After trailing for much of the first half, Cumberland (4-6) pulled away in the final two quarters for a 56-28 victory over Evarts in seventh- and eighth-grade football action on Thursday.
“The injury bug got us toward the end of the season, but this is a good group of eighth-graders that have worked hard,” said Cumberland coach Wes Bailey. “They have played tough, and I’m going to miss those guys.”
The Wildcats recovered a punt after it hit a Cumberland returner to set up the game’s first score. Lamar Burkhart carried the ball two times for 25-yards and a score on the drive. Jake Napier added the two-point conversion to put the Cats up 8-0.
Joey Swanner responded for the Skins, with a 24-yard touchdown run with 2:47 left in the first quarter. Swanner also ran in the two-point conversion to tie the game.
Swanner broke free for a 45-yard touchdown run on Cumberland’s next possession. The extra point attempt was blocked and Cumberland led 14-8.
Burkhart set up Evarts’ next score with an interception at midfield. Quarterback Ethan Baird capitalized on the turnover with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Jake Bush. Burkhart ran in the two-point conversion to put Evarts up 16-14.
Baird connected with Bush again for the next score, this time on a 32-yard pass. The two-point attempt failed and the Wildcats led 22-14 with just 1:31 left before the break.
However, Swanner took over for the Skins from that point. The eighth-grade running back scored on a 46-yard run and an 18-yard run to put Cumberland up 26-22 at the half.
“Joey is an amazing player. This has been his team, and he has put everybody on his back,” Bailey said. “It is a good feeling to be able to hand the ball off to him and let him do his thing.”
The Skins pulled away in the second half.
Coker and Jake Casolari both scored in the third quarter as Cumberland took control. Jacob Cornett added a two-point run to make it 40-22.
Donald Kelly added to the lead with a 5-yard run to open the third quarter. Sean Johnson ran in the two-point conversion to make it 48-22.
Napier set up the Cats’ next score with a 65-yard kick return to the 2-yard line. Baird scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak to close the gap to 48-28.
Hunter Nease closed the scoring with a 52-yard touchdown run with 5:24 left in the contest. Johnson added the two-point run.
Evarts improved to 9-0 in fifth- and sixth-grade action with another dominant performance. The Wildcats scored the game’s first five touchdowns on their way to a 43-8 victory over Cumberland.
“The backs ran the ball hard, and the line blocked good. The boys have worked hard and I am proud of them,” said Evarts coach Perry Steele.
Christian Jones opened the scoring with a 10-yard run on the first drive. Jordan Steele ran in the two-point conversion.
Jarrett McKenzie added to the Cats’ lead when he picked off a pass and raced 60-yards for the score. Josh Burkhart ran in the two-point conversion to make it 16-0.
Brendan Osborne scored on a 48-yard run with 5:08 remaining in the second quarter. Jordan Steele added an extra point to push the lead to 23-0.
After Bradley Milwee recovered an onside kick, Jones raced in from 30-yards out for his second score of the game with 4:10 left before the half. The kick failed and Evarts led 29-0 at the break.
McKenzie recovered a deep kick at Cumberland’s 28 to set up the next score. Osborne capitalized with a 28-yard touchdown run to make it 35-0.
Cumberland (2-7) scored in the third quarter on a 45-yard touchdown pass from Quinton Boggs to Xavier Simmons. Bradley Wilson added the two-point conversion.
Osborne tacked on another touchdown with a 58-yard run in the fourth quarter. Lane Jones ran in the two-point conversion to close the scoring.