BEEMER – In a treat made for Halloween, Guardian Angels Central Catholic defeated Howells-Dodge 40-34 in the second round of the Class D1 football playoffs on Wednesday night, as heard on 107.9 The Bull.
Howells-Dodge started the game with authority, scoring on the very first play of the game as Dylan Horejsi raced 57 yards for the score, going up 8-0.
GACC fumbled on their first possession, giving the Jaguars the ball on the Bluejays 24 yard line. Horejsi reached the end zone for the second time in the first quarter, this time from two yards out. The score was 14-0 in favor of the Jaguars with 8:12 left in the first.
The Bluejays were able to get on the scoreboard on their next possession, capping off a 49 yard drive with a two yard run by Jared Minnick. The score was 14-6 with 4:01 in the first.
The Jaguars scored on their third straight offensive possession in the first half, a 25 yard pass from Darrin Pokorny to Luke Rocheford, making it 20-6 Howells-Dodge.
After Being forced to punt, the Bluejays were able to hold Howells-Dodge on fourth down from the GACC 30. GACC then took two plays to score again, a 49 yard run by Minnick, making it 20-14, still in favor of Howells-Dodge.
Howells-Dodge punted on the next possession, and GACC set up at the Jaguar 27 following a bad snap on the punt. The Bluejays tied the game on a 11 yard pass from Cody Steffen to Minnick, making it 20-20 with 1:40 left in the first half
The Jaguars weren’t done just yet however, as they would go 51 yards in 18 seconds, thanks to a 33 yard touchdown run by Horejsi, and Howells-Dodge would take a 26-20 lead into halftime.
There were two key injuries in the first half. Howells-Dodge’s Trevor Schumacher was injured earlier in the first half and was taken off the field in an ambulance. GACC’s Jared Minnick pulled his hamstring late in the second quarter. Both players missed the second half.
GACC got the ball to start the second half, starting at their own 5. Steffen raced 63 yards for a touchdown tying the game 26-26 with 10:54 in the third.
Howells-Dodge was turned away on fourth down from midfield on their first offensive possession of the second half. The Bluejays took advantage and finished the drive with a 45 yard scoring pass from Steffen to Jadyn Smeal. The two point conversion was good, and GACC led 34-26 with 7:08 in the third.
The Jaguars answered right back, however, marching 48 yards and ending the drive on a three yard touchdown run by Horejsi, his fourth of the night. The two point try tied the game at 34-34 with 3:44 in the third.
GACC punted and then Howells-Dodge fumbled, with the Bluejays recovering at their own 28 yard line. The Bluejays finished the drive with a 29 yard touchdown run by Noah Hass, giving GACC a 40-34 lead with 10:53 left in the game.
Howells-Dodge started marching down the field to tie or win, and got down to the GACC 15 where they went for it on fourth down and were stopped.
GACC took over at their own 15 with 6:49 left in the game and were able to pick up enough first downs to eventually run out the clock, securing the 40-34 victory.
Horejsi was the S&W Welding Player of the Game for Howells-Dodge, and Cody Steffen earned the award for GACC.
Jared Minnick of GACC was the recipient of the CharterWest Sportsmanship Award.
Howells-Dodge ends their season at 7-3 overall.
GACC improves to 9-1 on the season, and will face Exeter-Miligan-Friend on the road in the D1 Quarterfinals next Tuesday.