The Wildcat football season came a close on cold and rainy night Friday as Columbia Falls came up just short in their comeback bid against Butte Central.
The Cats had the ball on their side of the field down 21-14 with 1:30 to play, but could not find the end zone as the Maroons held on to hand Columbia Falls its seventh loss of the season.
The Cats started out strong, scoring on a 29-yard pass from Mason Peters to Brad Nieves with 8:46 to play in the opening quarter, but the Maroons answered with a 14-yard scoring run by quarterback Guido Ossello facing a fourth and one later in the quarter.
The Cats suffered a blow with 1:56 to play in the opening quarter when Nieves had to be taken off the field with a leg injury.
The Maroons took the lead on a three yard pass from Ossello to Braden Harrington with 8:13 to play in the half, but the Cats looks as if they might have an answer. A 64-yard run by Isaac Balla helped set up a first and goal from the 1-yard line with 5:42 to play in the half, but a Peters fumble gave the ball back to the Maroons.
The Cats lost another key player on the next play as an illegal block in the back by the Maroons led to a more than 25 minute delay as Finn Coleman was taken from the field by ambulance with a neck injury.
Down 14-7 at the half, the Cats gained some momentum on a pair of interceptions by Gahret Salminen and Jaxon Heinz, but were unable to capitalize with points.
The Maroons scored on a 1-yard run by Egan Lester to go up 21-7, but the Cats would cut into that lead.
Peters found Zane McCallum with a long pass to move the ball inside the 20 yard line before finding McCallum for an 11-yard touchdown to cut the Butte Central lead to 21-14 with 5:20 to play.
The Cats finished the game with 392 yards of total offense to Butte Central’s 326, led by Peters with 243 passing yards and another 42 on the ground. Balla led the Wildcat running attack with 100 yards on nine carries and Nieves was the top receiver with 66 yards on three receptions.
Both Nieves and Coleman are doing well after their injuries.