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Ending on a high note: Heart River topples Southern McLean in regular season finale

BELFIELD -- With a 6-0 lead against Southern McLean and the ball on the opponent's 6-yard line late in the first half, Heart River head coach Jamie Wyant initially called for his special teams unit to attempt what would have been a 23-yard field ...

Heart River senior wide receiver Toby Wolf fist bumps the Cougars mascot during the starting introductions against Southern McLean on Friday, Oct. 12, from Belfield. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)
Heart River senior wide receiver Toby Wolf fist bumps the Cougars mascot during the starting introductions against Southern McLean on Friday, Oct. 12, from Belfield. (Patrick Bernadeau/The Dickinson Press)

BELFIELD - With a 6-0 lead against Southern McLean and the ball on the opponent's 6-yard line late in the first half, Heart River head coach Jamie Wyant initially called for his special teams unit to attempt what would have been a 23-yard field goal.

But in the matter seconds, with a little convincing from one of his assistant coaches, Wyant had a change of heart, calling a timeout and sending his offense back onto the field.

When the ball was snapped on fourth-and-goal, Cougars sophomore quarterback Nick Fagerberg connected with sophomore wide receiver Tyler Kastrow on a slant pattern at the goalline for the touchdown.

Heart River entered halftime with a 14-0 advantage before doubling their lead in the third quarter, eventually cruising to a 29-7 victory over the Roughriders on Friday, Oct. 12.

On what was Senior Night and Homecoming, the Cougars collected their first win of the season in their regular season finale.

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"Coach (Kyle) Watson, our defensive coordinator, just said go for it, and if we don't get it, the defense will get a stop," Wyant said. "That was probably the biggest thing, just a little bit of confidence in our defense. They had been stopping them all night and they'd get a stop again after having them pinned back. I really do appreciate Coach Watson and kind of getting in my ear on that one."

The defense was stellar through much of the night, forcing four turnovers. The first takeaway came on Southern McLean's first drive of the game after a bad snap was scooped up by sophomore linebacker Tanner Jarrett.

While the Cougars were unable to capitalize offensively, the defense kept the Roughriders in check, holding the road team to 35 yards gained in the first quarter.

"It's our coaching. Our coaches teach us to get low and rip through the line," said Cougars senior lineman Kyle Heiser, who had two sacks in the first 12 minutes of play. "We are kind of made to shut down run plays and run-style offenses. That really helps."

On the first play of the second quarter, Heart River broke through on the scoreboard after sophomore wide receiver Preston Walter got separated from his defender, streaked open down the sideline and hauled in a lofted pass from Fagerberg for a 32-yard touchdown connection.

Fagerberg was efficient, completing 11 of his 18 passes for 165 yards and three touchdowns. The sophomore's lone mistake came toward the end of the first half. On the exact call that worked minutes earlier, Fagerberg's pass intended for Kastrow was intercepted by senior defensive back Tate Bartolotto.

The Cougars quarterback would make up for his mistake in the third quarter, thanks to a terrific effort from Jarrett, who made a contested catch in the middle of the field before racing to the outside for a 40-yard scoring play.

"I felt a guy on my back and I knew I had to kick it in gear to get going," Jarrett said. "So I gave it one last effort and when I saw Nick throw the ball, I reached out and got it. I felt (the defender) brush off me so I was trying to run upfield and find open space. I looked to the right and my blocker, Trystan Gregory, hit a guy and I was able to dive into the endzone. My blockers helped me a lot."

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Heart River completed its scoring later in the frame when Cauy Shypkoski scored on a 14-yard touchdown scamper. The senior running back collected 146 yards on 31 carries in his final game with the Cougars.

The home team nearly completed the shutout, but Bertolotto broke free on the last play from scrimmage, making a diving catch for a 37-yard touchdown reception with two seconds remaining in regulation. Bertolotto finished with 10 catches and 167 receiving yards.

The Roughriders tried an onside kick, but Cougars offensive lineman Anton Krebs jumped on the loose ball.

Just a week earlier against Killdeer, Krebs had his potential game-tying point-after kick blocked with just three seconds left in the game. He was able to shake off the disappointment, not only making his last PAT, but ending his career, in his final play, with the ball in his hands at the clock struck triple zeros.

"It was surprising first off, but I was more than happy to do something like that at the end of the game because you never get to do it again. When it's over, it's over," Krebs said. "I was glad that it ended well."

Heart River 29, Southern McLean 7

SM 0 0 0 7 - 7

HR 0 14 15 0 - 29

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First quarter

No scoring.

Second quarter

HR - Preston Walter 32 pass from Nick Fagerberg (PAT no good), 11:53

HR - Tyler Kastrow 5 pass from Fagerberg (Tanner Jarrett from Walter), 3:02

Third quarter

HR - Jarrett 40 pass from Fagerberg (Trystan Gregory from Walter), 7:32

HR - Cauy Shypkoski 14 rush (Anton Krebs kick), 3:50

Fourth quarter

SM - Tate Bertolotto 37 pass from Dylan Williams (Bertolotto kick), 0:02

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: SM, Bertolotto 2-16; Devin Sailer 2-6. HR, Shypkoski 31-146, 1 TD; Walter 1-7.

PASSING: SM, Williams 17-33-0, 231 yards, 1 TD; Bertolotto 0-1-1; Sailer 0-2-1. HR, Fagerberg 11-18-1, 165 yards, 3 TDs; Walter 0-1.

RECEIVING: SM, Bertolotto 10-167, 1 TD; Sailer 2-32; Logan Schmitz 2-18. HR, Jarrett 4-83, TD; Gregory 4-34; Walter 1-31, TD; Toby Wolf 1-11; Tyler Kastrow 1-5, TD.

Records: SM, 1-7, 1-6 Region 4. HR, 2-6, 2-5 Region 4.

Related Topics: HEART RIVER COUGARS
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