By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editoremail@example.com
In 24 minutes of football, the Havre Blue Ponies exorcised three years of demons against the Lewistown Eagles on Saturday night. Behind an explosive offensive, the Ponies blasted the Eagles 42-0 in front of a capacity crowd and statewide television audience at Blue Pony Stadium.
Coming into the pivotal Class A tilt, circumstances were not in Havre's favor. The Ponies had not defeated Lewistown during head coach Troy Purcell's tenure, plus the Ponies were trying to rebound from a devastating loss to Belgrade the previous week. But instead of being a hindrance, those two factors became pregame motivators, according to junior quarterback Gary Wagner.
"We definitely wanted to win this game for Coach Purcell," Wagner said. "He talked about it during the week, telling us about how Lewistown has gotten the best of Havre lately, and I think that really motivated us Saturday.
"We also wanted to show that we were still a good football team even though we lost to Belgrade," Wagner added. "We wanted to show that that game didn't affect us and that we still have a lot of momentum going."
The dominating win was equally gratifying for Purcell, but he also admitted that it was just one more step in the tightening race for the Central A Conference championship.
"This was definitely a big win because Lewistown is a big rival," Purcell said. "But we need to beat every team in front of us and the kids are very aware of that. I think that showed on Saturday night because everybody stepped up and played well and they played hard. Our kids were very focused the entire game."
If the first quarter usually dictates the pace of a football game, then the Eagles knew they were in for a long night. Despite Wagner throwing an interception on the first play of the game, it did not take long for Havre's big-play offense to strike back.
After Nick Kamp's interception, the Pony defense forced a three and out to get the ball back and junior tailback Scott Robinson took over the contest. After a short gain by Daine Solomon, Robinson took a pitch from Wagner and scampered 74 yards down the Havre sideline to put the Ponies on the board at 7-0.
Less than two minutes later, Robinson was off to the races, galloping 39 yards for his second of three rushing touchdowns on the night.
Solomon also got into the act on the Ponies' fourth possession of the first quarter. After Marc Mariani picked off an errant Lewistown pass, Wagner hit Solomon for a 19-yard scoring strike that gave the Ponies a 20-0 lead as the period ended.
The Solomon and Robinson show would continue into the second quarter. Wagner found Solomon early in the quarter on a 28-yard TD pass. Wagner added his own score from 9 yards out. Robinson capped off the scoring with a 12-yard run. His touchdown gave the Ponies a 42-0 lead at halftime and the score remained the same throughout the second half as Havre's defense continued to dominate the contest.
Robinson had a monster night for the Ponies. To go with his three TDs, he added 149 yards rushing on just five carries and also caught five balls for 91 yards. After his early interception, Wagner was nearly perfect on the night. He completed 10 of 12, passing for 151 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, the Ponies got 11 tackles each from Craig Kallenberger and Marc Mariani. Tyler Wheeler added 10 tackles on the night.
"Scott Robinson really got a chance to shine on Saturday night," Purcell said. "He has been steadily improving and it was great to see him show what he can do when he gets the ball in his hands."
Both Purcell and Wagner were quick to point out that the Ponies' success was a team effort that starts with the big boys in the trenches.
"Our offensive line has been playing so well lately," Wagner said. "It is amazing how much time I have back there. When they play like that, it is easy to get the ball to all of the weapons we have on offense. And you have to give credit to our defense. They have been shutting teams down and giving us the ball in great field position."
Said Purcell: "This was a total team effort and it starts with our offensive line. Those guys might not be the biggest kids in the state, but they have big hearts and they have been getting the job done all season."
The Ponies are 6-1 on the season and their tough schedule will continue on Friday night. Havre will travel to take on the defending Class A state champion Laurel Locomotives (4-3) in Laurel.
Lewistown 0 0 0 0 0
Havre 20 22 0 0 42
Havre - Scott Robinson 74 run (Gary Wagner kick)
Havre - Scott Robinson 39 run (Gary Wagner kick)
Havre - Daine Solomon 19 pass from Gary Wagner (kick failed)
Havre - Daine Solomon 28 pass from Gary Wagner (Solomon run)
Havre - Gary Wagner 9 run (Gary Wagner kick)
Havre - Scott Robinson 12 run (Gary Wagner kick)
Havre Passing - Gary Wagner 10-12-151-1
Havre Rushing - Gary Wagner 1-9, Scott Robinson 5-149, Daine Solomon 2-2, Colby Mader 3-2, Jared Weigel 7-26, Jess McLain 1- (-1).
Havre Receiving - Coda Tchida 1-17, Colby Mader 1-3, Scott Robinson 5-91, Daine Solomon 4-39.