By Kim Staudinger
The Havre High football team finally got to play its first game at home Friday night against the Glendive Red Devils. The Ponies, who traveled to both ends of the state in the weekends past, nearly took the home-field advantage and turned it into a loss.
However, the Ponies hung on for a 27-7 victory.
"We overlooked them a little bit," head coach Troy Purcell said. "With homecoming and the home crowd, we got a little too confident."
Purcell says his team was tired before the game with all the homecoming activities going on, which took the players out of their normal routine. Even still he said his team should have been better prepared.
"The first half was definitely sloppy," he said. "But that's no excuse, they will be ready to go next game."
"We started off really slow," senior runningback Kevin Harada said. "We have to get over our slow starts, they have been killing us the whole year."
The Ponies broke a 7-7 deadlock at the 7:26 mark in the third when Danny Wirtzberger ran untouched off his right lineman from the one yard line into the end zone.
"That play hasn't failed us all year," Harada said. "It's a tough play to defend, but without that line, no play would work."
Senior Kyle Sheppard's 28-yard run set up Havre's go-ahead score. After receiving the handoff from Wirtzberger, Harada flipped the ball on the reverse to Sheppard, who weaved his way around two key blocks before being pulled down at the four yard line.
Havre added to its lead with 1:15 left in the third, scoring on a touchdown by Jason Johnstone. The attempt at the two-point conversion failed, but Havre still had the lead at 19-7.
"We kicked it in gear and got the job done in the second half," Harada said."
Havre scored an insurance touchdown with just over 5 minutes left in the fourth on a ten-yard pass from Wirtzberger. Well-protected in the pocket, Wirtzberger lept in the air to get a better view over Glendive's defensive line and, at the peak of his jump, launched the pass to Harada in the left corner. Wirtzberger punctuated the touchdown with a two-point conversion pass to Steve Harman for a 27-7 Pony advantage.
The Red Devils only score of the game came at the 9:46 mark in the first quarter after Adam Vogel intercepted a Wirtzberger pass at the 31-yard line. Glendive took only four plays to complete the score and take the early lead.
Sheppard got an interception three minutes later, giving Havre the ball with good field position. The Ponies scored four plays later, tying the game at seven with five minutes to play in the first. Neither team would score in the second quarter.
"They were a solid team," Purcell said. "They had a pretty good package set against us."
Purcell said his team has a few things they need to work on before next Friday's game against Laurel, but the more important thing is getting his team healthy.
"Kyle (Sheppard) broke his thumb and he definitely won't see any time at receiver and might not play at all," he said.
Havre travels to Laurel Friday with game time scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Glendive Chuck Madler 18 yard pass from Tyler Buckley (kick good)
Havre Harada 31 yard run (Wirtzberger kick)
Havre Wirtzberger 1 yard run (kick failed)
Havre Johnstone 1 yard pass from Wirtzberger (two-point conversion failed)
Havre Harada 10 yard pass from Wirtzberger (Harman pass from Wirtzberger)
Rushing Wirtzberger 9-for-18, 74 yards, 1 interception, 1 two-point conversion; 22 rushes for 97 yards, 1 touchdown; Levi Briese 7 rushes for 28 yards; Harada 15 rushes for 101 yards and 1 touchdown; Sheppard 1 rush for 31 yards; Jacob Szudera 1 rush for 5 yards.
Receiving Harada 1 for 10 yards and 1 touchdown; Sheppard 2 for 31 yards; Harman 1 for 3 yards, two-point conversion; Briese 5 for 32 yards; Johnstone 1 for 1 yard, one touchdown.
Harada and Briese each had 6 assisted tackles and 5 unassisted. Szudera had 5 assisted and 3 unassisted. Harada, Jacob Lorang and Justin Kegel added one caused fumble. Buck Christofferson had a fumble recovery.
Harada and Sheppard each had interceptions, and Josh Klobofski had a sack.