Badgers fall 29-27 to Arizona
Matadors for homecoming
By John Hales
Oct. 12, 2017
EPHRAIM—The Arizona Western Matadors snapped up a win from the Badgers in a close, hard-fought but ultimately disappointing homecoming game at Snow College last weekend.
It would be tempting to say that Snow lost the game, 29-27, in the final seconds. But while a Matador field goal with 8 seconds left in the fourth quarter did indeed seal things, events earlier in the game tend to explain the outcome.
The final gap of only two points is the very number of points the Matadors earned on a safety early in the game.
In reality, the Matadors didn’t “earn” the safety so much as the Badgers gifted it to them when they blew a snap during a punt with their backs against their own end zone.
In game like last Saturday’s where there was a razor-thin margin throughout, it’s hard to say any one thing or any one play was make-or-break. But a blunder as bad as the first-quarter, 28-seconds-to-go, fouled snap is a pretty big contender.
Snow head coach Paul Peterson noted the lapse, but didn’t blast long-snapper Seth Crampton for it. Until that moment, “he’s been money on his snaps,” Peterson said. “He was upset at himself—for the rest of the game. We’ve got his back.”
The game was a change of pace for Snow—not so much in the pace of the play but in the charged energy of a homecoming rivalry game.
“It was such an awesome atmosphere. My kids played their guts out,” Peterson said.
During the first half, the Badgers maybe should have kept some of those guts inside. They had a difficult time keeping their adrenaline under control. Quarterback Shane Johnson had a few uncharacteristic overthrown passes.
“I thought at halftime he did a better job of settling down and making some good throws,” coach Peterson said.
He did, but the Matadors were still able to keep him to 121 yards total passing. He was perhaps handicapped, however, by the absence of one of his go-to wide receiver, Jeremy Beverly.
Beverly suffered a concussion two weeks ago against ASA Miami. He was still questionable last week.
“It was kind of a game-time decision,” Peterson said. “They decided to go on the safe side.”
And, he recognized, “If you lose one of your playmakers like him—to lose him, somebody that Shane leans on a little bit, that’s always going to be tough.”
But give credit where credit is due. The Matadors did a fine job shutting Snow’s running game down. They put in an extra defender to help contain the rush, primarily standout running back, D’Arman Notoa. Arizona Western held Notoa to 80 yards.
Where the Matadors truly dominated was in the passing game, blowing Snow out of the water with 375 yards passing.
“I tip my hat to them,” Peterson said. “They played hard.”
As for his own team, the coach says, “We’ll learn from it. If we’re good coaches and a good team, we’ll get better from it.”