Blue Hawk playoff run ends in Scobey
Falls boys fight hard but fall to Spartans
November 12, 2020
It was a tough pill the Blue Hawks were forced to swallow, but their wonderful football season ended in painful fashion on the high plains of northern Montana Saturday.
The Scobey Spartans built a big lead early and then held off a determined rally by the visiting Hawks 40-24 and will now advance into the semifinals of the Montana 8-Man playoffs.
Actually a cooperative formed between Scobey and Opheim in northeast Montana, the Spartans will host the Shelby Coyotes, while Fort Benton will entertain Flint Creek in the other 8-Man semifinal at times to be determined this week.
Unbeaten in the regular season and ranked No. 3 in the latest poll of Montana 8-Man teams, the Hawks finish the 2020 campaign with a 9-1 record.
The Hawks couldn't seem to catch a break early in the game with Scobey Saturday, and the first quarter may have ended up costing them the game in retrospect.
"We got off to a slow start but the kids wouldn't let it go," Koskela said. "I am proud of the way we battled back all game long really. They wanted it and didn't want to give it up without fighting for it."
And fight their way back they did, time and time again, all Montana afternoon.
Scobey struck first on a one-yard touchdown run with 5:49 left in the first quarter and added the two-point conversion to make the score 8-0. On the Hawks' next drive, the Coyotes forced a Thompson Falls fumble and soon scored again, with another conversion tacked on, to make it 16-0 Scobey.
Although the Hawks could have let the game get away from them at that point, instead they answered the call and came back strong.
Taking the ensuing kickoff return around right end, senior Kade Pardee got behind a wall of blockers and scooted 76 yards down the sideline for a touchdown and, with the two-point conversion successful, made the score 16-8.
After Scobey reached paydirt again to go up 24-8, the Hawks answered again on a four-yard touchdown run by Roman Sparks and another conversion for two points to draw within eight at 24-16, and the first half ended that way.
The Hawks appeared to take control of the game to open the third quarter taking the ball on their own 19-yard line and marching 61 yards on a multi-play drive which ended with Pardee scoring a touchdown on a two-yard run. After the conversion was good, the game was tied at 24-24 with 4:54 left in the third period.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, a wild and woolly fourth quarter resulted in a rash of penalties, most of which were determined to be against Thompson Falls, and Scobey managed to punch in for two more touchdowns to pull out the hotly contested win.
The officials, who were from the northeastern Montana area due to COVID-19 restrictions in place this season, appeared to lose control of the game a few times, especially in the fourth quarter when the game was slipping away from Thompson Falls.
Notably, in the confusion after Scobey's final touchdown, the refs were bizarrely setting up Scobey to kick off from the Thompson Falls 10-yard line, after enforcing penalties from the previous play.
Although it was a strange ending to a very physical confrontation, the Hawks left it all out there on the field in their attempt to win.
"Our guys played hard and so did theirs," Koskela said. "I am really proud of our group of seniors, they led us to another great season. I just wish we could have extended it another week or two."
Sparks and Pardee, as they did all season long, keyed the Blue Hawk offense in Scobey. Sharing the snaps at quarterback, also as they have all season, Sparks was good for 75 yards rushing and 21 yards passing while Pardee picked up 65 yards on the ground and scored on the scintillating kickoff return in the first half.
Elijah Ratliff added 22 yards rushing and Hayden Hanks two, Derek Andersen caught a pass for 16 yards and Trae Thilmony two for five yards.
On the defensive side, Derek Andersen pulled down 10 unassisted tackles and 15 altogether, Thilmony had seven solo stops and 17 total, and Pardee five unassisted and 14 total.
Lucas Andersen added nine tackles, Ratliff six, Dane Chojnacky and Erik Strom five apiece, Sparks four, Cody Burk three and Lance Palmer one.
Derek Andersen and Ratliff also had interceptions against Scobey.