In another hard earned win by the Havre High football team, the Blue Ponies needed another heavy dose of the passing game to edge the competition on Friday night.
The Central A Blue Ponies hosted the Libby Loggers in nonconference play on Friday night at Blue Pony Stadium in Havre. And grabbing a much-needed non-league win before re-entering conference play, the Ponies cut down the
Quarterback Dane Warp had another great game for HHS, even while taking what seemed to be, hit after hit. Warp ended the night with 223 passing yards on a 13-of-26 performance and four touchdown passes.
“I think that we still have a lot of work to do on the offensive line.” Havre High head coach Jason Christenson said. “We gave up a lot of hits on our quarterback and we can’t do that. Dane is a tough kid and he is battling through an ankle injury. Where most kids would be out, he is mentally tough and is still battling. We need to give him more help, but overall, from top to bottom we played well.”
The Ponies jumped out to a 7-0 lead after the first drive of the night, but found themselves locked up in a 14-14 tie after the first frame. Thomas Gruber caught an eight yard TD pass to start the game, while Thurman Holdsclaw caught a 10 yard scoring pass later in the opening frame to keep the Ponies competitive.
HHS took a 21-17 lead in the third quarter on another Holdsclaw reception, while defense was crucial in the second half.
Both teams scored just one more touchdown in the second half. The Ponies held a 27-14 lead from the 9:38 mark in the third, all the way to the 3:25 mark in the fourth. But that is when things got dicey for the Ponies, as the Loggers climbed within six points, with the Ponies leading 27-21.
HHS drained the clock to just 18 seconds left in the game, but the Loggers got the ball on the Pony 43 yard line. They took a shot into the end zone, but the pass fell incomplete and the Ponies were just one second away from the win. With one last shot, Winslow scrambled and hurled the ball down field, only to come up short. The pass did find an open receiver in the end zone, but the pass was dropped, giving the Ponies the win.
“I thought the clock ran out, and we were kind of celebrating,” Christenson said. “But one second left with (Winslow) in the game is scary. I know his arm strength and what he is capable of, and he can throw a strike from anywhere on the field. He proved that, and I think that was darn near 60 yards in the air to the end zone. It was scary.”
The Ponies were fortunate to come away with the win after a scary finish. And the HHS offense didn’t get the running game moving like they were hoping, leaving Warp and his receivers to carry the load once again. And it wasn’t easy, as Warp was under pressure all night, and the Loggers were forcing him to make tough throws.
Zach Plum had five catches for 113 yards and a score, while Holdsclaw had six catches for 90 yards and two scores, and Gruber had two catches for 20 yards and a score. Rushing the ball, Holdsclaw did rack up 122 yards on 22 carries, but didn’t get much help as Tristan Manuel was lost in pregame to a dislocated knee cap.
“Coach Danny Wirtzberger does a great job of breaking down the defense each week,” Christenson said. “And Dane does a great job seeing the defense on the field. They know where to attack the defense and can get the job done.”
The HHS defense was strong at times as well, but did struggle late in the game when Winslow fought to keep the Loggers afloat. He did hurt the Ponies with his legs and arm, finishing with 198 yards in the air, while the team finished with 123 total rushing yards. Jake Williams finished with seven tackles, while Holdsclaw also finished with seven tackles, one sack, and two hurries. Plum also finished with six tackles and his seventh interception of the season, while Gruber had an interception as well. Chet Shrauger also had one interception and four tackles in his return.
The Ponies are now 3-4 overall and are still 1-1 in the Central A. HHS will take the field again on Friday, when they host the conference rival Browning Indians. Havre will honor its seniors before Friday's game.
Passing by Libby
Blue Ponies 27, Libby 21
Libby 14 0 0 7 - 21
Havre 14 7 7 0 – 27
HHS – Thomas Gruber 8 pass from Dane Warp (Tyrell Pierce kick)
LIB – Kraig Nelson 39 pass from Jared Winslow (kick failed)
HHS - Thurman Holdsclaw 10 pass from Dane Warp (Tyrell Pierce kick)
LIB – Barak Lapka 13 pass from Jared Winslow (Danny Leggins pass from Jared Winslow)
HHS - Thurman Holdsclaw 17 pass from Dane Warp (Tyrell Pierce kick)
HHS - Zach Plum 13 pass from Dane Warp (kick failed)
LIB – Will Reichel 19 pass from Jared Winslow (kick good)
Havre Individual Stats
Passing – Dane Warp 13-26-223
Rushing – Thurman Holdsclaw 22-156
Receiving – Zach Plum 5-113, Thurman Holdsclaw 6-90, Thomas Gruber 2-20