Hornets hang on to edge Bobcats, 24-22

by Ben Murphy
Sports Writer

Friday nights’ Jack Pine Conference football match-up between Harrison and Houghton Lake had a distinct playoff feel to it. The visiting Hornets made just enough plays late in the contest to come up with the win however, giving them their fifth win of the season and sits just one away from clinching a playoff berth.
“It was a huge win for us,” head coach Jamie Lipovsky said. “We are still battling to stay in the upper half of the conference and fighting for a playoff berth.

Houghton Lake is a great team that will probably make the playoffs. They have great athletes and play very physical, so for us to come out with a victory in Houghton Lake was huge.”

Harrison’s Hugh Brand shrugs off a Bobcat during a close match with Houghton Lake Friday. After a hard fought game, the Hornets claimed a win 24-22. Photo by InSung Oaks Lee.

Harrison’s Hugh Brand shrugs off a Bobcat during a close match with Houghton Lake Friday. After a hard fought game, the Hornets claimed a win 24-22.
Photo by InSung Oaks Lee.

Harrison led the game 24-14 late in the fourth quarter, but a Bobcat touchdown and two point conversion closed that margin to just 24-22 with about three minutes left to play.

Gabe Shellito made a recovery on the ensuing onside kick and the Hornets, got a big fourth-and-three conversion on the Bobcat 42-yard line, getting a five yard run from Hugh Brand.

“We knew we had to pick up the first down to secure the win and Houghton Lake did everything they could to stop us,” Lipovsky said. “We got to fourth and three and we ran one of our base plays and Brand went five yards and then it was just a matter of taking a knee three times.”

Harrison also opened the scoring in the game, as it got a first quarter touchdown on a 30-yard run by Tyler Head. The Hornets cashed in on all three of their two point conversions, which turned out to be the difference in the game. The two pointer after the first score came on a strong run by Brand for an early 8-0 lead.
The Bobcats answered and pulled within 8-6 on a three yard touchdown run late in the opening quarter, though Harrison put its lead to double digits with a second quarter touchdown, getting Brand to find the endzone from three yards out. Deonate Baldreas added the two pointer to make the lead 16-6.

With time running out in the first half, the Bobcats marched down the field, reaching inside the Hornet 10-yard line, before being stopped and sending the game into the locker room with the 16-6 score.

“Obviously the onside recovery and the first down at the end were big moments in the game, but stopping them just before the half was also huge,” Lipovsky said.
In the third quarter, the Bobcats scored on a six yard run and tacked on two points to pull within 16-14, though Brand added his second touchdown of the night before the period was over. Zach Taylor cashed in on the ensuing two pointer, making it a 24-14 lead after four.

“We got some excellent play from guys that have been flying under the radar so to speak,” Lipovsky said. “Head had a great game running the ball. Michael Hathaway and Zack Davis played excellent on the offensive line and Shellito came in early in the game and did a great job at his position (quarterback). Of course Brand did what he has done all year.”

In all, Brand ran 25 times for 130 yards and two touchdowns, Baldreas ran 11 times for 94 yards, Taylor had 13 rushes for 69 yards and Head had eight rushes for three yards and one touchdown.

Colin Dunn led the defense with eight tackles, Ryan Carlstrom and Kalub Pepper had six tackles apiece, Ryley Bennett added five and taking down four was Head. Bennett and Austin Musser had one sack each.

Harrison (5-2 overall, 4-1 JPC) takes on unbeaten Beaverton (7-0, 5-0) tonight (Friday) at home. The Beavers are undefeated at this point in the season for the first time since 1969 and have outscored their opponents 297-65 this year, including last week’s 69-20 victory over Farwell.

“Beaverton is very skilled and are on quite a roll,” Lipovsky said. “They believe they can win and with their talent, they are very dangerous. They move very well defensively and they have a punishing fullback. They are well coached and I expect it to be a dog fight like it always is.”

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