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Rangers steal Ponies' senior night thunder

Livingston scores late to edge Havre in home finale


October 16, 2017

Colin Thompson

Havre High's Trey Murphy looks down field during Friday night's Eastern A football game between the Blue Ponies and Livingston Rangers at Blue Pony Stadium. The Ponies fell short of their first win of the season, with a 22-14 defeat.

Many expected a hard-fought game between the Havre High Blue Ponies, and Livingston Rangers, and last Friday night at Blue Pony Stadium, that’s exactly what we got.

The Eastern A rivals, who were each 0-7 heading into the home finale for HHS, battled for 48 minutes and even one untimed down, before Livingston narrowly escaped with a 22-14 win.

“It’s tough,” HHS head coach Ryan Gatch said. “We got down 14-0 early, but our kids kept fighting, they kept battling. We came back and we gave ourselves a chance to win the game. We were right there in the last couple minutes of the fourth quarter. They just made one more play than we did.”

Livingston (1-7) had an ideal start to the game, as Brock Peterson intercepted Trey Murphy and returned it 46 yards to give the Rangers a 6-0 at the 11:41 mark in the first quarter. Later in the opening stanza, Livingston added another touchdown, this one coming on a 41-yard touchdown run by John Waddell. At that point, following a two-point conversion, the Ponies trailed 14-0.

Yet, late in the second quarter, Havre finally was able to find the end zone. Ivar Aageson made a spectacular catch-and-run for 22 yards, which got the Ponies to the one-yard line. Then, Mason Dionne scored a rushing touchdown, making the score 14-6 with 4:17 left in the first half.

“I thought the kids did a nice job of bouncing back,” Gatch said. “We could have hung our heads after the way that game started. But we battled back, our defense did a good job and we were able to get back into it.”

The Havre defense forced a punt after the touchdown, giving HHS the ball again before half. And with good field position, the Ponies were determined to take advantage. Murphy connected with Ethan Roberts on a 40-yard reception to get the ball to the Livingston 14. Two plays later, Murphy hit Aageson on a slant for a 10-yard touchdown pass and after a two-point pass to Jacob Irvin, the score was tied, 14-14, with 1:04 before intermission.

“Ethan Roberts, I think he had one of the best games he has played all season,” Gatch said. “We had a lot of kids step up. We had some kids playing varsity for the first time, and I really thought they stepped in and really competed hard.”

The score right before halftime, would be the last by either team until the final minute of the game. Both teams had chances, but each team saw drives get foiled by sacks or turnovers. Midway through the final stanza, Jack Waddell caught a 40-yard pass from Livingston quarterback John Waddell, putting the Rangers deep in Havre territory. Yet, the Pony defense forced a fumble, which Havre recovered, giving it the ball back at its own 20, with 2:08 left in the game.

However, the ensuing drive opened with a sack on first down, effectively ending any hopes of a game-winning score. Eventually, the Ponies would face a fourth-and-six inside its own 25, but a failed fake punt gave Livingston the ball back at the Havre 27 with 1:03 remaining.

“Our guy was trying to make a play,” Gatch said. “And we just came up a little short, which was unfortunate.”

Following the turnover, Waddell completed a pass to move the ball inside the Pony 10, before finding Peterson for a five-yard touchdown with 37 seconds left. With the two-point conversion, Livingston went ahead 22-14.

“It was too bad, because we were really playing well, especially on defense,” Gatch said. “We gave up the big run to them early and then after that, we did a pretty good job of containing them.”

With half a minute to work with, the outlook was bleak for Havre, but a short kickoff and a 15-yard run return by Jeremiah Hughes gave the Ponies the ball near midfield. A short completion and a roughing the passer call, moved the ball into Livingston territory, then another completion from Murphy to Roberts advanced it to the 20 with 17 seconds left.

Two incompletions brought up a third down with just seconds left to play, Murphy threw the ball to Roberts, who was interfered with, giving Havre another chance with no time left on the clock. Murphy then threw the ball in the end zone on the next play, but it was batted away, giving Livingston the eight-point win.

“Our guys never gave up, they fought to the final play,” Gatch said. “So I was really happy with that. We even had a chance there at the end. They got called for the pass interference there, but I thought, if our guy didn’t get tackled on that play, we might have scored. So that’s always tough, but give them credit, they made more plays than we did.”

When it was all said and done, Murphy finished his last career start at Blue Pony Stadium, with 230 yards and one touchdown after completing 17-of-25 passes. Aageson also had a solid night, with five catches for 72 yards, while Roberts also pitched in with four catches for 54. Senior Brady Ophus also contributed with four receptions for 48 yards. Mason Dionne added 52 rushing yards on 15 carries, as well as 29 yards on three receptions. Irvin also caught one pass for 27 yards, in addition to catching a two-point conversion.

Defensively, Roberts had a big night with 10 stops for Havre. Taylor Gopher also added seven tackles, including two for loss, while Tanner Parsons finished with six tackles, one sack and one tackle for loss.

Havre (0-8) will travel to Miles City Friday night for the season finale.

Livingston 22, Blue Ponies 14

Livingston 14 0 0 8 - 22

Havre 0 14 0 0 - 14

L - Brock Peterson 46 interception return (conversion no good)

L - John Waddell 41 run (conversion good)

H - Mason Dionne 1 run (conversion no good)

Colin Thompson

Havre's Dawson Kinsella, right, drags down a Livingston runner during Friday night's game at Blue Pony Stadium.

H - Ivar Aageson 11 pass fromTrey Murphy (Murphy to Jacob Irvin)

L - Peterson 4 pass from Waddell (conversion good)

Havre Individual Stats

Passing - Trey Murphy, 17-25 230.

Rushing - Mason Dionne, 15-52; Jeremiah Hughes, 5-27; Ethan Roberts 1 - (-6); Ivar Aageson, 2 - (-10); Trey Murphy, 9 - (-47).

Receiving - Ivar Aageson, 5-72; Ethan Roberts, 4-54; Brady Ophus, 4-48l Mason Dionne, 3-29; Jacob Irvin, 1-27.


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