By George Ferguson
The clock was turned off and the scoreboard read Whitefish 20, Havre 19 as Havre lined up for a two point conversion and the win. But, Havre running back Levi Briese was stopped just short of the goal line which ended a classic double overtime thriller between Havre and Whitefish, Saturday at Blue Pony Stadium in Havre.
Just one play before, Briese scampered into the endzone from five yards out to bring the Ponies within one at 20-19 and that is when Havre High head coach Troy Purcell was faced with the tough decision of kicking the game tying extra point or going for the two point conversion and the win.
"I felt like we had a great opportunity to win the game right here and I think when you're at home you have to go for the win," Purcell said. "We just came up a little short."
The game was tied 13-13 after the end of a wild fourth quarter and neither team managed to score from the 10-yard line in the first overtime. Havre got the ball first and quarterback Justin Kegel was intercepted on third down. Whitefish however turned the ball over on the very next play leaving the game tied.
Whitefish scored on a seven yard run by quarterback Michael Watson to open the second overtime stanza. The successful point after made the score 20-13 and left Havre with four chances to tie or win the game.
On first down Briese carried the ball to the 5 yard line and Kegel managed to move it an inch closer on second down. But Briese came through on third down punching it in on the left side for the touchdown. However, Briese and the Ponies were stopped on the conversion as they tried to run to the outside.
"We felt like our best chance was to get to the outside," Purcell said of the play. "Whitefish was doing a good job of containing us inside and Levi has some great speed but they just came up and made a big play to stop us."
Whitefish opened the scoring in the first quarter on an 18-yard run by Watson. The play looked to be a run for Righetti but the exchange was fumbled and Watson picked it up and ran it in for the score. The touchdown was captiliazation on a Havre turnover the series before giving the Bulldogs excellent field position.
Havre began its first scoring drive late in the first quarter deep in Whitefish territory thanks to a key interception by defensive back Steve Harman. The Ponies used the remainder of the first quarter to march to the one yard line. On the first play of the second quarter, Kegel dove across the goal line and the point after tied the game at seven a piece.
Whitefish answered with a five yard touchdown pass from Watson to tight end Linsey Holbrook with 2 minutes left in the quarter. But the Bulldogs missed the point after attempt.
The Bulldogs would begin the third quarter with the ball but Watson fumbled a quarterback keeper giving the Ponies great field position. A pair of fifteen yard passes to Harman from Kegel resulted in Havre's second touchdown but the Ponies also missed the point after attempt leaving the game was tied at 13.
The two teams then relied heavily on their defense in the fourth quarter. Havre turned the ball over three times in the fourth quarter but their defense would not allow the Bulldogs to take advantage, leaving the game tied at 13 at the end of regulation.
Overall the Ponies turned the ball over five times the Bulldogs had three Purcell says that his teams turnovers definitely played a part in the flow of the game.
"Any time you turn the ball over five times it is going to hurt you, but our defense kept coming back and finding a way to stop them," Purcell said. "You have to give credit to Whitefish. They played a tough game and they were very prepared. But I am real pleased with the way our kids played as well, they played their hearts out and they showed tremendous character and fought all the way to the end. You just can't ask any more than that."
Offensively, Havre was led by Kegel who was 21 of 30 for 206 yards passing and one touchdown. He also ran for 23 yards and a TD. Briese carried the ball six times for 26 yards and a TD and wideout Steve Heberly had eight catches for 105 yards and Harman had 5 catches for 63 yards and a touchdown. Ben Mader had 20 tackles and a fumble recovery and Curt Leeds added 2 fumble recoveries. Briese and Tyson Roe each had a sack as well
The Ponies will host Sidney this Friday at Blue Pony Stadium.
Passing: Kegel 21-30 205; 1 TD, 3 ints.
Rushing; Havre 80 yds (Harman 5-17, Briese 6-26 1 TD, Kegel 8-23 1 TD, Heberly 2-15).
Recieving: Havre 206 (Heberly 8-105, Mader 3-5, Briese 1-10, Harman 5-63 1 TD, Solomon 2-13, Bergren 1-10).
Tackles: Mader 20
Sacks: Briese, Roe