wind combined with a strong Baileyville B&B squad put the Centre Cougars in an early hole they could not overcome as the visitors went on to claim a 58-12 regional championship victory Saturday at Cougar Field.
The contest ended by point-rule after the first possession of the third quarter.
Baileyville won the toss and elected to defer its decision until the second half. After the Cougars chose to receive, the Falcons chose the wind at their backs.
The ball sailed over the end zone on the kickoff, giving Centre the ball at its 15-yard line. When the Cougars went three-and-out deep in their own territory on the opening possession, Brian Burhoop?s punt into the hard south wind netted the Cougars only 20 yards.
The Falcons? set the tone on its first play as running back Cody Heiman rambled into the end zone from 30 yards out for the first score. Mitch Engelken ran in the 2-point conversion for an 8-0 lead barely 2 minutes into the contest.
Again pinned to its 15 after a touchback on the kick, Centre?s tough start got tougher when Cougar quarterback Tanner Brunner threw a pass into the hands of Baileyville?s Dillon Buessing on third-and-16, setting up the Falcons at the Cougar 11-yard line.
After a false start, Baileyville scored in three plays on quarterback Eric Huerter?s 14-yard lob pass to Logan Haug, who, at 6 feet, 5 inches and 220 pounds, created a tough matchup for Centre defenders all afternoon. The Falcons went right back to him for the 2-point pass for a 24-0 advantage 4:11 left in the quarter.
The Cougars achieved their first first-down of the game on a 12-yard run by Brunner to start Centre?s third possession. But four plays later, his fourth-and-6 pass was batted down by Haug to give the ball back to the Falcons at the Cougar 31.
Two plays after that, Huerter found a wide open Matt Engel?ken in the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown pass. Huerter?s pass fell incomplete to keep the lead at 30-0 with 2:01 left in the quarter.
Centre appeared to break the game?s disheartening trend when Brunner scrambled for an apparent 31-yard touchdown on the Cougars? ensuing possession. But the play was nullified by a block-in-the-back penalty.
It got worse. On the next play, Huerter intercepted a pass thrown by his Cougar counterpart at quarterback, giving the Falcons the ball at their own 21.
Baileyville followed with its longest drive of the day, traveling the 59 remaining yards on 14 plays with Huerter crossing the goal line from three yards out on an end run. The 2-point pass fell incomplete, but the lead was now 36-0 with 6:15 left in the half.
After one more three-and-out by the Cougar offense, Bailey?ville, fueled by a 38-yard opening run by Austin Schraad, scored two plays later when Engelken ran in from 10 yards out. Another incomplete conversion pass kept the score at 42-0 with 3:32 left.
Centre then broke through for its first points when Brunner returned the ensuing kickoff into the wind about 65 yards for a touchdown. His 2-point run ended short of the goal line, but the Cougars were on the board at 42-6 with 3:21 left.
Baileyville hit the half-century mark a few minutes later on a 27-yard pass from Huerter to Haug, who again was wide open for the score. The Falcon duo repeated the connection for a 2-point conversion pass and a 50-6 lead with 0:38 seconds left.
But that was enough time for Centre to score what turned out to be its last touchdown of the season on a flea-flicker pass to quarterback Brunner. Casey Kristek caught Rustyn Kerbs? halfback pass for 2-points, but was ruled out of bounds.
Following halftime, all Baileyville needed was one more score and a 2-point conversion to end the game. They took the opening kickoff from the 15-yard line and scored seven plays later with Engelken running in from 5 yards out with 9:57 left in the third quarter. Blake Reinecke?s halfback pass back to Huerter for two points shut the door on the Cougars? outstanding season.
Centre finished with a 9-1 mark while Baileyville B&B moves on with an 11-0 record.