Mott-Regent Wildfire slip past Nighthawks

The Wildfire are known for their high-powered offense. And Friday night, that explosiveness helped Mott-Regent to a 24-20 victory.

The ball sails just out of the grasp of 6′ 3″ Nighthawk’s Stephen Kristy as Wildfire’s Noah Blickensderfer and Carter Honeyman attempt to defend him. – Courtesy photo

Eddie Hibbs III

Pioneer Publisher & Editor

 Posted September 21, 2012

The Wildfire are known for their high-powered offense. And Friday night, that explosiveness helped Mott-Regent to a 24-20 victory.

With 3:31 remaining in the game, junior running back Christian Hughes connected with senior tight end Stephen Kristy on a 32-yard touchdown strike. Hughes ran the conversion, giving the Nighthawks their first lead in the game, 20-18.

That lead was short-lived as Wildlife senior running back Jacob Greff returned the ensuing kickoff 76 yards for the game-winning touchdown.

“We knew it was going to be a tough one and they just about got us,” said Mott-Regent head coach Ron Benson.

In other 9-man action Friday night, Central McLean rolled Bowman County 50-6, Divide County crushed Beach 59-22, Shiloh Christian whipped Parshall-White Shield 48-22 and Trenton-Trinity Christian downed Center-Stanton 36-20.

The Nighthawks and Wildfire entered last week’s contest with identical 2-2 records. Both clubs also started the season 2-0, but dropped two straight after that.

“We knew that if we lost, we were probably not going to the playoffs,” Benson added. “We still need to run the table.”

Both teams struggled offensively early last week. On Mott-Regent’s first possession, the Wildfire fumbled it away on the second snap. Though they didn’t score any points, the Wildfire looked much better on their second possession. Greff scampered 27 yards on the first snap to move the ball to midfield. After a five-yard penalty on Mott-Regent, senior quarterback Taylor Zentner found junior tight end Tyler Zentner open in the middle – good for a 37-yard gain and moving the ball to the 17-yard line. Two running plays moved the ball four yards closer, but two incomplete passes turned the ball over on downs.

The Nighthawks, though, turned the ball over on the very next play with a fumble, giving the pigskin back to the Wildfire just 11 yards from the goal line. Three snaps later, Taylor Zentner scored on a 9-yard keeper with 4:06 remaining in the first.

Both teams traded a pair of possessions. A poor punt by the Wildfire put the Nighthawks in their best field position of the night, starting at the Wildfire 30. Junior Kye Erickson covered that in one play with 9:51 remaining in the half and the game was tied at six. Three snaps later, Greff scored his second touchdown with a 58-yard jaunt to return the lead to the Wildfire.

After picking off an interception, Taylor Zentner found a new target with an 11-yard strike to junior tight end Benjamin Friedt with 4:27 left in the half and the Wildfire led 18-6.

Neither team scored again until late in the third quarter when Burwick went deep into his playbook. Trailing by 12 and facing a fourth-and-nine at the Wildfire 16, Burwick called for a timeout. The play worked to perfection as Hughes found Kristy for the first of their two touchdown connections with 8.9 seconds left in the third. The run failed and the Nighthawks had trimmed the lead to 18-12.

The Nighthawk defense didn’t stay on the field long, and when the special teams partially blocked the punt, Hettinger-Scranton regained possession just 17 yards from the goal line. This time, the Wildfire defense rose to the occasion, and the Nighthawks turned the ball over on downs at the 35 (two running plays netting a minus three yards and an offensive pass interference call).

Benson took his own gamble on the Wildfire’s next possession. Facing a fourth-and-one at their own 44-yard line, the Wildfire went for it and made it – netting the one yard necessary. However, the drive stalled three plays later and the Wildfire were forced to punt.

The Nighthawks gained possession at their own 23. Freshman signal caller Hayden Sadowsky found Kristy for a 16-yard gain and the Nighthawks marched the ball down the field, capped by the second Hughes to Kristy pass play, giving Hettinger-Scranton its first lead in the game.

“I was just sick,” Benson said, “but you have to remember they are just kids.”

Any illness felt on the Mott-Regent sideline was short lived (or transferred to the home side of the field) as Greff scored his second touchdown of the game on the ensuing kickoff, racing up the visiting side of the field for the game-winner and spoiling the Nighthawks’ homecoming.

Greff finished the contest with 142 yards on 21 carries. Taylor Zentner completed 7-of-11 passes for 79 yards. Erickson led the Hettinger-Scranton ground game with 58 yards on 12 carries while Hughes added 17 yards on four carries. Kristy led the Nighthawks with three receptions for 85 yards, including the two touchdowns.

Both teams expect touch challenges this week. Mott-Regent (3-2) entertains unbeaten Shiloh Christian (5-0) this week while Hettinger-Scranton (2-3) travels to Beach (3-2).

In other regional action this week, Bowman County (0-5) travels to Trenton-Trinity Christian (1-4), Center-Stanton (0-5) visits Central McLean (4-1) and Divide County (5-0) travels to Parshall-White Shield (2-3).


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