Friday night was a gut check for the Davenport North football team.
The Wildcats passed.
They lost the game, falling 27-23 to Dubuque Senior at Brady Street Stadium to drop to 1-2 for the season.
But coach Adam Hite saw enough things in the loss to bring at least a little bit of a smile to his face.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our team tonight,’’ Hite said. “We were duct-taping and zip-tying our team just to keep it together. At one time we had four sophomores and a senior in our offensive line. But we battled the whole game.’’
Junior quarterback Nolan Mosier completed 29 of 49 passes for 315 yards for the Wildcats, who twice trailed by as many as 10 points but kept rallying.
Mosier fired a 15-yard scoring pass to Peter Phan with 47 seconds remaining to cut into the Senior lead. However, the visiting Rams (2-1) recovered the ensuing onside kick to secure the win.
Mosier wasn’t the only one who filled the air with passes. Rams senior Jack Gilligan was 24 for 33 for 299 yards and three touchdowns and also rushed for 60 yards in leading his team to the victory.
After the score was tied 17-17 at halftime, Senior threatened to get into the end zone three straight times but came away with only three points.
The Rams got inside the 5-yard line following a Mosier interception, but a Gilligan touchdown run was wiped out by a holding penalty and they settled for a 20-yard field goal by Kyle Konrardy.
They got to the 1-yard line the next time before being set back by a sack and Konrardy’s 25-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Phan.
Another drive ended at the North 14-yard line when Jack Aitchinson was decked by Dominic Wiseman for a 2-yard loss on fourth-and-2.
Wiseman went to the sidelines several times with cramps, but kept coming back to make monster plays.
“He and Cade Sheedy battled cramps the whole game,’’ Hite said. “We were thinking they maybe sat out half the game, but we had other guys step up.’’
Senior finally capitalized on an opportunity to open a 27-17 lead with 5 minutes, 21 seconds remaining on a 23-yard scoring pass from Gilligan to Landon Sauser.
Mosier then completed seven passes on a 16-play drive that ended with Morgan Bequeaith missing a 30-yard field goal. However, Senior fumbled two plays later and Mosier hit Phan for the final touchdown.
The first half was largely a head-to-head aerial duel between Gilligan and Mosier as they combined to throw for 379 yards before halftime.
North failed to capitalize on an early turnover as Sheedy intercepted a deflected pass on the third play of the game. The Wildcats maneuvered to the 2-yard line, but Sheedy fumbled the ball back to the Rams there.
From there, Senior built a 17-7 lead on a 36-yard touchdown pass from Gilligan to Sauser, a 44-yard Konrardy field goal and a 57-yard hookup from Gilligan to Hayden Francois.
In the midst of that, North put together an 80-yard drive that included five straight completions by Mosier and ended with a 3-yard scoring run by Sheedy.
The Wildcats later strung together a 13-play, 69-yard drive to cut it to 17-10 on Bequeaith’s 33-yard field goal, then got the ball back with a minute, 40 seconds remaining in the half. On the second play, Mosier found Phan all alone behind the secondary for a 66-yard scoring strike to make it 17-17 at halftime.
Phan finished with eight receptions for 134 yards for the Wildcats with Bequeaith catching nine for 57 yards. The Wildcats never mounted much of a ground attack, collecting only 50 yards, but Hite was proud nonetheless.
“We’ve got a tough bunch of kids,’’ he said. “I told them ‘We were right there, fellas.’ We can play with anybody in the state when we play like that.’’