Chris Peterson Havre Daily News email@example.com
There was a big game feel in the air Friday night at Blue Pony Stadium, and in the end it was the big play that turned out to be the difference. The No. 4-ranked Havre High football team had two long touchdown passes as well as a defensive touchdown that give the Ponies a critical 26-7 homecoming win over Central A Conference rival Belgrade Friday night in Havre. The win improved Havre’s record to 5-1 overall and 3-0 in conference play, and almost assured the Ponies a Class A playoff berth. “It was a huge win for us over a very good football team,” HHS head coach Kevin Sukut said. “We forced them into some mistakes and we made some big plays.” With the score tied at 7-7 late in the third quarter, Blue Pony quarterback Tanner Donovan hooked up with a wideopen Lorren Mack on an incredible 82- yard touchdown pass to put Havre ahead 13-7. “I booted the wrong way to start the play and so that kind of threw things off,” Donovan said. “But Lorren ran all the way across the field and luckily I saw him.” The Ponies got another big play later in the fourth quarter. Senior Beau LaSalle picked up a fumble and returned it 41 yards for a score to give Havre a 19- 7 lead and sealing the Panthers’ fate. “Nate Harada put a good hit on the ball and I just was in the right place at the right time,” LaSalle said. “The coaches did a great job of putting us in a position to be successful and we were able to get a huge win.” In a game dominated by big plays, no one made more than LaSalle. The defensive back/wide receiver was responsible for three turnovers with two fumble recoveries and an interception to go along with seven solo tackles. “Beau really stepped up and he just played a great game,” Sukut said. “He was around the ball a lot and that fumble return for a touchdown was the play that really put Belgrade away. It really took the wind out of their sails.” Donovan got Havre on the board early with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Nate Harada to give Havre a 7-0 lead. Donovan finished the game 10-for-13 passing for 200 yards and two touchdowns with just one interception. “I couldn’t be more proud of the way Tanner played,” Sukut said. “He threw some extremely nice passes. But he didn’t force anything and he was really patient. They brought a lot of pressure, and for him to be able to keep his cool and play that well is just a credit to him. “We knew that they were going to try and take away our running game,” he added. “So we knew we would have to come out and throw the ball a lot more.” The Ponies also racked up 194 yards rushing. Kyle Finneman gained 95 yards on 20 carries to go along with a late fourth-quarter touchdown that put Havre up 26-7. Evan Hinebauch also ran for 84 yards on seven carries. “They were really focused on taking away Evan,” Sukut said. “They gave us a look that we hadn’t seen before and it was really keyed on shutting down our inside running game. So we attacked them on the perimeter and towards the end of the game they started wearing down and that’s when we hit them for some big gains.” Havre will be in action again Friday, when the Ponies head to Lewistown in another critical Central A showdown. “The win over Belgrade was big and it puts us in a great position as far as the postseason is concerned,” Sukut said. “But in no way are we satisfied with just making the playoffs. We have bigger goals and that starts with the divisional championship. So we need to keep our feet on the ground and take care of business against Lewistown.” If Havre beats the Eagles on Friday night, the Ponies can clinch at least a share of the Central A title.