Daniel Horton Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
Walking into Friday night’s home game against the Billings Central Rams, the Havre High football team was going to have to play some of its best football if the Blue Ponies hoped to walk away with a win. Even though the Ponies were playing in only their second game of the season, they were probably facing one of their biggest challenges. The Ponies entered Friday night's matchup at Blue Pony Stadium with a record of 1-0 and were facing a tough Rams' team riding a 13-game winning streak, including last year’s Class A state championship. While the Ponies hoped to advance their record to 2-0, the Rams 1-2 punch of Kevin O’Brien and Tyler Hawkins had different plans for the evening as the Rams went on to defeat the Ponies 28-7 in Class A nonconference clash. If the first drive for both teams was any indication of how the rest of the game was going to go, Pony fans knew from the beginning that they were in for a rough ride. The Ponies opening drive consisted of two incomplete passes and a broken pitch play for a four-yard loss. The result of the Ponies' drive was their first of many punts. The Ponies struggled to get the run game going, and since it was a struggle the Rams didn’t respect it. So this meant on pass plays HHS quarterback Beau Briese was getting a lot of pressure, not giving him any time to get the ball to his receivers. “I just couldn’t drop back to pass the ball.” Briese said. “The line did alright picking guys up, I just gotta get rid of the ball quicker.” The Rams on the other hand, looked like they were in midseason form. Starting on their own 37-yard-line, the Rams marched the ball down the field with no problem. They used the run to set up their passing game, and on the fifth play of the drive, Cole Catteland connected with O’Brien for a 33-yard touchdown pass. The Ponies were only three minutes into the game, and they already found themselves down 7-0. But the Rams weren’t done yet. In the first half they scored two more touchdowns on four different drives giving them a lead of 21-0 at halftime. O'Brien scored his second of the night, and Hawkins his first of two. And it wasn’t until late in the third quarter when the Ponies finally got on the board. With six minutes left in the quarter the Ponies took advantage of a Rams' fumble giving them great field position, leading to a 3-yard touchdown run by junior Ethan Hinebauch. The Hinebauch touchdown with three minutes left in the third quarter put the Ponies within 14 points at 21-7. But it seemed like the Rams had an answer to every play the Ponies ran. They stopped the run, and eliminated the pass. The Ponies go-to receiver Nate Christianson was taken out at halftime with a concussion, causing even more problems for the Blue Pony offense, since they were already missing Kent Pattison due to injury. Throughout the game, the Ponies offense had plenty of opportunities to make up ground. The defense had some big stops, but the offense just couldn’t get the ball in the endzone. At times the Ponies showed signs of life, but fumbles, three-and-out drives and incomplete passes plagued their offense all night. “Mistakes were made at inopportune times.” Havre head coach Kevin Sukut said. “You cannot do that in close games or against great teams like Billings Central.” After the Ponies went down 21-0, the defense forced the Rams to punt twice and to fumble before they were able to get their only touchdown of the night. The HHS defense stayed strong trying to give their team a chance. A third quarter interception by Jordan Hass and a fourth quarter fumble recovery by the Pony defense on the Rams’ next two drives gave them a chance to get back into the game, but once again the offense couldn’t do anything with the ball. “The defense did come up with some great opportunities for us and gave us the football in great scoring position.” Sukut said “But you have to capitalize against great teams like that. You have to turn them into points.” Even though the Ponies lost to the Rams by 21 points, there were a couple situations where if they could have executed better things could have been different. The Ponies had a fumble on the 2-yard line early in the game that would have made the score 7-7. And in other situations they failed to put points on the board after an interception, and a fumble. “Our intensity level was not good at all.” Sukut said. “We were flat and didn’t get emotionally into the game until the second half, and as a team we have to learn to overcome adversity a lot better." Leading the way for HHS offensively was Jarrett McLain with 28 yards rushing, and Mike Hickman, who had 24 yards receiving. On defense, the Ponies got nine tackles fro Thomas Kline and seven from Hinebauch. On Friday the Ponies (1-1) kick off another home game at Blue Pony Stadium, this time against Glendive.