Isabella falls to Cottonwood in second round

Published 10:28 pm Friday, November 17, 2023

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By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

Isabella High School lost a thriller to Cottonwood High School in the second round of the AHSAA Class 2A state football playoffs on Nov. 17.

Trailing 24-15 at halftime, the Mustangs defense pitched a shutout in the second half to stifle a potent running attack by Cottonwood in the first half. Isabella forced a three and out on Cottonwood’s first possession in the second half, and quarterback Eli Kendrick turned the stop into points with a one-yard touchdown run, his third touchdown accounted for in the game. Jediah Works punched in the two-point conversion to make it 24-23 midway through the third quarter.

Kendrick led the Mustangs in rushing with 135 yards on 20 carries and two rushing touchdowns. Kendrick was also 7-for-12 passing and tossed a touchdown in his final high school game.

The teams traded defensive stops midway through the fourth quarter, and the Mustangs got another stop deep inside their own territory to get the offense the ball back with just over two minutes left.

Kendrick and the offense worked to midfield, and with 13 seconds faced a fourth down. The senior rolled left, and the pass fell incomplete to fellow senior Dre’Von Lee to end the game.

Lee made four catches in his final outing for Isabella.

The first quarter saw only one possession for each team as Isabella’s ended with a fumble inside Cottonwood territory to open the game. Cottonwood used the rest of the first quarter clock and capped its long drive with a touchdown run with seconds on the clock to go up 8-0 after the two-point conversion pitch and catch.

Kendrick responded on the Mustangs next drive with a 27-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 8-7. The officiating was not in the Mustangs favor in the first half picking up its third of three, 15-yard penalties in the first half on third down that extended Cottonwood drives. That in return aided the Bears to get into the end zone later in the drive to extend their lead to 16-7.

The second quarter continued its fast pace as Kendrick found Dawson Edwards for a 26-yard touchdown connection, followed by a Kendrick two-point conversion run to make it a one-point game, 16-15. Cottonwood needed one play on its next play to scamper for a lengthy touchdown run to restore its lead at 24-15 at halftime.

Isabella ends its season at 9-3, its third season with at least nine wins in its last five.