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Hawks soar over the Coyotes 57-8

HAY SPRINGS, Neb. - The Potter-Dix Coyotes (1-5) made the roughly two and a half drive north Friday night to take on the Hay Springs Hawks (5-1). Last season in Potter, the Hawks cruised to an 80-6 victory while piling up 433 yards of offense, 370 on the ground, to the Coyotes’ total of 81.

Hay Springs junior running back, Trent Reed, ran for 222 yards last season against Potter-Dix on his was to an 1,800 yard sophomore campaign and entered Friday night’s meeting 34 yards away from that mark. The Coyotes had struggled all season in stopping the run allowing their opponents 335 rushing yards per game and 32 total touchdowns. Potter-Dix head coach Dale Frerichs said the key to pulling the big upset on the road was going to be limiting the explosive plays of the Hawks, and creating some of their own on offense.

With it being senior night, the Hawks trotted out different starters than their normal rotation with Reed and starting quarterback Baiden Planansky watching from the sideline to begin the game. The Coyote defense took advantage of the opportunity by forcing Hay Springs into a three-and-out to start the game. The offense took over looking to capitalize on the defensive stop and the good field position in Hawks territory, but turned it over on downs.

After the opening series, Hay Springs inserted their regular starting core into the game and on the first offensive play, Reed ran 45 yards for his first touchdown of the evening. The next four scoring plays all came from the Hawks and all came from over 40 yards out. Reed threw a 45-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Bryce Running Hawk then ran in another touchdown from 44 yards to end the first quarter. At the end of one, the score stood Hay Springs 24, Potter-Dix 0.

Midway through the second, Hay Springs sent the senior laden starter group back on the field and quarterback Coy Wolken found Tony Toof on a wheel route for a 42-yard touchdown connection to push the lead to 30-0. The Coyotes caught a spark on their next series as freshman Brandon Mendoza cut back and ran 40 yards down inside the Hawks red zone. A few plays later with first and goal from near the five, Mendoza lost the ball while fighting for extra yards and Hay Springs recovered deep in their own territory.

Despite the missed opportunity to put points on the board, Potter-Dix didn’t hang their heads as they forced a turnover of their own when Mendoza recovered a fumble near midfield with 3:40 to go before halftime. The Coyotes again marched their way into Hawks territory and this time senior quarterback Dylan Nielsen would not be denied as he shook off a couple of a tacklers and ran in a touchdown from five yards out. Mendoza kicked through the 2-point conversion to make the score 30-8.

Unfortunately for the Potter-Dix there was still 1:27 left on the clock after that scoring play giving Hay Springs time to possibly add more points to the board. On the first play of the succeeding offensive series, Wolken took a shovel pass from Planansky 35 yards to the end zone to increase the lead back to 37-8 before half.

To start the second half, the Coyotes had possession of the ball, but couldn’t do anything with it as they were forced into a three-and-out by an aggressive Hawks defense. Nielsen lined up to punt in the shadow of his own goal post, but Planansky came through, blocked the punt, and recovered it in the end zone for a Hay Springs touchdown. He then threw to freshman Charles Schiaffo for the one-point conversion and made the score 44-8. The 36-point deficit started a running clock for the remainder of the game unless Potter-Dix was able to cut the deficit within 35.

The Coyotes were never able to do so while the Hawks added a two more touchdowns before the clock hit triple zeros in the fourth quarter and gave Hay Springs the 57-8 win.

Reed finished with 144 yards, unofficially, on five carries while also reaching pay dirt three times and adding the one scoring toss to Running Hawk. Potter-Dix held Hay Springs to 236 rushing yards, nearly 100 less than they had been allowing on the season, and 160 less than the Hawks had been averaging.

For the Coyotes, freshman Donnie Moench led the team in carries with 15, but it was tough sledding against the Hay Springs front as he managed 21 yards. Mendoza’s 40-yard carry was the longest play from scrimmage of the night for Potter-Dix and gave him the team lead in rushing yards. Nielsen didn’t have the statistical night that he’s used to having finishing 3-16 for 20 yards and 14 carries for 29 yards, but in scoring the lone touchdown, and making several defensive plays, he was named player of the game.

The victory moves Hay Springs to 6-1 on the season, breaking last season’s win total which was five. The Hawks head into a bye this week before wrapping up their regular season on October 20 at Hyannis (4-2). It doesn’t get any easier for the Coyotes as they return home to wrap up their regular season next Friday night against undefeated Cody-Kilgore (6-0).

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