By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsemail@example.com
After four games, the Havre High football team managed to accomplish one of its major goals.
The Ponies finished their 2003 nonconference schedule undefeated and they capped it off in decisive fashion. In front of a large homecoming crowd, Havre picked up a 35-0 shutout win over the Glendive Red Devils Friday night at Blue Pony Stadium.
"We're definitely happy to be 4-0 right now," said Havre High head coach Troy Purcell. "We wanted to win every nonconference game and we did that. But now the season really starts over for us. We have to move on and focus on our conference schedule."
Things could not have started out any better for the No. 2 ranked Blue Ponies on a chilly, windy night.
Senior Daine Solomon took the game's opening kickoff all the way back to the Glendive 43-yard line. On Havre's first play from scrimmage, Gary Wagner found Solomon wide open down the left sideline for a 43-yard touchdown that put the Ponies in front 7-0.
After a Glendive turnover -the first of six on the night - the Ponies found the end zone again on a 1-yard TD plunge by Colby Mader giving Havre a 14-0 edge after one quarter.
The second stanza saw both teams struggle offensively as a result of solid defensive play from both sides. However, with less than two minutes left in the half, Glendive quarterback Bryce Fast fumbled the ball on the Red Devil 43-yard line and that turnover proved to be the play that cost Glendive any chance at a comeback.
Three plays following the fumble, Solomon scored on a 6-yard toss sweep that gave the Ponies a 21-point lead at the half.
"Any time you can create that many turnovers you are going to be successful," Purcell said. "Glendive had some really costly fumbles and we managed to capitalize on them. I think that turned out to be a big difference in the game.
"I thought our defense came out right from the start and was aggressive and hard-hitting," Purcell added. "They probably played as well as they have all season and it was a big part of this win."
As the second half began, the Ponies defense continued to dominate a hapless Glendive offensive attack. The Red Devils turned the ball over three more times in the game's final 24 minutes and two of those resulted in Havre scores. Cornerback Marc Mariani picked off an errant Fast pass in the third period which led to an 8-yard TD keeper by Wagner. And Havre capped off the scoring in the fourth quarter when Wagner hit Coda Tchida from 10 yards out after the Red Devils lost a fumble deep in their own territory.
In all, the Ponies were very efficient on offense and equally as dominating on defense. Havre racked up 327 yards of total offense. Wagner was 16 of 25 for 183 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed nine times for 27 yards and one score.
Solomon had yet another huge night. He had seven catches for 106 yards and a touchdown along with his rushing TD. The Ponies also had a strong ground attack as they gained 144 yards on the ground. Scott Robinson led the way for Havre with 62 yards on 13 carries. Mader added a solid 49 yards on 10 carries along with a touchdown.
Defensively, Havre held the Red Devils to 120 total yards. The Ponies got seven tackles from Tyler Wheeler, while Chad Seely added six tackles and two sacks.
"We had put a lot of emphasis on using this game to get better at the things we needed to," Purcell said. "On offense, we eliminated a lot of the mistakes and penalties that were hurting us this season and we didn't turn the ball over at all.
"Defensively we got a great effort from kids like Chad Seely and Craig Kallenberger. I thought our whole unit was dominant and it is always nice to get that first shutout of the year."
The Ponies will remain home on Friday night when they begin defense of their 2002 Central A conference championship against the Livingston Runnin Rangers. The game between Havre and Livingston will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Blue Pony Stadium.
Glendive 0 0 0 0 - 0
Havre 14 6 8 7 - 35
Daine Solomon 43 pass from Gary Wagner (Wagner kick);
Colby Mader 1 run (Wagner kick);
Solomon 5 run (kick failed):
Wagner 8 run (Craig Kallenberger pass from Wagner);
Coda Tchida 10 pass from Wagner (Wagner kick).
Rushing -Colby Mader 10-49, Scott Robinson 13-62, Daine Solomon 1-6, Gary Wagner 9-27.
Passing - Gary Wagner 16-25-183-2.
Receiving -Scott Robinson 3-14, Coda Tchida 3-28, Daine Solomon 7-106, Marc Mariani 1-21, Colby Mader 1-10, Rick Hoium 1-4.