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Locomotives steamroll Blue Ponies in the second half

 

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Daniel Horton Havre Daily News [email protected]

The Havre High football team had its backs up against the wall a number of times during the regular season. But after fighting their way back into the Class A playoffs, the Blue Ponies season came to an unsettling end. On Saturday, the Central A Ponies were on the road facing the No. 3 Eastern A Laurel Locomotives. And though the Ponies had a slight, three-point edge on the Locomotives heading into halftime, it was the Locomotives who came away with the first round win, 38- 21 in Laurel. “It was just really disappointing,” Havre High head coach Kevin Sukut said. “We played as good of a first half of football as we've played all year. Everything was functioning across the board, our offense and defense did a great job, and it was very positive going into the half with the lead. But what was really a close game all the way through thee quarters; they blew wide open in the fourth quarter. It had to do with our turnovers and bad breaks. You can't make mistakes like the ones we had in the fourth quarter against a team as good as they were.” To start the game, the Ponies looked impressive. They were able to mix the pass and run, and effectively move the ball down the field. And with 3:21 left on the clock, Kent Pattison helped the Ponies strike first and take a 7-0 lead with a four-yard rushing touchdown. The Locomotives were shut out in the first quarter of play, but showed up offensively in the second. They opened up with a one-yard rushing touchdown with 7:59 to play, and ended with a 35- yard field goal as time expired. But the Pony offense was still a factor in the second quarter. Splitting the two Locomotive scores, Cordeiro Strickland found himself on the receiving end of a 14-yard touchdown pass from C.J. Evans with just 40 seconds left in the first half. Overall, Evans had a good day passing minus the turnovers. He was 18- for-28 for 159 yards and had two touchdowns. Strickland had eight receptions for 66 yards and a TD, while John Perrodin was the second-leading receiver with three catches for 33 yards. Pattison also had three catches for 29 yards. “I thought we did as good of job all year mixing the run and pass,” Sukut said. “They played us really well defensively, but yet we were able to mix things up. That's why I felt really good going into halftime, I felt we had a really good rhythm.” And though the Ponies felt good heading into the half, the Locomotives changed their feeling in the second half. The third quarter was mostly a defensive battle. The Locomotives had the only score, and it was one of the major turning points in the contest. The Locomotives received the ball to start the half, and took advantage. And on a 48-yard pass from Dylan Kramer, Brian Flotkoetter put his Locomotives out in front of the Ponies 17-13. “The rest of the third quarter was just a back-and-forth struggle,” Sukut said “But that turned the momentum. When they got the lead they were able to get a little more aggressive with their defense, they came after us harder and I give them a lot of credit. In that third quarter they did a good job of coming up and taking away our run game.” Pattison alone has averaged over 100 yards per game rushing this season. But after his first-quarter score, the Ponies' running game was relatively dormant, totaling only 89-yards on 29 carries. Pattison carried the ball 17 times and had only 64 yards. Perrodin and Casey Schaub have also been productive on the ground, but were held to a combined 18 yards on seven carries. Trailing 17-13 through three quarters of play, the Ponies were still in contention. But as every coach would say, the team who wins the turnover battle will normally win the game. And in the fourth quarter, the Locomotives won the battle and the game. As the game progressed, the Ponies turned to the air. They had thrown well all afternoon, but late in game HHS gave up two interceptions that led to Locomotive touchdowns, the first a oneyard run by Kramer, then a 56-yard return by Sean Condon. “That's tough to overcome,” Sukut said. “We just had to scramble and try to get back into it. But we made mistakes late and they didn't.” The Ponies also had a mistake on special teams that cost them another touchdown. After the first Locomotive interception in the fourth, the Ponies suffered an unfortunate turnover on the ensuing kick. With the extreme winds, the Locomotives were simply trying to get some distance on the kick by putting it low and direct. And as the Ponies dropped back into coverage, the wind sent the ball deflecting off an HHS jersey and back into the possession of the Locomotives. The recovered kick led to the second of the three fourth-quarter Locomotive scores. And again it was Kramer, this time on a 47-yard run to the pay dirt. HHS fought till the end, but still came up short. Layne Waid added a four-yard reception and score with 3:14 left to play, but with a 38-21 lead the Locomotives held on and extended their season. The Ponies knew this was a game they could have won. And with their season coming to an end earlier than planned, they returned to Havre wanting more. They finished with an overall record of 5-4, but were disappointed after a hard-fought season. “I think everybody was disappointed,” Sukut said. “We all had higher hopes for this season. But I am proud of the team and coaching staff because we went through a lot of adversity over the course of the year.”

 

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