PLAINWELL — Three Rivers was a couple red zone visits away from outmuscling Wolverine Conference non-divisional foe Plainwell on Friday.
Instead — quite literally — the Wildcats saw the second game of their season slip through their fingers as the Trojans held on for a 14-7 win.
After trading touchdowns in the opening two drives of the game, the race was officially on for that second, and game-winning touchdown.
At times, it looked like that elusive trip to pay dirt was closer for Three Rivers, which twice ventured into the red zone, both times coughing up the ball.
Halfway through the second quarter, the Wildcats rode the shoulders of running back Ray King to fight inside the 20. Once there, quarterback Alex Cottingham called his own number and had the ball jarred loose before he hit the turf. Plainwell’s Jacob Cain came up with it.
In eerily similar fashion, Cottingham kept the ball and bolted up the middle before Austin Rohr sent the ball flying from Cottingham’s clutches and eventually into the grips of Cody Howrigon during the third quarter.
Before anyone places blame squarely on the shoulders of the Wildcats’ senior signal-caller, it’s fair to note that this jack-of-all trades kept his offense afloat all night with 93 yards through the air, 105 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown. He also logged a key sack on defense.
Cottingham’s touchdown strike came on Three Rivers’ first drive of the game, where he scored from nine yards out. It was an appropriate rebuttal to Plainwell’s 38-yard touchdown strike from Ryan Britton.
Plainwell’s dagger (if you could even call it that) didn’t come until midway through the fourth when Jacob Geter kept a drive alive on a 4th-and-10 and eventually rushed in the game-winning touchdown from nine yards out.
The Trojans weren’t exempt from the cruel misfortunes of the game as his highlight reel-worthy, 70-yard touchdown run in the third quarter was called back due to a penalty at the line of scrimmage.
The Wildcats continue the season next week against Allegan.