Philip Scotties hold own against state’s top Class 9B football team
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The excitement was high and audience attendance even higher. The last person leaving Philip was reminded to shut off the lights, as the spectators followed their Scotties to the DakotaDome.
The Scotties earned the right to play the top-ranked and undefeated Hanson Beavers (11-0) for the Class 9A championship on Friday, November 11, in Vermillion.
It was the Scotties’ first game in the DakotaDome and their first chance to play for a state title. It was also the first time for the Hanson Beavers.
The Beavers had allowed only 52 points all season. Most of those came in a 70-24 defeat of consistently powerful Freeman. The Beavers had not allowed more than eight points in any other contest this year. Hanson racked up 566 points on the year, an average of over 51 points per game.
"We have to control the line of scrimmage and not allow Philip to get penetration," said Hanson Coach Jim Haskamp."We must play disciplined, aggressive defense," Haskamp said of trying to limit the Scottie ground and air attack.
They had to contend with a Philip offense that has had a few more tests, as far as the scoreboard goes, than Hanson this year. Philip (9-2) lost to Harding County and Wall this season.
The Scotties were unable to score first, as Hanson brought in the first touchdown of the game. Five minutes into the first quarter, Hanson was on the one-yard line. The Beavers made the run, though failed at the extra point attempt, for a starting score of 0-6. At the 2:13 mark of the first quarter, Philip had forced its way to the eight-yard line. Casey Cuny ran the ball in for a touchdown. The extra point could not be converted, and the score hung at 6-6.
The excitement and audience enthusiasm heated up the Dome to a sweltering temperature.
The second quarter teeter-tottered back to the Beavers. At the 10:41 mark, Hanson ran in the remaining one-yard for a touchdown. The successful conversion put the score at 6-14. In almost immediate retaliation, Philip’s Dana Kerns fired a pass to Nathan O’Dea for a 60 yard touchdown. The extra point attempt failed and the score was 12-14.
Seconds later still in the second quarter, Scotties' O’Dea regained the ball from the Beavers during a kickoff return. O'Dea was knocked out of bounds at the Hanson 18-yard line. After Bo Slovek gained 10-yards, a Kerns’ pass to O'Dea in the corner of the end zone ended in the hands of a Beaver’s player who advanced 10-yards.
Hanson then worked its way downfield for an eventual 83 yards. The Beavers ran in the last seven yards for a touchdown with 5:57 on the first half clock. The extra point attempt was good to put the score at 12-22.
Philip recovered another Hanson fumble. This Scottie possession was stopped when Philip ran out of downs on the Hanson 42-yard line. The rest of the half was used by the Beavers to inch forward. With eight seconds to go, Hanson ran the remaining three yards to score. The conversion was successful, and the half ended 12-30.
The Scotties forced a third Beaver turnover on the Beavers' opening drive of the second half. Philip’s determination got its team to the nine-yard line, then Lincoln Smith pulled in a Kerns pass for a nine-yard touchdown. The extra point attempt failed and the score was 18-28. Possession and position went back and forth until the 1:51 mark. Hanson, which had some success running outside during the first half, now squeezed the ball up-field between the Scottie tackles. After reaching the 27-yard line, the Beavers ran in the next touchdown. The conversion was good and the third quarter ended 18-38.
The Scotties were stopped, but in turn slowed the Beavers to only one touchdown in the last quarter. At the 6:20 mark, Hanson passed for a 24-yard touchdown, then ran in the conversion. The gun fired with a final score of 18-46.
The Scotties could not take the lead in the second quarter. Philip experienced an opposing interception, a loss of downs, and a pounding Hanson offense. As a game total, the Scotties twice had possession in Beaver territory only to lose possession. Three times Philip had a yard to go for a first down, only to be stopped. And, the stops kept Philip from staying with a Hanson team that was perhaps the most dominant of any of the teams playing at the Dome this season.
"We knew they were the real thing," Keven Morehart, the Scotties first-year head coach, said. "We tried everything in the book to stop them, but we just couldn't. They were getting four or five yards at a time."
The Hanson quarterback completed six of seven passes for 134 yards, which kept the Philip defense from stopping the run.
Kerns completed eight of 14 throws for 133 yards and two touchdowns, and he rushed 12 times for 55 yards against a Hanson team that had given up just 52 points in 11 games leading up to Friday's final.
"It was a pretty close game," said Casey Cuny, who was held to six rushing yards and one touchdown, "but we made some mistakes."
At the DakotaDome, Philip held Hanson back, but lost 18-46.
Philip 6 6 6 0 -18
Hanson 6 24 8 8 -46
Philip earned 11 first downs, compared to Hanson’s 23. The Scotties did not lose either of their two fumbles, though Hanson lost three of their four. Philip’s four penalties lost 30 yards, while Hanson’s two lost 19. Philip held possession for 22:03 and Hanson had possession for 25:57. Philip punted twice; one for 62 yards. Hanson punted once for 39 yards.
The Scottie rushing was lead with Dana Kerns’ 12 carries for 55 yards, Bo Slovek – 8 for 29, and Casey Cuny – 14 for 6.
Philip rushed 36 times to gain 116 yards, and completed eight passes out of 14 to gain 133 yards. Scottie receiving leaders were Slovek with five for 61 yards and Nathan O’Dea with two for 63 yards. Hanson rushed 51 times for 331 yards, and caught six of seven passes for 134 yards.
Philip closes the season at 9-3.