WINDSOR — The first drive of the game set the tone for the rest of the night Friday, Nov. 8, in Windsor.
A Crest Ridge fumble on the opening drive of the game put Crest Ridge at an uphill climb the rest of night as the No. 3-seed Cougars saw their season come to a close in a 42-14 loss to No. 2-seed Windsor in the Class 1 District 4 semifinals.
Windsor senior Aiden Schneider laid a hit on Crest Ridge senior David Siegfried that jarred the ball loose at the Greyhound 28 on the opening drive of the game. The Cougars were driving the ball on the possession that began at their own 37.
It was off the fumble that the Greyhounds struck first.
A 72-yard drive ended with a one-yard Jonah Roberts touchdown and Dylan Witherspoon two-point conversion to put the Greyhounds up 8-0 with seven minutes, seven seconds left in the first quarter, a score that would stand until the 9:47 mark in the second quarter.
“We had a good drive, I just think we have to respond and I think that just set us back,” Crest Ridge coach Thomas Hotmer said. “I saw our heads drop a little bit and then they punched us in the mouth with a big, long drive and it was an uphill battle the whole night, it was tough.”
It was early in the second quarter that the Cougars regained the traction they started to gain on the first drive before the fumble.
The Cougars drove the ball down the field, converting on key plays that brought the ball to inside the Windsor five-yard line.
Will Taylor kept the ball on the quarterback-keeper and was headed for the end zone when the ball came loose at the goal line.
Windsor recovered and appeared to have the ball but the referee charged in from the sideline and signaled touchdown.
Taylor then added the two-point conversion and made it 8-8 with 9:47 left in the half.
The game would not be tied for long though as Kenton Sargent added his first of two touchdowns in the first half to help make it 16-8 Windsor, after a Roberts two-point try, with 7:02 left in the half.
Sargent’s touchdown to make it 16-8 sparked a run of 26-unanswered Windsor points.
“We just could not get a whole lot consistently going,” Hotmer said. “They controlled the line of scrimmage and that really hurt us. Over all, we did not play well and they played really, really well.”
When the dust settled, Windsor led 36-8 with 10:31 left in the third.
Windsor touchdowns included another one from Sargent, a Jacob Berube pick-six and a 44-yard Roberts run.
Taylor did find Kole Conard for six late in the game to make it 36-14.
The Crest Ridge score was answered with a Roberts touchdown, his third of the night, and two-point try to set the final at 42-14 with 8:23 left in Crest Ridge’s season.
“We just have to continue to learn to keep fighting and I feel like they did that, they played as hard as they could, just missing tackles on defense and not wrapping up very well hurt us,” Hotmer said. “It was a huge uphill climb and our guys kept fighting, we just could not get it done.”
Taylor finished the game 27-47 passing for 329 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions.
He also rushed for a touchdown.
Crest Ridge finishes 8-3 in its first year under Hotmer going undefeated in conference play to win the I-70 Conference for the first time since 2017.
Crest Ridge’s only losses came to 9-2 Windsor and Class 2 schools Holden and Knob Noster.
“I am proud of them, they bough into a whole new staff,” Hotmer said.