Hawks punch ticket to 9AA Championship game for second straight year

Semifinal game is tense affair

JOSH FEINER, John Witte, Garrett Larson and Brady Tiede work to open up a hole across the goal line for Landon Ochsner.

JOSH FEINER, John Witte, Garrett Larson and Brady Tiede work to open up a hole across the goal line for Landon Ochsner.

The Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/Sanborn Central Blackhawks are going back to the Dome.
In a nail-biter of a back-and-forth battle Saturday afternoon in Springs, the Blackhawks outlasted the big boys from Fort Pierre for a 40-34 win and their second straight ticket to the 9AA Championship game.
With four minutes left in the game, the Blackhawks trailed Stanley County by two points and they knew they were running out of time to put together a scoring drive.
The Buffaloes defense wasn’t going to fold easily, so the Hawks called on their workhorse senior back Landon Ochsner to get them some first downs to move the ball downfield. But on a third and nine in Buffalo territory, the outlook seemed bleak for the Blackhawks.
Quarterback Tucker Kingsbury tucked the ball and ran around the left side but was in the process of getting tackled when a wide open John Witte came running around to his left calling for the ball. Kingsbury threw the lateral and Witte converted the first down, bringing up first and 10.
A couple of plays later, Witte ran it in for an 11-yard touchdown to take the lead. A two-point conversion by Ochsner gave the Hawks a one touchdown lead with just over one minute left in the game.
One minute was nearly enough for Stanley County’s quarterback, Colten Drageset, as he efficiently played catch with his receivers, back down towards the Blackhawks goal. A couple fourth and long conversions put Stanley County on the Hawks’ 25-yard line with six seconds left.
The Buffaloes completed yet another pass that looked to be run in for a score, but a heroic open field tackle in the red zone saved the season for the Blackhawks.
The entire game was like watching a tennis match as each team took the ball back and forth to both ends of the field.
First to strike was Stanley County on a 28-yard pass, but the Hawks answered in short order with a 13-yard run by John Witte. Stanley County’s PAT kick was good and the Hawks’ conversion failed to end the first at 7-6, Buffaloes.
The theme was set and continued through the second quarter with SC scoring on a 29-yard pass; this time the kick was good. Not to be left behind, the Hawks replied on a 25-yard Ochsner run. This time the conversion, a run by Witte, was successful.
Second quarter action was long from over, however, and since it was Stanley County’s turn, they scored on a long 75-yard pass and run. This extra-point kick failed. The Blackhawks came right back with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Tucker Kingsbury to John Witte.
The record-sized crowd was left to gnaw off their fingernails through the half as the score stood at 20-20.
The Blackhawks got the jump on scoring in the third on a one-yard run by Ochsner, but the conversion failed.
Not wishing to be left too far behind, Stanley County got right back at it and scored on a 62-yard run. This time the kick was good, to give the visitors a one-point lead.
As was the case all afternoon, this lead was very short-lived. Stanley County fans looked on in shock and dismay as Josh Feiner returned the kickoff 77 yards for a score. Again, the conversion was short.
Down by five points going into the final quarter, the Buffaloes squeezed out their final points on a six-yard run to set the scene for the drama of the final four minutes.
Ochsner had 202 rushing yards, including two touchdowns. Witte had 72 yards on the ground, two rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown. Kingsbury tacked on 40 yards on the ground, 73 yards passing and a passing TD.
Ochsner and Jacob Fouberg led the defense with 11 tackles each, while Dillon Moore had nine.
Stanley County’s notable quarterback Dragaset ran for 177 and threw for 246 yards. He had one rushing touchdown and three passing touchdowns.
The Blackhawks improved to 11-0 for their season, as they prepare during a short and hectic week for a rematch with local rivals Wolsey/Wessington, Thursday afternoon at the DakotaDome.

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