WILLISTON-ELKO - 6, H-K-T - 0
NEESES — After taking a sack with less than 20 seconds to play, Khaliq Anthony popped up urging his offensive line to get set.
As they did, the Trojans waited for the ball to be spotted as time ticked away. The hope to spike the ball to savr precious time turned into disappointment as the clock elapses to zero amd Williston-Elko celebrated a
6-0 win on the Trojans field.
The Trojans (5-2, 2-1) opened play with a 32-yard pass from Anthony to Mike Edwards to take momentum early on. Two plays later, Jarius Jenkins broke off a run for 18 yards putting H-K-T on the W-E 26-yard line. However, the Blue Devils (6-2, 4-0) defense stiffened up and forced the Trojans to turn the ball over on downs.
Like the Trojans, the Blue Devils drove down the field utilizing their rushing attack. Williston-Elko made it down to the H-K-T 19-yard line before they suffered the same fate as their opponents turning the ball over on downs.
The two teams recorded lengthy drives throughout the night against one another, but the defenses each stood tall keeping points off the board through halftime.
“We're getting better on defense,” W-E head coach Dwayne Garrick said. “I think we're growing. I think the kids are understanding a little more about what we're doing. So, as the year's gone along, we've definitely got better on defense.”
With Williston-Elko getting the ball first in the second half, Garrick went back to employing his rushing attack featuring Antonio Coleman and Marcell Wright to march down the field. The Trojans struggled to hold the Blue Devils to less than five yards a carry in the opening possession of the second half, but they found the break they were looking for with just over nine minutes left in the third. With a ball at the H-K-T 33-yard line, the snap to Dalton Mundy was fumbled. After rolling to the Trojans 47-yard line, H-K-T recovered the fumble giving them two of their three takeaways on the night and once again snatching momentum away from Williston-Elko.
However, the Trojans weren't able to hold on to that momentum long as Anthony fumbled the ball at his 47-yard line. But again, the Blue Devils could not capitalize on the miscue and punted the ball away after a 6-play drive stalled on H-K-T's side of the field.
With both teams grinding it out and fatigue starting to show on both side, it was Williston-Elko that made the first true attempt to put points on the board, but Taylor Hearn's 31-yard field goal attempt fell short as Darius Hammonds got a hand up to block the field goal keeping the stalemate alive.
“Darius Hammonds is a football player,” Holland said. “No doubt about it. We try to get him the ball as much as we can offensively. He's a weapon, but tonight, he made plays on defense, too. That's a heart play right there. He just wanted pretty badly. So, he went and got it. That was huge.”
However, W-E went right back to work on their next possession starting from their own 20-yard line with 5:28 to go. Following a false start penalty on third-and-5 from their 27-yard line. Mundy hooked up with Faheem Richburg for the second time in the series. But this time, the senior wide receiver took the pass 53 yards for the only score of the night with 3:12 left in the game.
“They were in man coverage all night,” Garrick said. “They lined up on us in man, and we ran a little crossing route to get the guy open in the middle of the field. That was a big plus.”
The Trojans were in a hole and time was against them. They had to do something, but the Blue Devils defense thwarted all efforts on their ensuing drive to seeming seal the victory. But that wasn't the case. After running three plays and forcing H-K-T to burn their final two timeouts of the game, another costly Mundy fumble gave the Trojans life.
But Anothony found himself under pressure on the first play of the Trojans' final drive getting just one yard with less than a minute. Anthony was, then, penalized for intentional ground for spiking the ball in the shotgun formation. Anthony would redeem himself by connecting with Edwards on an 86-yard pass before Edwards was pushed out of bounds at the 10-yard line.
“We run that package a lot and, you know, the guy that ended up catching it usually isn't open,' Holland explained, “but he was open on that play. Mike played the entire game on both side. He ran it as hard as he could run it. A kid got him from behind, but I'm going to have to look at the film to figure out why we couldn't get the ball spotted and get it spiked.”
Following an offsides penalty, the Blue Devils used a jailbreak blitz to take down Anthony at the for an 11-yard sack and the clock ran down. With the game essentially hanging in the balance, the Trojans tried to reset so they could stop the clock with a spike, but they were too late and the Devils began their celebration.
For Williston-Elko, the win puts them atop Region 4-A with two region contests left. As for H-K-T, the loss proved to be a bitter pill to swallow as they find themselves in second place in region play. Still, Holland believes his team will be ready to put this game behind them come Monday.
“We talk to them all the time about being men,” Holland said, “and men get up and go to work every day. Monday morning, they'll get up. They'll come to school. They'll take care of their academics from 8 to 3. We'll be on the field at 3:30 and we'll get back to work because that's what men do.”