Behind by a pair of touchdowns early in the fourth quarter, the Nighthawks rallied with a trio of touchdowns to defeat Center-Stanton 40-32 Saturday night at the Badlands Activities Center 9-man Jamboree.
Posted August 30, 2012
By EDDIE HIBBS III
Pioneer Publisher & Editor
DICKINSON – Behind by a pair of touchdowns early in the fourth quarter, the Nighthawks rallied with a trio of touchdowns to defeat Center-Stanton 40-32 Saturday night at the Badlands Activities Center 9-man Jamboree.
Trailing 32-18 one minute into the fourth quarter, Hettinger-Scranton head coach Randy Burwick wasn’t worried, though his players were.
“We were absolutely concerned,” said senior Stephen Kristy. “It was very stressful.”
Kristy helped rectify the situation, grabbing five catches for 114 yards. Three of those catches were scores.
“We’ve got guys that can play,” Burwick said. “They gutted it out. In years past, we would have said enough is enough and folded up the tent. These guys are different.”
Twice the Wildcats built two-touchdown leads. Both times, the Nighthawks soared back.
On Center-Stanton’s second possession, the Wildcats took advantage of a 34-yard scamper from senior Jordan Hoffman on the first play of the drive. An 11-yard pass from junior Logan Staigle to junior Daniel Henke moved the ball to the 2. Two plays later, Staigle scored from the one. Junior Matthew Gonzalez ran the conversion and the Wildcats led 8-6 with 3:54 left in the opening quarter.
Just like in the season opener Aug. 21 against Bowman County, the Nighthawk defense put points on the board before their offensive counterparts. After three offensive possessions by the Nighthawks without points on the board, Hettinger-Scranton’s defense stepped up and with 1:51 left in the quarter, forced a fumble which was recovered by senior Chandler Miller in the end zone for a touchdown. The two-point conversion failed and the Wildcats held an 8-6 advantage.
The Wildcats would score the next two touchdowns. The first was set up by a blocked punt, giving Center-Stanton possession just eight yards from the goal line. Two plays later, Hoffman scored the first of his three TDs from the five.
After the Nighthawks turned the ball over on downs on their next possession, the Wildcats just needed one play as Staigle connected with Hoffman for a 47-yard TD strike. Both conversions failed and Center-Stanton led 20-6 with 4:38 left in the half.
The Nighthawks answered, though, as junior quarterback Kye Erickson tossed Kristy a 15-yard strike at 2:18, closing the gap to 20-12.
The Wildcats dominated the halftime statistics, leading in rushing (69-34), passing (92-58), total yards (161-92) and first downs (9-3).
Hettinger-Scranton struck first in the second half as Erickson scored on a quarterback sneak from the one with 2:10 left in the third. The PAT failed and Center-Stanton led 20-18.
The Wildcats would score back-to-back touchdowns as Hoffman scampered 50 yards to paydirt on Center-Stanton’s next possession. Center-Stanton’s defense forced the Nighthawks to punt on their next possession, and that resulted in a 58-yard return for the score. With the conversion, the Wildcats led 32-18 with 10:55 left in the game.
That’s when the Nighthawk offense went to work.
After a pass interference call on the first snap, Erickson found Kristy for a 44-yard bomb and the Nighthawks closed the gap to 32-24 with 10:28 on the clock.
On Center-Stanton’s next possession, the Nighthawk defense forced and recovered a fumble. The offense didn’t let the opportunity slip away.
“Making the plays of offense just powered our defense,” Erickson said. “We were getting excited and getting our hopes up. We realized that we can do this.”
And, they did.
Five plays later, Erickson scored again from the one on a keeper with 7:42 to go. On the conversion, the signal caller found freshman Haydon Sadowsky and the game was tied at 32.
The Nighthawk defense held Center-Stanton without a first down on its next possession. Following the punt and return, the Nighthawks set up near midfield for what would be the game-winning drive. On a 3rd-and-8 at the 47, Erickson found Kristy for a 13-yard gain. On the next snap, he connected with freshman Tanner Sanford for a 21-yard gain and the ball was at the 13-yard line. After a two-yard gain by Erickson, Burwick called his final timeout. After the break, Erickson connected with Kristy for the 11-yard score. Erickson found Sadowsky again on the conversion for the game’s final score.
Erickson completed 7-of-15 passes for 178 yards, including the trio of TD strikes. He also carried the ball 24 times for 74 yards, including the two quarterback sneaks for scores.
“He can be a gunslinger,” Burwick said of his quarterback. “He can throw and I hope this games builds his confidence.”
The loss dropped Center-Stanton to 0-2. The Wildcat head coach, Brett Eckert, was disappointed after the game, despite only 14 players on his roster. In the season opener, the Wildcats fell to Mott-Regent 36-30.
“We’ve got to be able to hold on to a lead when we get it,” Eckert said. “You have to keep pushing on, even if you are up, you play like you are down. We don’t have many guys, but they have to be ready to go.”
The workhorse for the Wildcats was Hoffman, who finished with 186 yards on 27 carries and three scores.
The Nighthawks (2-0) entertain unbeaten Divide County this week. Divide County improved to 2-0 with a 52-8 win at home against Bowman County Saturday.