Arrows hold off Comets 42-36 [UPDATED]Published 10:10am Saturday, September 14, 2013 Updated 10:11am Saturday, September 14, 2013
ASHBY – Standing across the field from his old coach and team, Ashby head coach Jeff Risbrudt, a 2007 graduate of Hillcrest, was surrounded by many familiar things as his Arrows squad lined up against coach Charlie Brue and the Hillcrest Comets Friday night.
It wasn’t just the white and red of the Comet jerseys, but also the signals, formations and determination coach Brue brought out in his players.
But Friday night was Ashby’s night. All of Risbrudt’s old memories and experiences with his former team went into preparing his Arrows, who had dropped the first two games of the season.
That preparation earned the Arrows their first win of the season, edging out the Comets 42-36. The win also goes down as Risbrudt’s first as a head coach.
“It’s kind of funny, sometimes they all yelled out things and it used to be the same thing I’d call out with play calls and counts. It was pretty fun,” Risbrudt said following the game. “It (the win) is special, even though I wish it would have come in the first two. It’s pretty memorable and I’ll remember that for the rest of my life.”
Risbrudt had his team out running from the get-go. Ashby quarterback Blake Ohren opened the game with two touchdowns, rushing in from seven yards and throwing a pass to receiver Reed Hanson for a 32 yard score. Hunter Fick rushed for two conversions, giving the Arrows a 16-0 lead.
Hillcrest stayed in step with the athletic Arrow offense early on with a 78 yard catch and run by receiver Evan Malmstrom after catching a pass from Sam Isaac.
In the second quarter, Ashby kept the offense rolling and had the Comets on their heels.
Fick, who ran the ball aggressively all night, scored from two yards out after a long drive put the Arrows on the goal line. The failed extra point gave the Arrows a 22-6 lead.
Without back Vinnie Veum, who was injured the entire week and did not dress for the game, the Comets sputtered offensively throughout the first half. But Isaac kept his team in the game with his arm, hitting Evan Newman for a 15 yard pass after Hillcrest strung together a successful drive.
Ohren wouldn’t be outdone by his counterpart, however. Making a number of reads and stretching the Comet defense with his legs, the quarterback kept his team in stride. Ohren rushed for the final score of the half, weaving between would-be tacklers for a 60 yard scramble into the end zone. With the score, Ashby looked to be cruising to victory with a 30-12 lead at the half.
The Arrows increased their lead to 24 in the third after Hanson took a hand off around the edge, broke several tackles and scored on a 50 yard run.
But Hillcrest wouldn’t go away. Down 42-20 in the fourth quarter, the Comets asserted themselves through the air. In only his second game of the year after coming out for the team late in the season, Comet receiver Daniel Nersten caught his first touchdown of the season from 12 yards out.
Nersten wouldn’t stop there. After Arrow back Gage Olson turned the ball over on a fumble at midfield, the Comets recovered and sent out their offense. Nersten caught a pass on the fly, broke through a tackle from an Arrow defensive back and found open ground for a 45 yard touchdown.
With two conversions after the touchdowns, Hillcrest cut the lead to six with 2:40 left in the game.
The Comets sent out their kick team for an onside and looked to have the ball, but it was touched before going the required 10 yards. Ashby took over, but its drive stalled and they were forced to punt
Hillcrest had one last chance, taking over on its own 24 yard line with 30 seconds left in the game. After finding Malmstrom for ten yards, who stopped the clock by running out of bounds, Isaac couldn’t find another open receiver and the Comets eventually failed on a fourth down, giving Ashby the game.
With his offense and defense running so effectively for most of the game, Risbrudt mentioned his young team is starting to play a more unified game.
“I think the main thing is that we’re all trying to work together as a team more,” Risbrudt said. “Understanding the philosophies of what we’re doing, in my opinion, it usually takes one or two weeks and maybe for these guys it has taken a little longer, but I think that’s what is clicking.”
The Arrow offense also showed much of the talent and athleticism it possesses in the backfield. Ohren went 9-14 passing with 119 yards and 1 touchdown. He also attacked the Comet defense successfully with his legs, running for 125 yards and two touchdowns.
Fick led the Arrow rushing attack with 155 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns. Olson was just under 100 with 95 yards on 22 carries. He also led the team in receiving with 4 receptions for 68 yards.
Hanson carried the ball four times for 95 yards and scored one rushing touchdown. He also had four receptions for 44 yards and a touchdown.
“A lot of those plays that were touchdowns weren’t designated for that,” Risbrudt said. “They’re athletes and they’re just making plays.”
Risburdt also credited his offensive line of Dakota Fossan, Devon Young, Jeff Berglund, Sid Kamrath and Gavin Saxton of creating opportunities up front.
Defensively, Fick led the Arrows with 11 tackles and an interception. Zach Barry followed up with eight tackles, Ohren had seven and Olson had six and a half.
Comet head coach Charlie Brue credited his team with staying in the game and making it competitive down to the last second.
“I’m just proud of the way the guys did come back and they never quit, giving us a chance at the end,” Brue said. “We want to keep getting sharper, maybe expand our number of plays and figure out what is working.”
Ashby hits the road to face rival Underwood next Friday. Hillcrest hosts Verndale on the same night. Both games begin at 7 p.m.