By Brad Mosher
Two teams were tied in the regional standings before the game Friday night in the Killdeer Sports Complex.
At the end of the first half, the two teams were tied on the scoreboard with a 6-6 score.
The second half was completely different.
Killdeer scored 22 unanswered points in the second half while holding the visiting Heart River Cougars scoreless for a crucial 28-6 win in the Cowboys’ homecoming.
The visiting Cougars scored first early in the first quarter to take a 6-0 lead.
The Cowboys waited until late in the first quarter to mount a drive which ended with quarterback Zach Andersen hitting Keith Dukart in the end zone with a scoring pass with 1:31 left. The catch tied the score, and stayed that way with a missed extra point attempt.
After forcing the Cougars to punt on their next possession, the Cowboys found the ball stopped on the six yard line with a holding penalty moving the ball to the three.
After starting the second quarter, the Cowboys moved backwards on a loss and two penalties placed the ball just shy of the goal line.
Andersen kept the ball and moved it out to the three yard and appeared to force a punt from inside the end zone.
The play started as a punt, but ended up being a 25-yard scramble for a first down at the 19-yard line.
That was a big play by Jamie Keller, according to head coach Andrew Cook.
“That was a huge play by Jamie Keller. He decided on his own to head out and get that first down. It was a phenomonal play. I told him it was one of the best plays I have seen in a high school football game.”
It came at a cost. “He hurt his shoulder when he did it, but it gave us life.
The drive moved all the way to the Heart River 27 before a fumble gave the ball to the Cougars with 4:16 left in the second quarter.
The Cougars had to punt, but they got the ball back several plays later when a Cougar defensive back stepped in front of Dawson Schneider and returned the ball to the Killdeer 37 yard line.
In the final seconds of the first half, the Cougars moved to the five yard line, just one yard away from a first and goal.
The Cougars tried to score from the air, only to see Killdeer’s Sandoval come down with an interception and return it to the the 20 yard line. A personal foul on the Cougars moved the ball to the 35-yard line with 13 seconds left in the half.
“Some big plays saved us. That interception in the end zone by Fernando Sandoval in the end zone was a big one.,” the coach said.
On the second Heart River possession of the second half, the defense came up with a big fourth down stop that gave the Cowboys the ball at midfield with 4:44 left.
On the second play of the possession, Andersen to a second-and-four play and ran all the way to the four.
A horsecollar penalty on Heart River moved the ball to the two and Andersen went in for the score with 3:38 left.
Andersen ran the ball in for the two-point conversion, giving the Cowboys the lead for the first time in the game.
The next score was early in the four quarter.
The Killdeer defense blocked a fourth and inches attempt in Killdeer territory in the final minutes of the third quarter
That set up a Killdeer fumble recovered at the 33 yard line.
Four plays player, the defense stopped the Cougars again on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Less than a minute later (10:33) Anderesen hit a wide-open Schneider for a 51-yard touchdown pass.
After the conversion failed, the Cowboy lead expanded to 20-6.
The next Cougar possession ended with Gabe Magee intercepting a pass. The Cowboys picked up 15 more yards on a Cougar penalty.
That helped to set up Tomjack’s two-yard touchdown with 7:10 left in the game. The coversion was good, with Andersen hitting Schneider for a 28-6 lead which held for the rest of the game.
“We are getting to be a better and better team. It seems sometimes the score doesn’t show that but this team… we are seeing it in practice,” the coach said. “It was a great game.”
The Cowboys visit unbeaten Shiloh Christian Sept. 27.
SCORING BY QUARTERS
HEART RIVER 6 0 0 0 – 6
KILLDEER 6 0 6 14 – 28