EVERGREEN - Mead coach Jason Klatt knew there would be growing pains with his young football team, and Friday night was a painful lesson for the Mavericks.
Locked in a defensive battle against Evergreen, a near interception instead became a momentum-changing play for the Cougars, who eked out an 8-7 win.
It was a tough end to a game in which Mead (1-2) had chances to build on a lead but made costly mistakes. Penalties, fumbles and a muffed kickoff after Evergreen's touchdown was enough to beat the Mavericks.
"You can't make mistakes and not finish drives against that offense," Klatt said. "Whenever you do that and you don't finish drives as the game goes on it creates panic and more panic, and we panicked tonight. They kept the ball and grinded the clock. That's what you get. It's a good lesson."
Mead nearly learned that lesson in a win after Brady Veltien hit Jacob Bartholomew on a 10-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. It stayed that way until the fourth when Evergreen got a big break.
With the ball near midfield, Cougars quarterback Adam Cardillo lofted a pass down the right sideline. Mead defensive back Nick Jacobs had it slip through his fingers to Evergreen running back Beck Barrett, who juggled it before securing it for a 23-yard gain.
"He almost had a pick, tipped it and it went right into his hands," Klatt said. "You know maybe it's not your night when that stuff happens and a guy gets a tipped ball."
One play later, Benjamen Haefeli ran 28 yards around the right side to make it 7-6. Evergreen opted to go for the two-point conversion and Philip Yaro's second effort got it and gave the Cougars the lead.
Mead fumbled on the ensuing kickoff but held, and then had a last-ditch drive to win it. They the ball to the Evergreen 25 and, due to clock operator issues, had three tries to win it with a 41-yard field goal. The last attempt was blocked.
"In the second half they came out strong and stuck together," said sophomore running back Nathan Bailey, who led Mead with 63 rushing yards. "We played hard and they came up with the win, and that's alright because we got better than last week. That's what it's all about."
It's also about getting past adversity.
"We're in transition a little bit, we've had a lot of success over the last three or four years," Klatt said. "Those kids are gone and we've got to find a way to keep moving along in a positive direction. We don't let setbacks define us."
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Evergreen 8, Mead 7
At Evergreen High SchoolMead (1-2)0700—7Evergreen (1-2)0008—8
Mead — Jacob Bartholomew 10 pass from Brady Veltien (Taylor Kamigaki kick).
Evergreen — Benjamen Haefeli 28 run (Philip Yaro run).
RUSHING — Mead: Nathan Bailey 8-63, Brayden Keys 7-58, Ryan Bullock 7-24, Brady Veltien 9-(-8). Evergreen: Beck Barrett 9-51, Benjamen Haefeli 10-40,Carter Cassin 6-33, Cameron Morian 3-19, Philip Yaro 6-17.
PASSING — Mead: Veltien 6-14-1-53. Evergreen: Cardillo 2-5-0-35.
RECEIVING — Mead: Trey Ward 4-26, K.J. Jacobs 1-17, Jacob Bartholomew 1-17. Evergreen: Barrett 2-35.