OZARK, MO. - The Peru State football team put forth a valiant effort but came up short against No. 18 Evangel. This was all the more impressive considering the first five minutes of this game were reminiscent of Week 1's nightmare start versus Missouri Valley, where Peru fell behind 21-0 by the early second quarter.

The Bobcats gave up a touchdown on Evangel's first possession; quarterback Zeke Kuwaya connected with tight end Haaken Friend on a seam route for a 22 yard score with 11:56 left in the first quarter.

Peru's offense then took the field, and on their first play from scrimmage, Mitch Orr bobbled the option pitch from Noah Kasbohm, and the Crusaders recovered the fumble at Peru's 26 yard line. Peru's defense held firm this time, forcing a field goal attempt that was blocked.

The 'Cats soon righted the ship and marched down the field on a 13 play, 80 yard touchdown drive, as Kasbohm was upended but broke the plane of the endzone from 5 yards out. John Brady's extra point tied the game at 7-7 with 3:30 remaining in the first.

Unfortunately, disaster struck at the 4:43 mark of the second quarter, when Peru long snapper Nic Harris air mailed the ball over punter Dylan Allen on a 4th and 5 from the 'Cats 21. The ball was kicked out the back of the endzone for a safety as Evangel reclaimed the lead 9-7, and that score stood at the half.

A fantastic second half start saw the Bobcats score a touchdown on their opening drive. Garry Fleming boxed out the Evangel cornerback on a 22 yard fade, and Peru took their first lead 14-9 at the 11:56 mark of the third. Noah James then intercepted Kuwaya's pass at the 'Cats 8 yard line and returned it 24 yards to the 32.

However, Peru's offense stalled and was forced to punt inside their own territory. Harris inexplicably sailed another ball well above the outstretched arms of Allen, and the Crusaders recovered right in front of the goal line. Kuwaya leapt over the pile for a 1 yard score to put Evangel back ahead 15-14 at 8:48.

With 9:52 remaining in the fourth, Kuwaya found Sam Buckner in the back of the endzone on the right sideline for 10 yards to extend EU's lead to 22-14.

The Bobcats were unable to muster any points on their later possessions, and the Crusaders would not give the ball back for the final 3:03 of the contest. They had key 3rd down conversion runs by Kuwaya and Ben Friend that allowed them to fully drain the clock to preserve their 22-14 triumph.

Kasbohm completed 11 of 22 passes for 93 yards and one touchdown, adding 16 yards and a score on thr ground. Tajh Eaddy rumbled for 91 yards on just 9 carries. Vic Hubbard had two and a half tackles and an interception.

The Bobcats return home Saturday, September 14th to face #2 Benedictine in a 1 p.m. kickoff from the Oak Bowl. Coverage will be on Otoe County Country (105.5 FM, 1600 AM, and newschannelnebraska.com).

- Matt English