Daniel Horton Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
It was another slow start for the Havre High football team, but in the end the Blue Ponies were able to get back into the win column against a bitter conference rival. On Friday, the Central A Ponies (3-1, 1-0) played host to the Lewistown Golden Eagles (2-2, 0-1) for their homecoming game and the first conference matchup of the season. And after what started as a slow game for both teams, the Ponies were able to defeat the eagles 21-7 at Blue Pony stadium. “It was a good conference win,” Havre High head coach Kevin Sukut said. "It got us off on the right foot with conference, especially going on the road next to Butte Central.” To start the game, both teams struggled to find any rhythm on offense. In the first quarter, both squads combined for five punts and only one score on seven possessions. “It took us a while to get going offensively again,” Sukut said. “I have to give credit to Lewistown and their run blitz, they were blitzing from all over the place and it took us a while to get used to it. We had to adapt, and we knew going in we were going to have to." The Ponies also knew how dangerous the Eagles' offense could be. And with just 29 seconds to go in the quarter, the Eagles struck first. On a drive that took nearly four minutes off the clock, Bo Desheemaeker was able to find the end zone on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Chance Corry. The Eagles went up 7-0 to start the game, but after looking good for one drive they never re-emerged as an offensive threat. The Pony defense stepped up in a big way and took the Eagles out of the picture. The remainder of the matchup, the Pony defense forced five punts, two turnovers on downs, a Kent Pattison interception in the end zone and a late fourth-quarter Pattison fumble recovery. “Overall, the defense held their ground and didn’t give up the big play,” Sukut said. “We felt that if we could take care of their isolation plays and perimeter run we would be ok. And their screen game, they are huge with that and I don’t think they even got a yard. We handled it really well.” Defensively the Ponies took control of the game after the first quarter. And following suite, the Pony offense would also step up. Late in the first quarter Pattison returned a punt 55 yards to give the Ponies outstanding field position. And to start the second quarter, the Ponies were able to convert the short yardage into seven points. In a third-and-long situation, HHS went to the air. And on a 25-yard touchdown pass, C.J. Evans found an open Layne Waid who made his way to the end zone with 11:19 still to be played in the second quarter. After showing what they were capable of when in sync, the Pony offense would have to wait for another shot at the end zone. While their defense was holding strong, so was Lewistown. The remainder of the second quarter played out scoreless, as did the entire third. And heading into the fourth quarter tied at 7-7, it was anybody’s game. The Ponies knew the importance of starting out with a win in conference play and seized the opportunity. They had been pounding the ball inside on the ground all night, but it was the pass game that came through once again. To start the fourth quarter, the Ponies had possession close to midfield. They worked their way into Eagle territory, and found success through the air. But this time around it was Logan Connor on the receiving end of an Evans' pass. With 7:57 left to play in the contest, Connor pulled in the 18-yard toss that resulted in the winning touchdown and a 14-7 lead. “That has to happen,” Sukut said. “It’s easy for the armchair quarterbacks out there to say we need to be running the ball. But when you run into teams like Lewistown that totally sell out to take away the run you have to be able to mix in the passing game.” The Blue Pony offense wasn’t content. And with the help of their defense, the ball returned to the Ponies after only a 53-second three-and-out by the Eagles. Pattison had been playing well all night for the Ponies, and in all facets of the game. He had been picking up big yards on offense and special teams, and even made some crucial stops on defense. He is the Ponies' go-to-guy on the ground, and has proven to be a game changer. On the night, Pattison was the work horse. He rushed the ball 30 times and for 146 of the 189 yards on the ground. And late in the game, all of his hard work paid off again. The Ponies were more than glad to have the lead, but at 14-7 it wasn’t a comfortable one. But with 5:37 left in the game, Pattison was able to extend the cushion with another Pony score. They had found the end zone twice through the air, but this time around Pattison crossed the goal line on a stellar 28-yard run. “Our line really stepped up,” Pattison said. “They gave me some big holes and I just had to turn on the afterburners to get into the end zone. I knew as long as we kept running the ball and as long as our line kept doing their thing somebody from the running game would break one loose. I am just happy to get a win, and beating Lewistown feels especially good.” After struggling with the passing game a week ago, this week the Ponies looked to be back on track. They had a good mixture of run and pass plays, and found the end zone in both situations. The Ponies had 276 yards of offense, while Evans was 5-of-11 in the air with two touchdowns. John Perrodin had two catches for 13 yards, while Connor had one for 18 and Waid had one for 25. Overall, the Ponies ran the ball 40 times for 189 yards. With a 1-0 start to conference play, the Ponies are headed back out on the road this week. Havre will visit rival Butte Central Saturday night in Butte.