HOWELLS — Howells-Dodge outlasted Wakefield 30-28 in a battle of Class D1 juggernauts in Howells with a defensive stand at the end of the game and a stubborn offensive showing Friday night.
Like two heavyweight fighters, the teams stood toe-to-toe all night trading punches, but in the end, it was the Jaguars who got off the canvass and held the Trojans on an extra-point with 29.8 seconds left in the third to hang on for the victory.
“That was just a great high school football game,” said long-time Howells-Dodge coach Mike Speirs. “They are a great, great team and we held on to make the final play — a couple of times.”
Although the Jaguars didn’t score in the fourth quarter, there was plenty of action in frame as Wakefield posted the final score in the game get within the two-point margin.
“I am so proud of our kids,” said Wakefield coach Mike Hassler. “We gave a great football team all they could handle all night.”
The final score for the Trojans was set up by an incredible completion from Wakefield quarterback Blake Brown to his receiver, Nick Arenas.
Brown spotted Arenas in the H-D secondary across the middle.
The ball arrived just as a Jaguar
defender smacked Arenas jarring the ball into the air.
As Arenas and the defender fell to the ground, Arenas somehow grabbed the ball as he fell for a 10-yard gain to the one yard line on the fourth down play.
Justin Erb punched it across from there for his second touchdown of the night from the wildcat formation.
The Trojans lined up in the same formation on the extra-point attempt, but Jaguar defense swarmed Erb behind the line to cling to the two-point advantage with just under six minutes to go in the contest.
“We knew we couldn’t let them get that extra-point,” Speirs said. “That ended up being the play of the game.”
Speirs went on to say they knew the game was far from over.
“I told our guys they would come back at us,” he said. “And they did.”
The Wakefield defense forced a punt on Howells-Dodge’s next possession and its offense took the field with a first-and-10 at the Trojan 20.
Brown had Gabe Peitz running wide open behind the Jaguar defense on second down, but just missed him for the go ahead touchdown.
The Howells-Dodge defense held Erb to a yard on third down and a Brown pass to Peitz on fourth down came up a yard short as the Trojans turned the ball over on downs.
“That’s the way a game like this goes,” Hassler said. “We were right there but they made a couple of key plays at the end to win the game.”
Early in the contest, the Jaguars struck first with a Levi Belina three-yard blast with 8:26 left in the opening quarter.
“I just followed my blockers, lowered my head and kept running,” Belina said. “Our line did a great job.”
Erb answered with his first score of the night around four minutes later and the team were tied 8-8.
Back-to-back runs of 33 and 53 yards by Luke Rocheford seemingly put the Jaguars in command at 22-8 with just over five minutes left in the half, but Brown responded, barreling in from the four then ran in the two-point try to make it 22-16 at the intermission.
Rocheford opened the second half with another long run — this on from 59 yards out with only 53 seconds gone in the period.
“It was just a great, great game,” Speirs said. “It’s one of the games these kids will remember for years — both teams.”
W 8 8 6 6 — 28
H-D 8 14 8 0 — 30
H-D: Levi Belina 3 run, Darrin Pokorny run, 8:26.
W: Justin Erb 1 run, Erb run, 4:47.
H-D: Luke Rocheford 33 run, run failed, 7:46.
H-D: Rocheford 53 run, Belina run, 5:19.
W: Blake Brown 4 run, Brown run, 2:51.
H-D: Rocheford 59 run, Belina run, 11:07.
W: Brown 4 run, run failed, 29.8.
W: Erb 2 run, run failed, 5:54.