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Chris Murphy, Published November 01 2013

Hawley beats Barnesville with state berth on the line

FARGO – It was the same stage, the same spotlight, the same Fargodome setting, the same teams, but it had a different feel. Until the fourth quarter. Then, it truly became Hawley versus Barnesville.

Thirty-six points were scored in the fourth quarter between the two teams, but the result was the same as last season’s section championship: Hawley raising the Minnesota Class 2A, Section 8 title and Barnesville left staring at the Fargodome turf in disbelief. The Nuggets won 42-21 to punch a ticket to the Class 2A state quarterfinals.

“We took it to them to start,” Hawley coach Peder Naatz said. “We said from the beginning we had to have a better start than we did last season.”

Last season against Barnesville in the section finals, Hawley was down 20-6 at half and needed 32 second-half points to win 38-34. Friday, the Nuggets were untouchable through the first three quarters.

A Chris Buttke 5-yard run, a Dillon Omberg 24-yard run and a 44-yard pass from Jordan Harms to Dalton Leaf all resulted in touchdowns and gave Hawley a 21-0 lead into halftime. The Nuggets entered the fourth quarter up 21-6 and on the Barnesville 13-yard line.

Then came the fireworks.

A tipped pass landed in the arms of Barnesville’s Michael Strand, who took it 90 yards for a touchdown. Strand added a 2-point conversion and the Trojans cut the lead to 21-14 with 11 minutes, 8 seconds to go. Champions, however, don’t get flustered.

“It didn’t really get to us,” said Harms, who threw the interception, but also had 133 yards passing and two touchdowns. “We’ve battled all year. We’ve gone through some tough times and we got it done tonight.”

Hawley answered with three running plays. Buttke had 62 of his 113 yards on the game on the first play and Ben Ellefson ran for the remaining 13 yards on two plays to make it 28-14 Hawley.

“There’s a lot of hype around this game because of last year, but we just played it like we’ve been playing,” Ellefson said. “The interception didn’t really get us down. We just moved on.”

So did Strand. On the next Barnesville play from scrimmage, Strand went for 67 of his 170 yards on the game to answer right back and make it a 28-21 game.

“Michael (Strand), wow, what a player,” Naatz said. “He has a great career ahead of him. I feel bad for him, but, at the same time, I’m proud of my boys.”

Hawley fumbled on the ensuing Barnesville drive, but the Trojans picked up a false start on fourth-and-1 from the Nuggets 24-yard line and could not convert on fourth-and-6. Hawley would go three-and-out on the next drive and give the Trojans the ball on their own 12 with 4:13 left. On fourth-and-11, the Trojans picked up a first down, but it was brought back for holding penalty. After an incomplete pass on fourth down, Ellefson would rumble into the end zone to make it 35-21 with 2:26 to go and took back an interception for 55 yards on the ensuing Barnesville drive to seal it.

“Too many mistakes,” Barnesville coach Bryan Strand said. “This wasn’t a 42-21 game. It was a 28-21 game and we made too many mistakes.”

Hawley will play Holdingford at 1 p.m. on Nov. 9 at Concordia College in the quarterfinals. The Nuggets don’t know much about them, but they do know champions don’t get flustered.

“Not really,” Harms said when asked what he knows about Holdingford. “We’ll figure it out.”

B 0 0 6 15–21

H 0 21 0 21–42

H-Buttke 5 run (kick failed)

H-Omberg 24 run (Harms run)

H-Leaf 44 pass from Harms (Althoff kick)

B-Strand 9 run (kick failed)

B-Strand 90 interception return (Strand run)

H-Ellefson 9 run (Althoff kick)

B-Strand 67 run (Settelmeyer kick)

H-Ellefson 7 run (Althoff kick)

H-Ellefson 55 interception return (Althoff kick)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: B, Strand 19-170, Anderson 1-7, Martz 6-4, Trowbridge 7-39, Meyer 6-29, Nosal 1-11. H, Buttke 14-113, Harms 8-23, Ellefson 9-55, Omberg 13-53.

PASSING: B, Martz 7-17-1 76 yards, Strand. H, Harms 5-10-1 133 yards.

RECEIVING: B, Ishaug 2-31, Holland 4-39, Trowbridge 1-4. H, Harms, Ellefson 1-45, Leaf 3-88.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548