A game can look tight to start, but that same game can quickly get away from a team due to turnovers.
The Havre High football team was in a tight game with the non-conference Polson Pirates on Friday night in Polson, but watched an early lead disappear against a very talented Northwestern A team after a tough defensive and offensive outing by the Ponies.
The Pirates defeated the Central A Ponies 52-20. The Pirates are now 2-1 in league and 5-2 overall, while Havre dropped to 3-4 overall, while remaining in second place in the Central A.
Turnovers did the Ponies in, even though the offense finished with solid numbers across the board. HHS finished with 319 passing yards from Dane Warp and another 93 on the ground, all adding up to 20 points on three touchdowns. But after getting off to a great start, a first-quarter fumble and interception by the Ponies seemed to turn the tables in the Pirates’ favor.
“When you are playing one of the better teams in the state turnovers are a huge factor,” Havre High head coach Jason Christenson said. “And those are things that can come back to haunt you, and they did. But regardless of that, I thought our offense executed and performed well. The 420 yards is a pretty good game, but those turnovers hurt us.”
HHS took the 7-0 lead early, capitalizing on a three-yard pass from Warp to Nate Rismon in the first quarter. The Ponies even answered a Polson score with a 30-yard scoring pass from Warp to Rismon to take a 14-7 first quarter lead. But after the first quarter fumble and interception, the Pirates reeled off five consecutive scores to end the first half with a 31-14 lead over the Ponies. The Pirates scored three rushing scores, a big passing score, and a field goal to build the big lead over the Ponies before the break.
The Ponies had three total interceptions on the game. Havre never found a groove again after the first quarter, and the Pirates went on to outscore the Ponies 21-6 in the second half. Parker Filius scored on a 75-yard pass in the third quarter for the Ponies’ only second-half points.
Filius finished with six catches for 155 yards, while Gruber caught five passes for 53 yards. Rismon also caught three passes for 45 yards, while Kody Pribyl finished with three catches for 44 yards, Tristen Manuel finished with three catches for 35 yards, and Ryne Antley finished with one catch for 12 yards. Warp led the rushing attack with seven carries for 34 yards, while Manuel finished with 31 yards on eight carries.
Mistakes proved to be costly for the offense, and they left the defense on the field for too much of the game. The HHS defense made some solid stands, but the Pirates finished with 432 rushing yards and 119 passing yards.
“They proved to be a very balanced team,” Christenson said. “But I thought we had some kids step up, Jace Billy had a big game, Thomas Gruber had a big game, Kody Pribyl had a big game, and Trevor Jensen proved why he is one of the better safeties in the conference. But you can’t give up 432 yards on the ground and expect to win a ballgame. We have to get back to the basics with our fronts, we pride ourselves with our front seven making the tackles, and we have to get back to that.”
Defensively the Ponies were led by Trevor Jensen with 12 tackles and Jace Billy with 10 tackles. Gruber also had eight, while Kyle Duitsmen and Pribyl both finished with five tackles each. Gruber and Jensen helped lead the defense, but that was necessarily a good thing according to Christenson. The Pirates chipped off a lot of big runs on route to more than 400-yards, meaning the Gruber and Jensen had to step up and make the tackle as the last line of defense.
The Ponies will return to action on Friday when they finish off the regular season with a conference matchup in Browning, taking on the conference rival Indians.
Polson 52, Ponies 20
Havre 14 0 6 0 — 20
Polson 14 17 7 14 — 52
HHS — Nate Rismon 3 pass from Dane Warp (kick failed)
POL — Andrew Weltz 5 run (Brady Hislop kick)
HHS — Nate Rismon 30 pass from Dane Warp (Warp run)
POL — Tanner Wilson 54 pass from Andrew Weltz (Brady Hislop kick)
POL — Andrew Weltz 8 run (Brady Hislop kick)
POL — Brady Hislop 15 run (Brady Hislop kick)
POL — Brady Hislop 22 field goal
POL — Andrew Weltz 1 run (Brady Hislop kick)
HHS — Parker Filius 75 pass from Dane Warp (pass failed)
POL — Brady Hislop 13 run (Brady Hislop kick)
POL — Tanner Wilson 56 run (Brady Hislop kick)
Havre Individual Statistics
Passing: Dane Warp 19-29, Parker Filius 2-17
Rushing: Dane Warp 7-34, Parker Filius 5-7, Tristen Manuel 8-31, Kody Pribyl 5-19.
Receiving: Parker Filius 6-155, Thomas Gruber 5-53, Nate Rismon 3-45, Kody Pribyl 3-44, Tristen Manuel 3-35, Ryne Antley 1-12.