Wildcats slip by the Coalers

Coal City was trailing Wilmington Friday night 28-24 with about four minutes to left when they put together a drive deep into Wildcat territory.

Coaler quarterback Payton Hutchings dropped back to pass on a third-and-13 play when he spotted Blake Harseim racing Wilmington defender Jacob Rodawold for the end zone. Hutchings threw, Harseim and Rodawold went up in the air for a catch and they both came down with the ball. What happened next had coaches and fans on both sides of the field confused by what the referee called.

He threw a flag when the two were in the air, and then when they both landed and each hanging onto the ball, the referee signaled touchdown for the Coalers. After a short conference among referees they signaled that Coal City was being called for offensive pass interference. Then they ruled that Rodawold had intercepted the ball.

Naturally, the home team wearing green was not happy. Coal City coach Dan Hutchings asked for a clarification and it took nearly five minutes for referees to explain what happened. Coal City never got the ball back and Wilmington escaped with the victory.

The rivalry lived up to its billing as lead exchanged seven times, mostly in the second half when the two teams exchanged blows. Wilmington finished with 367 yards of total offense with two touchdowns each scored by Matteo Lombardi and Conner Dempsay. The Coalers amassed 276 yards in a balanced attack of passing (123 yards) and rushing (153 yards). Connor Skubic had touchdown runs of 1 and 6 yards for the Coalers while Max Arias scored one and Sean Micetich made a 39-yard field goal.

The win assures the 8-1 Wildcats will host in the first round of the playoffs while Coal City (6-3) will likely travel.

For a complete report including a photo of the controversial interception read the Oct. 25 issue of the Free Press Advocate or Coal City Courant.