Oestrike’s field goal return helps Wildcats shock Klein Collins in overtime 49-48

Wildcats stopped Klein Collins at 1-yard line on final play to stay undefeated

The+Wildcats+moved+to+8-0+on+Thursday+after+a+49-48+overtime+victory+that+came+down+to+the+final+play.+

Christopher Kibler

The Wildcats moved to 8-0 on Thursday after a 49-48 overtime victory that came down to the final play.

Adeen Rao, Staff Writer

In a sport where offense and defense typically make the headlines, it was a special teams play that led the Wildcats (7-0) to a 49-48 overtime victory over the Klein Collins Tigers (3-3).

Down 42-34 with just over three minutes remaining in the final quarter of regulation, the Wildcats’ hopes of achieving the first undefeated regular season in school history were on the brink. The Tigers had a 4th and 17 at the Wildcats 20-yard line, lining up for a field goal that would likely put the nail in the coffin, given the Wildcats would have needed two scores in less than three minutes to win the game.

Then, the Oe-Strike. Senior Hayden Davis blocked the field goal and senior middle linebacker Jad Oestrike returned the loose ball 80 yards for a touchdown, with the Wildcats only needing a two-point conversion to tie the game and cap off a 15-point fourth quarter comeback.

“Words cannot describe how crazy that was,” Oestrike said. “That truly was a dream come true for me.”

Senior wide receiver Joseph Manjack scored on the conversion, and the Wildcats — aided by a second Hayden Davis field goal block — would eventually send the game into overtime, knotted up 42-42.

“The press box was so excited,” Offensive Coordinator Jim Woodard said. “We had to get our emotions in check in a hurry and make sure we had the right offensive guys on the field to make the 2-point conversion.”

In his second game since returning from an injury, senior quarterback Colton Marwill looked to replicate the 5:0 touchdown-interception ratio performance displayed last week in the Wildcats’ matchup vs. Klein Forest. Marwill’s first half was business as usual, but to open the second half, he threw two interceptions on successive drives, giving the Tigers 14 free points off of turnovers to open the half.

“We made some mistakes, but that is football,” Woodard said. “You can go from the top of the mountain to the lowest valley on any snap.”

All of a sudden, Marwill and the Wildcats found themselves with their largest deficit of the season, down 35-20. Marwill bounced back, throwing two touchdowns through the fourth quarter and overtime, accounting for 14 of the Wildcats 22 points in that timespan. Marwill finished the night throwing 20/32 for 328 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.

Junior Richard Rodriguez had 17 carries for 119 yards, including a crucial 24-yard touchdown which got the Wildcats back to within eight points late. Thursday was the Wildcats’ second game in a row with more passing yards than rushing yards all season, a feat they had not achieved in their previous six.

“Our offensive unit does a great job of playing off each other,” Woodard said. “We work really good when we can go back and forth and keep defenses off balance.”

Defensively, the Wildcats had D1 bound senior defensive end Daniel Grobe back as a full-time option for the first time since their second game of the season against West Brook. The Wildcats have not been amongst the cream of the crop in Texas when it comes to defending the run, ranking in the bottom 25% of 6A in run defense, a stat that the Tigers heavily exploited on Thursday.

Aided by senior quarterback Colby Powers and senior tailback Jonathan Lewis, the Tigers achieved 413 yards on the ground at nine yards per carry Thursday. The Wildcats were frequently ousted by the Tigers constant use of misdirection in the running game, which led to large touchdowns from Lewis.

On the flipside, the Wildcats’ defense again had a successful night defending the opposition through the air, holding Powers to 5/14 for 113 yards and two touchdowns. As a whole though, the 526 total yards allowed is the Wildcats worst number since their matchup vs. Klein Cain.

The special teams unit had their most productive night of the season. Senior kicker Cameron Jernagin has been a perfect 10/10 since stepping in for Wildcats kicker Lorelai Stramrood, who is likely out for an extended period with a lower-body injury. In the return game, Joseph Manjack provided sparks for the Wildcats offense averaging 39.3 yards per return.

The most important number with regards to the unit, though, were the blocks. Two field goal blocks in the waning moments of the final quarter of regulation, one being the 80-yard touchdown return by Oestrike, proved to be the difference between exiting Klein Memorial Stadium 8-0 vs. 7-1 for the Wildcats on Thursday.

UP NEXT: The home regular season finale vs Klein Oak (3-3) Friday at 7 p.m.