By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsfirstname.lastname@example.org
The No. 1 ranked Havre High football team has the most potent offense in Class A football. That is no secret. However, the cat is out of the bag on the Havre High defense.
The Ponies gritted their teeth once again on Friday night and dismantled the Lewistown Eagles 56-7, to keep their unbeaten season intact.
The HHS defense finally allowed an offensive touchdown after nearly four games without surrendering one. But even giving up a touchdown to the Eagles could not overshadow the domination by the Blue Pony defense.
Havre may have surrendered a touchdown in the first quarter, but for the game, the Ponies allowed Lewistown to gain just 51 yards of total offense. The Eagles were only able to complete two passes the entire game.
The Eagle running game was equally overmatched by the Ponies' front four. Lewistown gained 34 yards on the ground, and its longest from scrimmage was 17 yards.
"Our defense is playing good football right now," said Havre High head coach Troy Purcell. "They have been prepared every week and they are getting it done on the field."
Even though the HHS defense took away any chance Lewistown had of making it a competitive game on Friday night, the Havre High offense still did its thing, too. The Ponies scored early and often in a first half, rolling up 42 first-half points.
Havre opened the scoring on a 64-yard pass play from Gary Wagner to one of his favorite receivers, senior Coda Tchida.
On Havre's second possession Wagner hit Bill Siebrasse from five yards out for his first score of the season.
Lewistown managed to answer that score with a 16-yard pass from quarterback Colby Tognetti to wideout Shawn Durbin, to cut the lead to 14-7 with three minutes remaining in the first quarter. Havre answered immediately with a solid drive of its own and scored when Wagner ran the ball in from 2 yards out.
The Ponies then tacked on another 21 points in the second quarter, the first two scores came from Tchida. Early in the second quarter, Tchida returned his second punt in as many weeks for a score. His 72-yard punt return came on the heels of a dazzling punt return last week against Belgrade.
Minutes later, Wagner hit Tchida for a 34-yard TD pass. Havre finished the half and the Eagles off, when Wagner found Craig Kallenberger from 19 yards out, to make the score 42-7.
Purcell was not only happy with the play of his offense in the first half, but the play of Tchida this season.
"Coda is having a great season and he had another great game against Lewistown," Purcell said. "Our offense was really playing well in the first half, and our defense just took the game over in the second half."
Indeed, the Ponies kept the ball on the ground in the second half and played mostly backups throughout the final 24 minutes. They did manage 14 more points on touchdown runs by Scott Robinson and Evan Hinebauch.
Tchida's night included 173 receiving yards on just four receptions to go along with his 72-yard punt return.
Wagner had another stellar passing night, completing 10 of 13 passes for 278 yards and four touchdowns. He also carried the ball three times for 17 yards and a score. The Ponies racked up 462 yards of total offense and could have added at least 100 more yards, but several long plays were called back because of penalties.
Havre's defense was anchored by Rick Houim's nine tackles, including four solo tackles. Senior linebacker Colby Mader also had eight tackles and four solos. Tyler Wheeler recorded the game's only sack.
With the win, Havre (7-0) can clinch at least a share of the Central A conference title with a win over Butte Central on Friday night. The Ponies will host the Maroons for their last home game of the regular season and will honor the seniors before the game.
Havre 21 21 7 7 - 56
Lewistown 7 0 0 0 - 7
Havre - Coda Tchida 64 pass from Gary Wagner (Wagner kick)
Havre - Bill Siebrasse 5 pass from Wagner (Wagner kick)
Lewistown - Shawn Durbin 16 pass from Colby Tognetti (Ryan Kepler kick)
Havre - Wagner 2 run (Wagner kick)
Havre - Tchida 72 punt return (Wagner kick)
Havre - Tchida 34 pass from Wagner (Wagner kick)
Havre - Craig Kallenberger 19 pass from Wagner (Wagner kick)
Havre - Scott Robinson 4 run (Wagner kick)
Havre - Evan Hinebaugh 5 run (Dru Ita kick).
Rushing - Scott Robinson 10-71, Evan Hinebaugh 3-24, Marc Mariani 1-36, Colby Mader 4-9, Gary Wagner 3-17, Mark Larson 3-21, Scott Miller 1-6.
Passing - Gary Wagner 10-13-0-278
Receiving - Coda Tchida 4-173, Marc Mariani 2-16, Garrett Neiffer 1-37, Craig Kallenberger 1-19, Scott Robinson 2-34.