Night Hawks end Wildfire season

The football season ended for Mott/Regent when the Wildfire fell to the Hettinger/Scranton Night Hawks in the quarterfinals of the 9-man state football tournament on Halloween afternoon.

Senior quarterback Brady Wegh get sacked by a group of Hettinger/Scranton Night Hawks. The Night Hawks defeated the Wildfire 62-36 to advance to the semifinals against North Prairie. (Photo by Cole Benz/The Herald)
Senior quarterback Brady Wegh get sacked by a group of Hettinger/Scranton Night Hawks. The Night Hawks defeated the Wildfire 62-36 to advance to the semifinals against North Prairie. (Photo by Cole Benz/The Herald)

By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor | cbenz@countrymedia.net

The football season ended for Mott/Regent when the Wildfire fell to the Hettinger/Scranton Night Hawks in the quarterfinals of the 9-man state football tournament on Halloween afternoon. The Region 5 teams would trade touchdowns until midway through the second quarter, when the Night Hawks began to pull away, and finished with a 62-36 victory.

The Wildfire, who suffered through some major injuries all season, lost starting running back Josh Wallace to an ankle injury early in the game. Wallace rushed only once for seven yards.

Turnovers hurt Mott-Regent as quarterback Brady Wegh was picked off three times, with Hettinger/Scranton’s Tanner Sanford returning two of them for touchdowns.

Wegh did all he could to make up for the turnovers, accounting for three scores. He ran for two and caught a pass from Hunter Crist for a third. Weigh finished the game with 148 rushing yards and 19 passing yards.

Head Coach Ron Benson said the front line of Hettinger/Scranton was very tough, and played more physical, which proved to be a big difference maker on both sides of the ball. Benson said they had a hard time finding a solution for the quick-cutting running back Isaiah Kludt. Premium blocking set Kludt up for a 181-yard rushing day with two scores. Kludt ran for scores of 61 and 26 yards, the latter coming on a play in which he shed seven or eight tackles before breaking free and stepping into the endzone.

Benson said they pretty much played to their game plan, and he gave credit to the Night Hawks for capitalizing on their miscues.

“We gave them a couple of interceptions, and a kickoff return for a touchdown, in a game like this you’re not going to beat anybody playing like that,” Benson said. “They (Hettinger/Scranton) used their weapons and they just stuck it down our throat.”

The Wildfire were down 20-8 when the first quarter ended. But two rushing touchdowns by Wegh put them right back into the contest, but it was short lived.

The Night Hawks would score five unanswered touchdowns stretching from midway through the second quarter into the fourth.

The Wildfire would score two more times late in that final quarter—a touchdown pass by Crist on a flee-flicker type play to Wegh for 75 yards, and a rushing score by Crist with six seconds left in the game—but by then the contest was too far out of reach.

With the victory Hettinger/Scranton will face the undefeated North Prairie Cougars in Hettinger for a chance to advance to the championship game in Fargo.

This was Benson’s 30th year as head coach, and his future is a little undecided. He has already decided on retiring from teaching after this school year, but does not yet know what his coaching status will be.

He had kind words for his team and fellow coaches following the end of the season:

“I just love them to death, and I really enjoyed the year and the coaching staff has been great. It’s a good group. It’s been a lot of fun. I’m thankful I’ve been able to do this all these years.”

Game stats:

(RUSHING) MR—Wegh 9-148, Crist 13-120, Wallace 1-7. HS—I. Kludt 16-181, Brandon Pierce 23-175, Tanner Sanford 12-171, Hudson Pierce 3-8, Logan Lachowitzer 3-4, Jaxon Mellmer 1-(-1)

(PASSING) MR—Wegh 7-19-3 60, Crist 1-1-0 75. HS—None.

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