With seven ticks remaining in the first half of Friday’s home opener against unbeaten Des Lacs-Burlington and the score 12-12, Hoyt Zander had a feeling a big play was coming.
The speedy senior wideout proved to be a prophet when he got behind the Lakers’ secondary and hauled in a perfectly thrown rainbow bomb from quarterback Alex Sadowsky that resulted in a 48-yard gain that sparked the Cowboys to a hard-fought 25-12 victory over the Lakers.
The play was good for 48 yards, which put the ball on the Lakers’ one-yard line. Two plays later with two seconds left in the first half, Dillan Jepson scored the go-ahead touchdown after the Cowboys’ front line blasted a hole big enough to drive a Mack truck through.
“That was a huge play,” beamed Killdeer head coach Lou Dobitz said.
Indeed. It was play that gave the Cowboys a jolt of excitement and the Lakers a dagger of disappointment.
“Hoyt told me that his guy was slower and that he could beat him,” Sadowsky said, of a conversation the two had in the huddle.
After taking the snap, Sadowsky rolled to his left as Zander sprinted down the side line. Moments later, with some pressure in his face, Sadowsky unleashed a high-arcing pass and hoped his receiver would be able to run under it.
“When I threw it, I thought I left it short,” Sadowsky said, with a sheepish grin.
Zander, who was still a little hobbled from a twisted knee he suffered two weeks ago against Dickinson Trinity, looked over his shoulder and found the ball and it looked like a big old watermelon.
“I was thinking, I have to catch it. I have to catch it,” Zander said with a smile, who had two receptions in the game for 82 yards. “I didn’t even see the defender.”
No problem, even with a defender in his face.
Although that play provided a spark, it was by no means the only one that fanned the Cowboys’ fury. They came up with big play after big play to erase any questions that may have lingered from the season-opening loss to Dickinson Trinity.
“It was a knock-down, drag-out type of football game. The kids answered the bell tonight,” Dobitz said.
The Cowboys recorded 18 first downs and amassed nearly 400 yards in total offense, which was much more than they gained against Trinity. Killdeer Lakers. ran for 249 yards against the
Defensively, Killdeer held the high-flying Lakers to 223 yards in total offense, including a meager 59 yards on 27 carries. Most of the Lakers’ offense came in the first half, but were held to four first downs The Lakers had a dozen first downs, but were held to 59 yards in total offense in the second half.
Of course, having Jepson back in the lineup was a big factor. The senior running back, who missed the season opener because of an ankle injury, powered the running game with 153 yards on 23 carries, including his one-yard score right before the half.
Sadowsky accounted for nearly 200 yards in total offense, rushing for 45 yards on eight carries and completing 8 of 14 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns.
Garrett LeMieux was on the receiving end of those touchdown passes, one for 12 yards and the other on a one-yard strike. He had four receptions in the game for 29 yards.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair with each team trading touchdowns on their first two possessions.
Riley Reiss starting things for Killdeer with a 6-yard touchdown run on the first possession of the game that culminated a 12-play, 73-yard drive for the Cowboys. Although they Cowboys failed on the two-point conversion failed, Killdeer held a 6-0 lead at the 6:54 mark.
The lead lasted just over four minutes because the Lakers countered with a long drive of their own, marching 69 yards on 10 plays before Dylan Schestler scored on a one-yard run. The kick for the extra point was short, which left the score knotted at 6-6.
Killdeer responded with another scoring drive, this time from 47 yards after Jepson returned the kickoff 25 yards. He added a 15- yard run and Sadowsky rambled 14 yards on another that helped set up the 12-yard score to LeMieux with 10:06 mark of the half. The two-point conversion, again failed.
It didn’t take the Lakers long to tie the score again. Schestler hooked up with Joshua Knutson on a 74-yard scoring strike at the 8:56 mark. Their extra point attempt was wide right and the score was 12-12.
The Cowboys set up the long pass play after forcing the Lakers to punt. They took possession on their own 34 with less than two minutes to play. A completions and two Sadowsky runs set up the big play, followed by Jepson’s score.
The spark showed in the second half when the Cowboys forced a three-and-out and took possession after a short punt on their 38.
Methodically, the Cowboys marched 62 yards, before Sadowsky hit LeMieux in the end zone for the second time. During the drive, Killdeer converted two fourth-down plays. Jepson made the kick for the extra point that stretched the lead to 25-12.
The Lakers threatened only one time in the second half, driving to the Killdeer 16 with about two minutes to play in the third quarter after three consecutive big plays.
But the Cowboys came up with three consecutive tackles for loss before Cole Dukart broke up a desperation pass play.
“These kids were excited and ready to go,” Dobitz said. “We showed the identity of this year’s group of guys.”