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Blue Ponies tame the Lions on homecoming

The Havre High football team has been on a tear lately and if Friday night at Blue Pony Stadium is any indication, it will not be slowing down soon. In their homecoming game, the Blue Ponies defeated the visiting Lockwood Lions 36-7. Despite some early turnovers, the Ponies put together a strong effort to win their third straight game."

"All around, it was a great effort by our guys in all three phases of the game," HHS head Jake Eldridge said. "There was adversity, we had some big plays, there were some goal-line stands and we created some turnovers."

After forcing a Lockwood three and out to start the game, the Ponies drove down the field on their opening drive. After converting a third down with a run, quarterback Kale Van Campen connected with Colter Solomon for another first down at the Lockwood 29-yard line. Later on another third down, Tate Nelson ran the ball to the 17-yard line for a conversion.

But a mistake cost the Ponies points on the promising drive. On a third and three at the ten-yard line, Dylan Byrd intercepted Van Campen's pass to end the drive.

The Lions did nothing with the takeaway as they punted the ball after another three and out. With the ball back, Nelson handled the load for the Ponies. On the first play of the drive, Nelson ran it for 13 yards down to the Lockwood 34-yard line. After Van Campen connected with Solomon to convert a fourth down, Nelson ran the ball three straight times for the Ponies. His last carry for the Ponies went for three yards and a touchdown to give Havre a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.

Now trailing, the Lions finally put a drive together themselves. Early in the drive, they converted a third and 11 when quarterback Tyce Casterline completed a pass to Zicciah Callison-Blake. Then at the Lockwood 47-yard line, Casterline found Callison-Blake deep down the right sideline for a 31-yard gain into Havre territory.

After giving up the big play, the Havre defense held strong. After the Lions failed to convert on their first three attempts, they went for it on fourth and six at the 18-yard line. Casterline threw the ball into the end zone, but there was heavy traffic and Jason Wold broke it up for the incompletion.

With the ball back, the Ponies continued to drive down the field. But the Ponies shot themselves in the foot again as they lost a fumble around midfield to give it back to Lockwood.

With another takeaway, the Lions looked to take advantage. They converted on a fourth down early in the drive with a quarterback keeper from Casterline. But their momentum stalled at the Havre 43-yard line. On fourth and 13, Casterline's pass went incomplete and the Ponies got the ball back.

"It's just the maturity of our group. They understand that we're not going to be perfect and there's going to be times when we turn the ball over and make mistakes," Eldridge said about the Ponies' response after the turnover. "They come back for the next play and give everything they have for the next play and overcome those things."

The Ponies quickly got back to work on offense. On a third and seven, Nelson carried the ball 14 yards for the first down at the Lockwood 43-yard line. Two plays later, Van Campen bought time scrambling before finding Carson Harris deep down the middle of the field for a touchdown. After a Lockwood penalty, Tre Gary found Jacob Herring in the end zone for the two-point conversion to make it 15-0 with just over three minutes left in the half.

The Lions and Ponies went on to exchange possessions to end the half. The Ponies then got the ball to start the second half, but had to punt it away after a three and out.

The Lions started their opening drive of the second half on their own nine-yard line. Early on, the Ponies played good defense to make it third and nine at the ten-yard line. But Casterline was able to find Byrd deep down the right sideline, who took it all the way for the 90-yard score to cut Havre's lead to 15-7.

Despite the big play, the Ponies did not let that faze them. Van Campen got the drive started with a couple of runs that picked up a first down. Later on a third and five, Van Campen converted with a completion to Gary to the Lockwood 23-yard line.

Van Campen ran the ball on the next two plays to make it first down at the 13-yard line. Nelson then ran the ball on the next two plays, including a ten-yard score to extend the lead to 22-7. After giving up the score on defense, Eldridge was not surprised his team quickly responded.

"They trust each other, they trust the scheme and they know that if they execute, they're going to be fine," Eldridge said.

After another Lockwood three and out, the Ponies put together another drive. The Ponies continued to move the ball through the air as Van Campen connected with Gary for a third-down conversion early in the drive. After a fourth-down conversion, Van Campen kept the ball for a 35-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 29-7 late in the third quarter.

The Lions fumbled on their next possession and the Ponies quickly cashed in. After two runs to make it second and goal at the Lockwood five-yard line, Van Campen found Herring for the score to make it 36-7. The Ponies put several of their backups in for most of the fourth quarter. Still, the Havre defense played well as the Lions failed to score the rest of the game.

The Ponies are now 5-2 on the season with three straight wins. While the Ponies should be proud of their success so far this season, Eldridge believes the Ponies need to remain hungry if they want to carry their momentum forward.

"It just comes back to what got us here. It's coming back on Monday and going back to work," Eldridge said. "If you start to hang on the successes that you've had, then you start to forget about the things that got you there. I think it's just regrouping and going back to work."

The HHS football team will next play on the road against Livingston on Friday.


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