Fighting back: Blue Ponies trample Browning
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Daniel Horton Havre Daily News [email protected]
For those who were concerned with how the Havre High football team would respond to a tough conference loss a week ago, the Blue Ponies' play this weekend should have eased some of that doubt. On Friday night the Central A Ponies hosted the conference rival Browning Indians at Blue Pony Stadium, where the Ponies walked away with a 41-0 shutout win to bounce back into playoff contention. “It was satisfying,” Havre High head coach Kevin Sukut said. “It was a big step in the right direction, especially coming off of the tough Butte Central loss where you don't know how the kids are going to respond.” “This win is huge for us,” Sukut added. “It puts us back in contention for the conference championship. We had to have it. We can't afford to lose these games if we want to get into the postseason.” The Ponies got off to another slow start, but a lot of the credit for that goes to the Indian's defensive scheme. Coming into the game the Ponies knew they would be up against a heavy dose of run blitz, and the Indians delivered. But knowing how the Indians would execute on defense, the Ponies knew the passing game had to bail them out by neutralizing the Indians defense. And with 3:27 left in the first quarter, C.J. Evans snapped the slow start and connected with John Perrodin for a 16-yard touchdown reception and a 7-0 lead. “They (Browning) did a really good job of slowing us down early,” Sukut said. “We knew they were going to bring heat, every year when we play them they do. We had to make some adjustments here and there, but after we were able to loosen them up a bit our game kicked back in.” The Pony defense gave their offense a chance to win. The offense punted away their first possession and then their next two after the Perrodin score. But keeping the Indians out of the end zone on 11 possessions, the Ponies never really seemed worried or felt like they weren't in control. And after being patient, and chipping away at the Indian defense, the Ponies found the end zone two more times in the second quarter. First, with 1:41 left to play in the half, Kent Pattison ran one in from 15 yards out. Then, after recovering a Browning fumble, Pattison reeled in a 16-yard touchdown pass from Evans with just five seconds left in the half to go up 21-0. It may have been a slow start for the Ponies, but once their play in the air opened up, so did everything else. “As we opened up the passing game they softened up a bit more on the blitz,” Sukut said. “We killed them with screens, and, when that happened, they slowed down the blitz. And when they slowed down the blitz we were able to go back on the ground and hammer it at them with a lot of success.” Pattison had already found paydirt twice, but he wasn't done on the ground. Late in the third quarter he showed why the Ponies' run game has made them so successful, and ran for his second touchdown, and third of the game, this time coming on a 75-yard jaunt. HHS carried a 28-0 lead into the fourth quarter, but for the Indians when it rained it poured. Evans found the end zone through the air on his third touchdown pass of the night. This time with 11:01 left in the contest, Evans connected with Jake Myers for a 44-yard score, going up 34-0 on yet another Danny Roe converted PAT kick. Fridays game was Evans' first action after missing the Butte Central game last weekend. “It was huge,” Evans said. “It was a confidence factor for me and the team. It's huge to come back and get a win this weekend.” Evans didn't get the start, but after entering the game he was 8-of-12 for 95 yards in the air, and three scores. After playing well against Butte Central last Saturday, sophomore Justin Jensen got the start on Friday night against Browning. “He (Jensen) deserved it,” Sukut said. “And you are going to see him getting snaps the rest of the year. He stepped in and filled the need when we needed it and did a good job with it. You get a kid who works hard behind the scenes, and when they get their opportunity they take advantage, and I think he did a pretty good job of that.” Jensen got adequate playing time on Friday night, and even led a late fourth-quarter scoring drive. With 6:20 left to play, the Ponies marched down the field and put seven more points on the board to cap off a dominating performance. It was Jacob Ulgenes getting the call, and on a three-yard rush he put the Ponies up 41-0. The Ponies got good performances from their offensive weapons, and found a way to execute through the air and on the ground. Overall, the Ponies rushed for 244 yards, while Pattison led with 140 on 12 carries. Perrodin also chipped in with eight attempts for 60 yards. Myers also led the Ponies in receiving with his touchdown catch for 44 yards, adding to Havre's 339 total yards of offense. Defensively, the Ponies were also successful. Perrodin moved back to outside linebacker, and was a big reason the Ponies were successful in stopping the Browning running game, and offense overall. The Ponies held Dante Northcut to 119 yards and no scores. And overall, they held the Indians to only 220 yards in total offense. Perrodin led the Ponies with 12 tackles, and Casey Schaub followed with 11 tackles and a fumble recovery. “We had our customary slow start,” Sukut said. “But our defense stepped up. We did a good job of bending and not breaking. And hanging a zero on the scoreboard is a great moral booster.” HHS moved to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the conference. Now the Ponies prepare to host Livingston this Friday. Havre High will honor its seniors before it plays Livingston in what will be the final regular season home game for the Ponies.