The Wildcats played their best four quarters this season at Rose Hill Friday night and nearly spoiled the Rockets homecoming in a 29-22 loss on the road.
It was a heartbreaker of a loss for the Wildcats who held a 22-15 lead in the fourth quarter.
"As far as effort goes our kids have played hard this whole season. We played extremely well in all phases of the game and unfortunately it just did not go our way in the end. I can't say enough about how our kids performed tonight," said EHS head coach Jared Anderson.
The Wildcats went down early in the game as Rose Hill scored on a six-yard touchdown run by Garrett Forsberg, to lead 6-0 after a missed PAT with 8:27 left in the first.
El Dorado tried to respond on the following drive, but had a Travis House 35-yard field goal attempt go wide left.
The Wildcats defense came up big, forcing a three and out to the Rockets on their next offensive possession.
El Dorado got some traction on its next drive and House found receiver Isaac Johnson for a 23-yard touchdown strike and the Wildcats took the lead on the House PAT at 7-6 early in the second quarter.
"Our guys fought and battled and Rose Hill is used to games like that and we are not right now, and we learned a lesson there and that will make us better in the long run," said Anderson.
The Wildcats looked to have stopped the Rockets on their next possession, but a tipped pass fell to Griffin McBride on a long third-down conversion and Forsberg gave the lead back to Rose Hill 12-7 on a four-yard toss, the two-point conversion failed.
The Rockets' defense got a three and out and got the ball back to their offense, who drove to the El Dorado 10 yard line. El Dorado's defense allowed just a field goal extending the Rocket lead to 15-7.
With just a few minutes remaining in the half, the Wildcats went into a two-minute drill offense and after big completions to Johnson and Garrett Howland, House found Howland in the back of the end zone for a nine-yard strike.
House scored on a draw play to add two points and to knot the game at 15 going into half time.
Both defenses stepped up in the third quarter with neither offense being able to score in the third.
Early in the fourth quarter however the Wildcats looked to have turned the corner when House hit Johnson for consecutive big completions including a 14-yard touchdown on a fly route to give El Dorado a 22-15 lead in the fourth quarter.
Page 2 of 2 - It looked to be going the Wildcats way as the defense got another stop and forced the Rockets to punt on the following possession.
A short punt by the Rockets that House tried to field was fumbled back to Rockets for the only turnover of the contest.
"House is a playmaker and he was trying to make a play, just one of those things that hindsight is 20-20, we learned our lesson," said Anderson.
The Rockets did not relent and Brett Bonar capitalized on the short field with the Rose Hill offense for a eight-yard touchdown run to square the game at 22 with 5 minutes remaining.
On the Wildcats next drive they were faced with a 4th and 1 and an illegal procedure penalty forced them to punt back to the Rockets.
On the first play from scrimmage, Forsberg found a hole and scampered 57 yards for the go ahead touchdown, his third of the day, giving the Rockets the lead for good.
"I was real proud of our guys, they played hard all game long and they never gave up and we are getting there we are getting to be where we want to be.
El Dorado had one final shot to at least tie the game after a long kick off return by Garrett Howland into Rocket territory. The Wildcats could not find one more score and House was sacked on 4th down giving the ball back to Rose Hill.
El Dorado travels to Maize South next Friday for their first district game.