HOWELLS – What started as a heavyweight battle between two Class D2 contenders turned into a fourth-quarter shootout between Howells-Dodge and Humphrey St. Francis on Friday.
The Jaguars were leading 16-8 until the final 12 minutes, but the Flyers continued to answer goal after goal until St. Francis came out with a 32-30 victory.
“That was a great football game,” the St. Louis coach said. Francis Eric Kessler said. “They made play after play, we made play after play. It was a great game of football.
“I was proud of our kids to keep coming back, and I was proud of their kids for doing the same, but credit to coach (Howells-Dodge) (Mike) Speirs and his team. It’s a class act and, wow, what a football game.”
40 points were scored in the fourth frame, with 34 of those points coming in the final 3:40 minutes of the game.
“I was proud of how we kept coming back,” Speirs said. “We have some things to work on, but what is the effort of every kid out there, on both sides.”
Carson Wessel scored his second touchdown of the fourth quarter on a 2-yard run with 3:40 left on the clock and, after Gavin Geilenkirchen’s conversion run, St. Francis had his first lead of the game at 20-16.
“Our line created holes at times,” Wessel said. “It’s a Flyers culture to keep working and putting ourselves in the right position. If one person gives 110%, we all give 110%. We’re a family.”
It didn’t take long for Jaguar to respond.
Colton Klosen took a short pass from Landon Dobbins and outran all eight Flyer defenders as he scampered 60 yards for a touchdown with 2:12 left to give his team a 22-20 lead.
Additionally, Geilenkirchen sprinted to the goal line to stay out of the end zone on Howells-Dodge’s next play, got down at the 1-yard line and immediately ran 79 yards to put St. Francis up at 2:00 left.
Hunter Luther put the Jaguars up after a Flyers kickoff with a 25-yard punt return, which put the ball at the Howells-Dodge 27.
He ran for 9 yards, hit Klosen for 14 yards on a pass play, then ran for 13 yards to put his team up and first and 10 on St. Francis 19 with 1:22 left on the clock.
Luther hit Dylan Brichacek for 10 yards after Brichacek gained 3 yards on the run. Luther took it from there with a 5-yard burst across the goal line, and the Jaguars trailed 30-26 after Luther ran in the conversion attempt with 55.3 seconds left.
The Flyers took it to their 15 on scrimmage and Wessel and Geilenkirchen connected for 21 yards on the first down. Wessel then found Tucker Czarnick for 38 yards to the Howells-Dodge 11.
Wessel covered the distance in two runs and, with 29.6 seconds on the clock, St. Francis led for a good 32-30.
Wessel capped it with an interception with less than 10 seconds left, and the Flyers took the winning form to run out the clock.
“St. Francis will be special for a while,” Speirs said. “They are young and very talented. It was a great game between two very proud football teams.”
Early in the game, the Jaguars went on a 16-0 run in the second and third quarters on Dobbins’ 2-yard run and Luther’s blast from the same distance.
Kessler earned his 200th career victory.
“It will be nice to remember down the road,” Kessler said. “But this game was about these kids and these two great football programs. I got really old tonight but, wow, what a game.”
HSF (5-1) 0 0 6 26 — 32
HD (4-2) 0 8 8 14 — 30
HD: Landon Dobbins 2 run (Colton Klosen pass from Dobbins), 2:09.
HD: Hunter Luther 2 run (Dylan Brichacek run), 5:12.
HSF: Gavin Geilenkirchen 20 pass from Carson Wessel (run failed), 1:20.
HSF: Wessel 4 run (pass failed), 8:55.
HSF: Wessel 2 run (Geilenkirchen run), 3:40.
HD: Klosen 60 pass from Dobbins (run failed), 2:12.
HSF: Geilenkirchen 79 kickoff return (pass failed), 2:00.
HD: Luther 5 run (Luther run), 0:56.
HSF: Ethan Wieseler 6 run (run failed), 0:30.