Killdeer upsets No. 2-ranked Heart RiverKILLDEER — Aside from an 85-yard Heart River touchdown run, the first half couldn’t have been more perfect for the Killdeer football team.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
KILLDEER — Aside from an 85-yard Heart River touchdown run, the first half couldn’t have been more perfect for the Killdeer football team.
Luckily for the No. 2-ranked Cougars, football is played in two halves.
However, the Cowboys wouldn’t going away and John Knopik scored the game-winning 3-yard TD run late in the fourth quarter as Killdeer upset the previously unbeaten Cougars 29-27 on Friday.
“I think our confidence level is beyond high,” Killdeer senior lineman Brock Pittsley said. “Our quarterback played extremely well and I think we’ll be able to grow from this and roll into playoffs.”
Christian Kulish ripped apart for the Cougars’ undersized secondary in the first half, going 7 of 16 for 73 yards and two touchdowns. The senior quarterback connected with four different receivers and hit Cody Johnson and Tuff Kling on 15- and 4-yard TD passes, respectively.
Kling’s came with 16 seconds left in the half and gave the Cowboys (4-3, 4-1 Region 4) a 22-6 halftime lead.
“The first half went just as planned,” Kulish said. “We planned to come out hot. We haven’t come out hot all year.”
Knopik carried the workload on 14 carries for 65 yards, including the game-winning TD with 3:39 left.
Kulish’s biggest pass play came just before Knopik’s final touchdown. He found sophomore Trenton Rohr on a 28-yard heave on fourth-and-8. The senior quarterback said his heart stopped after he threw the ball.
“That was the scariest moment in my entire life,” Kulish said with a smile. “That was win or lose right there.”
Despite Heart River’s stagnate offensive first half, senior running back Seth Ewoniuk and the Cougars (5-1, 4-1 Region 4) scored 16 unanswered points to bring the game within two points, 22-20, in the waning seconds of the third quarter.
“We shot ourselves in the foot the first half,” said Ewoniuk, who had 20 carries for 110 yards and two TDs. “We can’t do that against a good team like Killdeer. They came out and played hard.”
Ewoniuk scored on a 30-yard reception from junior quarterback Tyson Kudrna with a minute left in the game, but Killdeer’s Lewis Dobitz, who played in his first regular season game after suffering an arm injury early in the year, recovered the onside kick to seal the Cowboys’ victory.
“The third and fourth quarter we played really well,” Heart River head coach Dave Hendrickson said. “They are a good, physical football team. You have to give them credit.”
Dobitz had eight carries for 65 yards with a majority of those yards coming in the first half. However, Dobitz’s feats were better served at the safety position.
“Our defense really came to play ball tonight,” Killdeer head coach Lou Dobitz said. “Our kids had to make plays and it’s nice to see that.”
Heart River’s only non-defensive miscue in the first half was a snap over the head of punter Isaiah Marschner. The missed punt set up Kulish’s 4-yard TD strike to Kling.
“Christian does a good job and he’s efficient,” Lou Dobitz said. “He does a good job to get the ball where it needs to go.”
Cole Hecker led Heart River with 16 carries for 131 yards. The Cougars outgained Killdeer 319 to 285 in total yards.
“We are definitely going to learn from this game,” Ewoniuk said. “They are a physical team, one of the best in our region, they really stuck it to us tonight and we really needed that.”
HR 6 0 14 7 — 27
Killdeer 8 14 0 7 — 29
HR–Cole Hecker 85 run (Mitch Krebs kick failed), 9:25.
K–Trenton Rohr 5 run (Calum Blankenship pass from Christian Kulish), 4:44.
K–Cody Johnson 15 pass from Kulish (Rohr run), 5:50.
K–Tuff Kling 4 pass from Kulish (Brock Pittsley kick failed), :16.
HR–Seth Ewoniuk 6 run (Ewoniuk pass from Tyson Kudrna), 6:36.
HR–Ewoniuk 3 run (run failed), :10.
K–John Knopik 3 run (Pittsley kick), 3:39.
HR–Ewoniuk 30 pass from Kudrna (Krebs kick), 1:02.
RUSHING: HR, Seth Ewoniuk 20-110, Cole Hecker 16-131, Clayton Tangen 1-6. K, Lewis Dobitz 8-65, John Knopik 14-65, Trenton Rohr 3-7, Christian Kulish 8-22.
PASSING: HR, Tyson Kudrna 5-8-1, 72. K, Kulish 8-17-2, 101.
RECEIVING: HR, Ewoniuk 5-50, Brady Olson 2-22. K, Cody Johnson 3-43, Calum Blankenship 1-5, Tuff Kling 2-9, Rohr 1-28, Dobitz 1-16.