Howard falls to Potter County 22-8 in semifinals
HOWARD — Howard’s usual big run plays and countless touchdowns were stalled Saturday by a physical Potter County team.
The No. 2 Tigers, who rushed for over 300 yards in eight of their nine previous games, were held to 273 yards rushing en route to falling to No. 3 Potter County 22-8 in a Class 9A semifinal football game in Howard.
“They forced us out of our normal plays that we run and we had to do some other things,” Howard coach Pat Ruml said. “The physical nature of their guys up front and linebackers, they did a nice job of taking us out of our normal game plan.”
Howard (10-1) outgained the Battlers (10-1) on offense 285-262, yet big passing plays between Potter County senior quarterback Chayce Hall and senior wide receiver Tanner Heuer were hard to defend. Potter County threw for 144 yards and rushed for 118 in the game, while the Tigers rushed for 273 yards and threw for one 12-yard reception.
This is Potter County’s first trip to the Class 9A championship game since its co-op three years ago. Potter County, which is made up of Gettysburg and Hoven, will face Leola/Frederick in the title game at 11 a.m. Thursday at the DakotaDome in Vermillion.
Howard coach Pat Ruml, whose Tigers made the title game last season, said his team overcame many obstacles this season, including replacing 13 seniors from last year’s roster.
“We get a majority of our starters back next year, so I’m sure they’ll be hungry,” Ruml said Saturday. “It’s disappointing now but we’ve had some games that were pretty close and have had some things where our guys have had to rise to the challenge, and I think tonight we fell short to the better team.
“Hats off to Potter County, they’re as physical team as we’ve played all year.”
The Tigers opened up the game with a drive full of successful run plays and senior running back Isaiah Glanzer capped it off with a 4-yard touchdown — the only for Howard in the game. Junior running back Luke Loudenberg had no trouble converting on the two-point conversion and Howard led 8-0 early in the first.
“That first drive it took us a while to get used to how fast they were coming at us,” Potter County head coach Vern Smith said. “Size-wise it can ware people down, especially in the third and fourth quarters.”
After defensive stands by both teams, the Battlers took advantage of field position as they began the drive on Howard’s 33-yard line. Hall connected on a 29-yard pass to senior wide receiver Tanner Heuer to get on the board, and with a successful conversion by Hall, the Battlers tied the game at 8-8, which would remain the score until late in the third quarter.
Both teams made big fourth-down stops when the other was on the verge of scoring late in the second quarter. Loudenburg broke up a Potter County pass, while the Battlers put heavy pressure on Tiger junior quarterback Gunner Gilbertson, forcing an incomplete pass.
Hall helped the Battlers take their first lead of the game in the third with a 15-yard touchdown run. Potter County pulled away from the Tigers two minutes later with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Hall to Heuer.
Hall finished with 144 yards and two touchdowns on 10-of-19 passing and had three carries for 11 yards. Heuer had three receptions for 48 yards and two scores. Potter County’s pressure forced Howard into uncomfortable waters as Heuer made two interceptions.
Leading the way for Howard was Loudenburg, who had 31 carries for 153 yards. Loudenburg finished his season with 239 carries for 2,252 yards and 37 touchdowns.
Tiger junior running back Jordan Kuhle finished with 13 carries for 97 yards and hauled on one catch for 12 yards. Gilbertson had six carries for 37 yards and was 1-of-11 passing for 12 yards.
Defensively, junior lineman Bailey Neises led Howard in tackles with 15 and was followed by junior linemane Kaleb Haas with 14 and senior lineman Nick Pardy with 13.
H: Isaiah Glanzer 4 run (Luke Loudenburg run)
PC: Tanner Heuer 29 pass from Chayce Hall (Hall run)
PC: Hall 15 run (Hall run)
PC: Heuer 19 pass from Hall (Heuer run)