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Blue Hawks rebound, play Wolves tough


September 6, 2018

John Hamilton

TACKLE-BREAKING Nate Wilhite busted loose for 181 yards rushing in Friday's game with Cut Bank.

Blue Hawk football coach Jared Koskela thought there was plenty of room for improvement, and his boys went out and proved him right versus Cut Bank Friday night at Previs Field.

Showing what he called "a ton of improvement" from what they showed in Townsend the week before, the Hawks lost 57-32 to the Wolves, but fought the visitors from the Northern B division pretty much straight-up all Sanders County night long. Koskela felt the Hawks had a lot to prove to others and themselves after losing 45-0 to the Bulldogs in Townsend Aug. 24.

"Our program has a history of struggling with our first game of the season and last week was no different," Koskela said. "But I am happy with our guys, proud of the way they played against Cut Bank.

"In fact, I feel we could have won that game – we outgained them in total yards like 400 to 280," he added. "If we eliminate the mistakes we made, I really think we would have won."

The Hawks looked like they were ready to win early on. After Nate Wilhite recovered a Cut Bank fumble on the opening kickoff at the Wolves' 18-yard line, quarterback Trey Fisher steamed in from 17 yards out several plays later for the game's first touchdown to give Thompson Falls a 6-0 lead.

After Cut Bank answered with a touchdown drive of their own on the next series, Wilhite blasted through the Wolves' defense from his running back position for a 64-yard run to put the Hawks in scoring position again.

Fisher completed that drive with a five-yard touchdown run and then passed for the two-point conversion to Kade Pardee to put the Hawks back ahead 14-6.

Cut Bank quarterback JR Seewald, who would eventually be kicked out of the game for unsportsmanlike conduct in the second half, completed a seven-yard scoring pass to Colten Barsness for the touchdown and the Wolves then kicked the extra point through to make it 14-13 Hawks. Barsness then intercepted a pass and streaked 50 yards for the touchdown right before the half to send the teams into the locker room with Cut Bank leading 19-14.

Having one of the games of his life, Barsness opened scoring in the second half by picking up a fumble and rumbling 35 yards for another touchdown to put the Wolves ahead 25-14. The Hawks kept fighting back after that but never could regain the lead.

Fisher scored on runs of two and three yards in the second half to keep Thompson Falls close. An 82-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Cut Bank following Fisher's second TD of the half pretty much put the game away for the Wolves.

Fisher completed a 22-yard touchdown pass to Roman Sparks in the fourth quarter to complete scoring for the Hawks.

Several Hawks turned in big numbers on offense. Wilhite ran for 181 yards gained on 24 carries, Fisher completed 13 of 27 passes for 133 yards and rushed 14 times for another 66 yards and four touchdowns, Brandon Zimmerman caught two passes for 14 yards and added 21 yards rushing, Pardee caught seven passes for 86 yards and Sparks finished with three catches for 29 yards.

John Hamilton

HAWK QUARTERBACK Trey Fisher completed this pass for a 2-point conversion to Kade Pardee in first half action against Cut Bank.

On the defensive side of things, Zimmerman had eight unassisted tackles and 14 total, Fisher had six solo stops and 11 all told, Wilhite made five tackles, including two quarterback

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sacks, and Dane Chojnacky added two more quarterback sacks. Sparks had three unassisted tackles and four total for the night.

The 0-2 Hawks open Western B league play this Friday at Previs Field, hosting the two-time defending State B champion Eureka Lions. Eureka opened the season two weeks ago with a win over Cut Bank and improved to 2-0 with a victory over Conrad last week.

The powerful Lions have not lost a game since early on in the 2016 season.

"Every game is an opportunity, anything can happen in football," Koskela said. "Eureka is still a very, very good team but we will play as hard as we can and see what that gets us."


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