The Holden football team found an advantage in the second half of its home football game against Mid-Buchanan as the Eagles defeated the visiting Dragons by the final score of 27-13 on Friday, September 1.
Holden played to a 7-6 lead at halftime and ultimately forced the normally run-heavy Dragons into using a passing attack that could not keep pace with four total rushing touchdowns scored by the Eagles.
“Mid-Buch is such a traditionally great program that has nine, ten-win seasons,” said Holden football head coach David Diener. “That’s what we’re wanting to establish here. When they come out, they expect to win, and so do we now.
“This was a game that we needed to prove that…to prove that we’re right there. Hats off to Mid-Buch. They had a great game plan, particularly defensively that gave us fits early. Eventually, we were able to still win out with our kids. We’re fresh, you know being able to play as many guys both ways as we are. I think that still was a big advantage for us this game.”
The Eagles put the first points of the game on the scoreboard on a one-yard touchdown by Reco Jenkins with five minutes remaining in the first quarter. Lane Inglis kicked the extra point for the early 7-0 lead which held until the final seconds of the first half.
In spite of two penalties against Mid-Buchanan, an incomplete pass with Trent Stout pressuring Dragons quarterback Raife Smith, and a second incomplete pass, the Dragons would find the end zone on a touchdown toss with fourteen seconds remaining in the half, but would miss their extra-point kick to set the halftime score at 7-6 in favor of the Eagles.
“Trent’s a change of pace kid, he’s fast, he plays with a lot of energy so when he’s in there we expect those types of big plays, and we want to keep him there when he’s fresh as a rotator there,” said coach Diener of Stout’s effort on the night. “Absolutely, we expect big plays every time he’s in.”
Early in the third quarter, Jenkins followed a strong push from the Eagle offensive line to put up another touchdown run on a four-yard carry with Inglis tacking on the extra-point kick.
“We challenged them (the offensive linemen) at halftime,” said coach Diener. “It wasn’t like we weren’t playing well, but they were making it tough on our O-line. We really feel like that is our strength of our offense is our size up front. We knew that was a mismatch that we were going to have to start winning, and they absolutely stepped up and did it. I’m so proud of them.”
A Dragons touchdown pass from Smtih to running back Ian Wegenka, and a successful two-point conversion late in the third period tied the score as the visitors explored the passing game against the Eagles.
“We knew he (Wegenka) was their guy,” said coach Diener. “He played great. We forced them to throw the ball which we knew was going to be a test for our secondary, but we knew that was not their strength either. They want to run the ball and get downhill. Our D-line played great.
“Tucker Kauffman had a good game,” continued coach Diener in describing the defensive effort against the Dragons. “We moved some edge players around, and we felt that Wes (Brown) and CJ (Reifsetck) had a pretty good game there, too. Our secondary played outstanding. Ultimately, we were in the spots and made them earn everything, and that’s why I think we kept them to 14 (points).
“I’m also proud of coach Keller,” emphasized coach Diener. “Coach Keller on the defensive side has stepped up so much more this year in his role. He’s been a guy who’s been with me since I started here. He called an absolutely outstanding game. We worked together on the defense the first two years, and he has started to take that over. His first two games this year, he has been on top of everything. He’s done a really good job, and it’s helped our defense a lot, him taking that over and owning that responsibility.”
On offense, Reifsteck would swing the momentum in Holden’s favor on a long end around play on the Eagles’ second play of the fourth quarter.
Two plays later, Eagles quarterback Aiden Morarity scored on a keeper with Inglis adding the extra-point kick.
Following a punt by Mid-Buchanan that left Holden on their own 15-yard line, Jenkins took the first handoff and sprinted 85 yards for the game’s final touchdown. A failed extra-point kick set the final score at 27-14.
Coach Diener noted Reifsteck’s carry to set up Morarity’s score, and Jenkins’s final score.
“We expect those big plays when we call them,” said coach Diener of Reifsteck’s run. “We run so much strong side, and then we have those misdirection plays that we expect to pop…and it did on CJ’s. It was the exact same type concept with Reco on his long run.”
Senior Eagle defensive back Matthew Reynolds shut down what would be Mid-Buchanan’s final drive of the game by intercepting a pass with seven minutes remaining on the game clock.
Holden would run out the final seven minutes with Morarity kneeling in victory formation as the final seconds ticked down.
“We wanted to either score or not give them the ball back, and we ended the drive inside the 10 (yard line) with the clock running out,” said coach Diener. “Our kids executed outstanding up front. We just kept getting chunk five, six yards a pop, and we absolutely had a great drive.”
Jenkins finished the game with 3 touchdowns and 237 yards on 28 carries. Morarity had 1 touchdown and 68 yards on 8 carries.
Reifsteck contributed 39 rushing yards on 2 carries, Jayden Davis-Hacker had 35 yards on 10 carries, Sam Comer had 32 yards on 6 carries, and Wes Brown had 7 yards on 2 carries.
Morarity completed 3 passes for 67 yards. Cohen Drake caught 2 passes for 59 yards. Reifsteck had 1 catch for 8 yards.
On defense, Kauffman led with 14 total tackles (7 solo, 7 assists). Matthew Reynolds, Kale Tryon, and Sauren Folson each had 9 total tackles. Kaysen Tevis and Andrew Johnston each had 8 total tackles. Other tacklers included Jacon Andes with 7, Reifsteck and Justin Brown with 6 each, Wes Brown and Isaac Bell with 5 each, Trent Stout with 4, Aiden Christian with 3, and Brody Bockover with 2. Reynolds recorded the 1 interception. Stout and Christian each had 2 tackles for loss.
After last week’s win over Mid-Buchanan, the Holden football team held an overall record of 2-0 with no conference games played.
This Friday, the Holden football team travels to Clinton. Game time is 7 p.m.