No. 1-ranked Hazen uses ground game to beat back No. 2 Killdeer in Region 4 showdown
HAZEN -- Before entering Tuesday night's game, No. 1-ranked Hazen and No. 2 Killdeer knew it was going to be a battle from start to finish.
The teams were exactly correct.
Hazen used a pair of first-half touchdowns to take a 21-6 win over the Cowboys to secure the Class 1A, Region 4 title on Tuesday.
"It was a real good battle," Hazen head coach Rick Philion said. "It was two good teams and unfortunately one of us had to lose. I got to give all the credit in the world to Killdeer, because defensively they played hard. They flew to the ball and they were really physical."
Killdeer head coach Lou Dobitz added: "Everybody just came to play football. Now we know where we stand. We had to fight in that second half and things didn't turn out our way. We showed them that we aren't a pushover."
Hazen (8-0, 6-0 Region 4) scored the opening touchdown on a Briar Bornemann 25-yard run. The senior running back finished with 110 yards on 22 carries.
However, some of the biggest yardage came from senior running back Nate Leintz.
Leintz rushed nine times for 71 yards and two of those rushes ended up in the end zone. His first was a 5-yard TD run in the second quarter and ended the game's scoring with a 43-yard run with 33 seconds left in the game. He also caught a 35-yard pass from Connor Doll to set up his first score.
"The line blocked great for me tonight," Leintz said. "I give all the credit to them. I just took the ball and hit the hole that they made for me. I just tried to make something happen."
Though the Cowboys (7-1, 5-1 Region 4) managed to move the ball in the first half, they were saddled by three turnovers -- two fumbles and one interception.
At halftime, the Bison led 14-0, but they didn't feel the slightest bit comfortable.
"We knew the game was far from over because we were playing a fantastic team," Philion said. "If you have speed like Killdeer does, they can score points in bunches real fast."
With no scoring in the third quarter and a majority of the fourth quarter, Killdeer scored its first and only touchdown on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Trenton Rohr to Calum Blankenship.
The play happened with 4:23 remaining in the game. Rohr went 13 of 24 for 191 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Though Killdeer trailed for a majority of the game, Blankenship felt the Cowboys were never out of contention.
"Our team always knew we were in the game," Blankenship said. "We just needed a spark and I'm glad that I could have done that."
Hazen and Killdeer now prepare to host their respective home playoff games Oct. 26.
Both players and coaches voiced that it wouldn't be a surprise if they saw each other in the semifinals of the Class 1A playoffs.
"We just want to get through playoffs and hopefully see these guys again," Blankenship said.
Philion added: "I'm going to be honest. I wouldn't be surprised to see Killdeer again for match number two."
Killdeer 0 0 0 6 -- 6
Hazen 7 7 0 7 -- 21
H-Briar Bornemann 25 run (Hunter Fears kick), 10:20
H-Nate Leintz 5 run (Fears kick), 1:28
K-Trenton Rohr 18 pass to Calum Blankenship (Dillan Jepson kick failed), 4:23
H-Leintz 43 run (Fears kick), :33
RUSHING: H, Briar Bornemann 22-110, Nate Leintz 9-71, Connor Doll 8-21.
PASSING: K, Trenton Rohr 13-24-1, 191. H, Doll 2-5-1, 48.
RECEIVING: H, Leintz 1-35, Bornemann 1-13.