One play away each week from being 3-0.
That was the sentiment of Conway coach Clint Ashcraft after the Wampus Cats lost, 16-7, Friday night against the Bentonville Tigers at John McConnell Stadium.
The play Ashcraft referred happened at the tail end of a 91-yard drive at the end of the third quarter, where Conway, trailing 13-7, failed to score despite five plays within 10 yards of scoring.
"That was brutal," he said. "We get close and get called for a false start that backed us up. We had a chance to throw it in the end zone, but didn’t convert. We’re one play away every week from winning and being 3-0 on the season. It’s just something we need to correct."
The drive started at the Wampus Cat’s 4-yard line.
Running back Michael George had one carry for 6 yards prior to the drive, but he received a bulk of the carries on this drive.
George ran for 34 yards on the first three plays on the drive. He would eventually rush for 80 yards on 12 carries that drive.
"He has played well the last two weeks," Ashcraft said. "He works hard and I’m proud of him. Our offensive line did a great job giving him creases to run and he’s very physical. He’s going to be a good player for us."
Pinned deep in its territory, the Tigers (2-1) mounted a fourth-quarter drive to Hayden Moehring’s 35-yard field goal with 1:56 left that clinched the victory.
Ashcraft was happy with how the defense played after giving up more than 35 points in the first two games of the season.
"Our guys had a good week of preparation," he said. "I was really proud of them. In practice, we are really stressing that we have to take it one day and one play at a time and just stay positive. Our backs are against the wall and we have to keep our heads up and keep fighting; keep trying to get better every week."
The Wampus Cats didn’t play a clean game.
A punt was blocked deep in Conway territory, setting up the Tigers at the Wampus Cats’ 10-yard line.
That led to a 4-yard rushing touchdown by Bentonville’s Ben Sellers, making the score 7-6 before Conway blocked the Tigers’ extra-point attempt.
The Wampus Cats turned the ball over two more times, which led to 10 points.
With conference play for the Wampus Cats, and a brutal stretch of games, starting Friday at Fort Smith Southside, Ashcraft knows what the team needs to do to turn its season around.
"We need to keep working. We had too many missed tackles and too many mental mistakes. We turned the ball over three or four times in every ballgame. If you take the turnovers away from it, every outcome might be different. All we can do is work to correct it, we can’t change it."