Not only did the Havre High football team get back onto the winning track over the weekend, the Blue Ponies did so in exciting fashion, and on a conference rivalry stage.
The Central A Ponies and Lewistown Golden Eagles finally met on Friday night in Lewistown. It was the Ponies second conference game of the season, after starting out 0-1 with a loss to Belgrade, while it was the Eagles first conference game of the season and their homecoming. But staying in the hunt for a post season, the Ponies were able defeat the Eagles 40-35, improving to 1-1 in the conference in the meantime.
“It is tough to win in Lewistown,” Havre High head coach Jason Christenson said. “It was their homecoming and there was a lot of hoopla to get caught up into, but they remained focused and played hard. We still had some ups and downs, but we battled through them and it was a good win for us. We needed it., we needed it for the confidence, and to get that winning taste back in our mouths.”
But while the Ponies were able to get the five-point victory, they had to fend off a roaring Eagles offense in the final frame.
Heading into the fourth quarter, the Ponies led the Eagles 32-14. HHS scored one touchdown in the first quarter, two touchdowns in the second quarter, and two more times in the third. The Eagles put up just seven points in the first quarter, seven points in the second quarter, and zero in the third. But even with the 18-point lead by the Ponies, the Eagles put up a valiant effort in the fourth, challenging the Ponies with a barrage of end zone appearances.
Lewistown came alive in the final frame, posting 21-points on the HHS defense. The Eagles racked up a total of 466 yards, 168 passing and 298 rushing. And while the HHS defense played outstanding for most of the contest, some let downs and turnovers opened the hatch for the Eagles in the fourth. Jacob Williams led the defense with 17 tackles, while Thomas Gruber had 10 tackles and one interception. Jace Billy also had six tackles and an interception. Zach Plum was also in the mix, tying a defensive school record with three interceptions in the game.
Tyler Adams also had 11 tackles, while Trevor Jensen had seven tackles in his first varsity start at strong safety.
The Eagles proved why their running game garnered so much talk, adding three more running scores, and totaling five rushing scores on the evening. The Eagles punched in scores from 12, 44 and one-yard out in the fourth quarter. Ethan Blythe and Dylan Stenseth both scored two times, showing off the Eagles’ one-two punch in the ground game.
But after a hot start to the contest, the Pony offense finished up with solid numbers across the board as well. Their eight points scored in the final frame was just enough to get the Ponies back home with their first conference win of the season, and they did so in record setting fashion.
Freshman quarterback Dane Warp took another big leap forward. Warp had five touchdowns, while also completing 19-of-32 passes for a grand total of 438 yards. The 438 yards are a new HHS record, while his five TD passes tied the school record with former greats Gary Wagner and Bo Evans. Warp connected with Thomas Gruber on a 15-yard pass and a 53-yard pass for scores, while also connecting with Thurman Holdsclaw on a 25-yard pass, a 67-yard pass, and on a 67-yard pass for scores.
Holdsclaw had 185 yards and three scores through the air. Plum followed with 176 yards and one schore, while Gruber was good for 75 yards and one score as well.
On the ground, the Ponies also put up reasonable numbers. HHS was led by Holdsclaw with 69-yards, followed by Plum with just four yards.
“After the game I reassured the kids that they needed to continue to play hard,” Christenson said. “Mathematically, we still aren’t out of a conference championship, things happen and we just have to keep winning. We are still in the hunt, and the kids need to realize that and keep working hard.”
Friday the Ponies are back home at the Blue Pony stadium, hosting the non-conference Libby Loggers.
Blue Ponies 40, Lewistown 35
Havre 6 14 12 8 – 40
Lewistown 7 7 0 21 – 35
HHS - Zach Plum 4 run (kick failed)
LEW - Ethan Blythe 5 run (Andy Butcher kick)
LEW - Daylin Stenseth 5 run (Butcher kick)
HHS - Thomas Gruber 15 pass from Dane Warp (Thurman Holdsclaw pass from Warp)
HHS - Thurman Holdsclaw 25 pass from Dane Warp (pass failed)
HHS – Thurman Holdsclaw 37 pass from Dane Warp (pass failed)
HHS – Thomas Gruber 53 pass from Dane Warp (pass failed)
LEW – James Durheim 12 run (Brock Butcher run)
LEW – Ethan Blythe 44 run (Brock Butcher kick)
HHS – Thurman Holdsclaw 67 pass from Dane Warp (run failed)
LEW - Dylan Stenseth 1 run (Brock Butcher kick)
Passing – Dane Warp 19-32-438
Rushing – Thurman Holdsclaw 12-69, Zach Plum 1-4
Receiving – Thurman Holdsclaw 7-185, Zach Plum 6-176, Thomas Gruber 6-75