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Kevin Schnepf, Published November 02 2012

Hawley beats Barnesville 38-34 for section football championship

FARGO – In a high school football game highly anticipated all fall, Hawley came out on top with a 38-34 down-to-the-wire win over Barnesville on Friday night in the Fargodome.

The No. 5-ranked Nuggets, trailing 20-6 at halftime, erupted for 32 second-half points to capture the Minnesota Class 2A, Section 8 championship.

“This was an unbelievable football game,” said Hawley head coach Peder Naatz, whose 11-0 Nuggets will play No. 2-ranked Moose Lake-Willow River at 8 p.m. next Friday in the state quarterfinals at St. Cloud State.

What was unbelievable was the number of big plays Hawley produced in the second half. The big reason was sophomore Ben Ellefson, a tight end who was inserted as a shotgun quarterback after halftime.

On the first play of the second half, Ellefson took the snap and ran 60 yards for a touchdown. The race to the finish was on in the wild second half.

“How can you have an athlete like this and not have the ball in his hands,” Naatz said of Ellefson. “That was our thinking there.”

It certainly sparked the Nuggets offense.

On their next drive, they marched 86 yards in four plays to make it 20-18.

With Hawley trailing 26-18, Ellefson lofted a pass to the usual quarterback, Jordan Harms.

“I thought I underthrew it,” Ellefson said.

Harms made a leaping catch near midfield over two Barnesville defenders and raced 90 yards for a touchdown to help Hawley tie the score 26-26.

Trailing 34-32, Hawley took its first lead of the game with 5:38 remaining when Ellefson scored on a fourth-down, 1-yard sneak. The Nuggets led 38-34.

“I thought it was the type of game in which the last team with the ball would win it,” said Barnesville head coach Bryan Strand.

Almost. Barnesville marched from its own 37 to the Hawley 19. With the clock ticking down to under 20 seconds, Stuart Brandt was stopped short by inches of a first down on his fourth-and-4 run.

“That’s the breaks of the game,” said Strand, whose No. 3-ranked team ends its season with a 10-1 record.

“That was a big stop,” Ellefson said.

And there were plenty of big-time players. Barnesville’s Michael Strand rushed for 183 yards and four touchdowns and also threw a 64-yard touchdown pass.

Hawley’s Alex Ames rushed for 183 yards and two touchdowns. But his biggest run may have been his 33-yard pickup that helped set up Hawley’s winning touchdown.

“Like I said before, this was an unbelievable football game,” Naatz said. “And that was a great football team that we just beat.”

B 0 20 14 0–34

H 0 6 20 12–38

B-Strand 18 run (kick blocked)

B-Strand 23 run (Strand run)

H-Ames 2 run (kick failed)

B-Goedtke 64 pass from Strand (run failed)

H-Ellefson 60 run (run failed)

H-Ames 51 run (run failed)

B-Strand 2 run (run failed)

H-Harms 90 pass from Ellefson (Ellefson run)

B-Strand 21 run (Strand run)

H-Buttke 1 run (run failed)

H-Ellefson 1 run (run failed)


RUSHING: Barnesville, Strand 32-183, Brandt 7-27, A. Martz 5-15. Hawley, Ames 15-183, Ellefson 4-62, Buttke 8-23, Harms 4-15.

PASSING: Barnesville, K. Martz 6-8-0, 83 yards, Strand 1-1-0, 20. Hawley, Harms 4-8-0, 126 yards, Ellefson 1-1-0, 90.

RECEIVING: Barnesville, Goedtke 2-75, Strand 2-30, A. Martz 3-42. Hawley, Harms 1-90, Johnson 2-36, Buttke 1-36, Ellefson 1-54.

Readers can reach Forum Sports Editor Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549

Schnepf’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com