BY CHAD DARE
Statistics typically tell the story — but, not always.
On Saturday afternoon in the IHSA Class 1A playoffs, the Milford/Cissna Park Bearcats won nearly every statistical category against Moweaqua Central A&M.
The only numbers that didn’t favor the Bearcats — the final score.
The Central A&M Raiders advanced with a 55-27 victory at Raider Field.
“Overall, I think we represented our program and our conference very well,’’ Milford/Cissna Park coach Nate Albaugh said. “I don’t know if anyone gave us a chance in this game.’’
Not only were the Bearcats (6-4) in the game with the Raiders (9-1) but for the first 23 minutes and 45 seconds, it was easy to see that either team could have won it.
“We were wondering how far we are from being great,’’ said Albaugh, noting the postseason success at Moweaqua Central A&M as his measuring stick. “I think today shows we’re not that far.’’
But on the final offensive play of the first half, Milford/Cissna Park’s Devon Laubscher lost the football on a running play.
The Raiders’ Spencer Garner scooped up the ball and raced 52 yards for a touchdown turning a one-possession game into a 29-13 halftime lead for Central A&M.
“It was a great first half,’’ Albaugh said. “We played 23-plus great minutes in the first half and then we had one bad play.
“That was a dagger.’’
Central A&M extended its lead to 43-13 with a pair of third quarter scores after turnovers by Milford/Cissna Park.
The Raiders scored three touchdowns following turnovers by the Bearcats.
“I believe that we did the best that we could, but they just had so much size,’’ said Milford/Cissna Park senior Alex Rabe, who accounted for 138 yards of offense and two of his team’s four touchdowns. “We can have some satisfaction in beating them statistically, but we still would have rather won on the scoreboard.’’
Milford/Cissna Park outgained Central A&M 440-392, had more first downs (25-21), ran more plays (69-40) and the Bearcats won the time of possession by nearly 15 minutes.
All of those numbers could have meant an upset of the fourth-rated team in Class 1A.
“We played some pretty good football at times,’’ Albaugh said. “Offensively, we looked pretty tough.’’
But, is there consolation in winning the statistical battle and not the game?
“When your program is where we are — which is a young program — you take every nugget as a victory,’’ he said. “It helps for the future.’’
Milford/Cissna Park loses just six seniors, while Saturday’s leading rusher, Laubscher with 93 yards, and its quarterback, Jacob Marquez, are both sophomores.
Marquez threw for 203 yards and a touchdown for the Bearcats.
Central A&M used a 1-2 punch in the offensive backfield. Senior quarterback Curtis Ramsey accounted for 234 yards (146 rushing and 88 passing) while running back Zack Ballinger had 118 yards and four touchdowns.