EL DORADO — Facing a fourth-and-goal at the one-yard line with just 10 seconds to go, Independence was on the verge of ending a year’s worth of frustration on one snap of the football. Unfortunately, that frustration will continue for one more game.
On the Bulldogs’ final offensive play of the game, they were stuffed at the goal line, which kept them on the losing end of an 18-16 decision to El Dorado Friday night at BG Products Veterans Stadium.
“Our kids played well,” said IHS coach John Black, who was making his Bulldog debut following a nine-year run at Neodesha. “I thought we moved the ball pretty well. The defensive played extremely well. We gave ourself a shot there at the end. I’m probably going to be questioning myself for awhile about not kicking the field goal there, but we came up on the short end of this one. It hurts now, but we’ve got a lot more football to play this season.”
The Bulldogs have now lost 14 consecutive games overall, which included an 0-9 campaign a year ago. They have not been on the winning side of the scoreboard since Sept. 29, 2017, when they rolled past Anderson County 56-14.
At 0-1 overall, Independence will make its first home appearance of the season on Sept. 13 when it takes on Labette County in the Southeast Kansas League opener for both teams. The Grizzlies also enter that contest at 0-1 following a 40-0 home loss to Class 5A power Pittsburg on Friday.
The Bulldogs had the early lead Friday against the Wildcats. Amauryon Farley ran into the end zone from 30 yards out to give the visitors a 7-0 lead after one quarter of play.
El Dorado came back with a pair of second-quarter touchdowns — a 41-yard run by Dravin Fowler and a one-yard dive into the end zone by Zach Wittenberg.
Down 12-7 at the intermission, IHS regained the edge in the early stages of the third quarter on a five-yard run by Zach Moses. The Wildcats pounced again with a 51-yard scramble for six by Gannon White that gave the host team an 18-13 edge.
Independence narrowed the gap to just two at the end of the third quarter on a 38-yard field goal by Davis Merrick.
That’s where things stood the remainder of the game … although it would go down to the wire.
In the closing moments, IHS took advantage of a nice punt return to get into El Dorado territory, marching down the field to a first-and-goal inside the 10-yard line with less than a minute to go. The Bulldogs eventually found their way down to the one and had one timeout left in their pocket, using it with 10 seconds to go.
Independence could have attempted a field goal to possibly go on top but chose to go for the touchdown instead. IHS was tripped up short of the goal line in the closing seconds to seal its fate.
Neither team had much offense in the contest — El Dorado finishing with 248 total yards compared to 158 by Independence. The Bulldogs struggled in the passing game by completing just one of their 10 passes. Farley recorded a game-high 105 yards rushing on 17 carries to lead the way.