Red Devils get a win over Havre on senior night

By 
Jason Stuart Ranger-review Staff Writer
Thursday, September 24, 2020
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Jamie Ausk Crisafulli photo Running back Cole Storlie outruns the Havre defense to score for the Red Devils during the second quarter.

The Dawson County Red Devils put up a big first half and then cruised the rest of the way in a 32-14 beatdown of the Havre Blue Ponies last Friday night at the Oakland Athletic Complex.

Celebrating Senior Night during the first of only three home games in this COVID-19 shortened season, the Red Devils gave everyone on their side plenty to celebrate, riding a hot passing game and a stifling defense to a big lead at halftime. While the team was not nearly as sharp in the second half, DCHS head coach Ryan Buckley said he was very happy with the way his team bounced back after suffering a blowout loss in their season opener against Custer County.

“I was really proud of them. We challenged them during the week about giving more effort and being more aggressive and just competing well,” Buckley said. “And I felt our kids came out and competed really well and with a lot more confidence than they did the week before.”

The DCHS defense set the table for the team in the early going, taking the ball away from Havre in each of their first two possessions. Junior Riley Basta, who had a huge night on the offensive side of the ball, picked off Havre quarterback Trenton Maloughney on the Blue Ponies’ first possession, though the Red Devils were unable to convert any points out of it. The next time Havre had the ball, junior defensive end Max Eaton blasted Maloughney for a sack-fumble and the Red Devils recovered the ball at their own 39.

From there it didn’t take long for DCHS to make Havre pay. Junior quarterback Parker Buckley hit Basta for a 33-yard strike on first down to get things moving, then hit Camron Egan for another 27 yards through the air to give DCHS first-and-goal at the 1. Dawson Rowsey finished things off with a short dive for the touchdown. The extra point try went wide, but the Red Devils held a 6-0 lead at 3:36 in the first quarter.

After stuffing Havre again on defense, the Red Devils went to work again, again moving the ball largely through the air as Parker spread the ball around. The drive ended with a pass to Basta in the flat, who then put a move on a Havre defender and raced past them untouched for a 16-yard touchdown pass at 9:18 in the second quarter. This time DCHS went for two and got it with a pass completion to Brodie Eckert, giving them a 14-0 lead.

The next Havre possession ended in another turnover, as senior defensive back Basil Crisafulli made an interception at midfield and returned it 32 yards to the Havre 12, giving the Red Devils another golden opportunity. Three plays later they made Havre suffer for the mistake. This time Parker took care of things himself with a QB keeper around the left side for an eightyard touchdown scamper. The kick went wanting again, giving DCHS a 20-0 lead with 6:57 left in the half.

DCHS wasn’t done though. After the defense forced Havre into a punt after a three-and-out, the offense got right back to work. Parker hit Basta for another big play on third-and-10 for 25 yards. Then on the next play junior running back Cole Storlie slashed right up the gut of the Havre defense and went untouched 44 yards to the endzone. The extra point was missed again — the DCHS kicking team went 0-4 on them, one of the few negatives in their game — and the Red Devils were up 26-0 with 4:01 left in the half.

The Red Devils were clicking in almost every way in the first half against Havre. On offense in particular, DCHS looked like a completely different team, especially in their passing game.

During most of Buckley’s tenure as DCHS head coach, the Red Devils have featured a run-heavy offensive style, rarely pushing the ball downfield through the air. But it was a different story Friday night as the DCHS offense came out firing, completing one big pass play downfield after another. Parker had hit six different receivers for over 150 yards through the air before halftime, and Basta was racking up the receiving yards. Buckley said that after a tough first outing, he felt like his team started to find itself on offense against Havre and show glimpses of what could be their identity going forward this season.

“I think we kind of figured out some things that we do well, and now those are things we can build on throughout the season,” he said. “I do believe this could be the start of our identity of what we could become and what we could evolve into as a team.”

The game didn’t go quite as smoothly in the second half, as the Red Devils, relatively unaccustomed to holding a big lead at the half, seemed to let off the gas a little bit. The offense sputtered throughout most of the half and the defense started to give up ground. Havre finally got on the board early in the fourth quarter, scoring after a long drive and making a twopoint conversion to make the score 26-8. They scored again with just over four minutes left in the game to make it 26-14.

Buckley noted that his team hasn’t found itself in that type of position very often, and said finishing out games with a big lead is something his team will have to learn how to do, and will hopefully get the opportunity to do again. But he also pointed the finger at himself for letting up when they had the opponent by the jugular.

“I’m going to take a look at myself, especially offensively,” Buckley said of the team’s second half performance. “A lot of that falls on me for getting too conservative there in the third quarter.”

The Red Devils finally drove the nail in the Blue Ponies’ coffin after their second score. Parker hit senior running back Aiden Franklin for another big pass play to give DCHS first-and-goal at the 4 and Rowsey ran it home for the score on the next play.

Parker had a big night passing, going 19-25 for 249 yards and a touchdown, with a rushing touchdown added. Basta caught seven passes for 112 yards and a touchdown. Crisafulli had four catches for 24 yards, Eckert two for 38 yards and Franklin two for 29 yards. Rowsey rushed the ball 18 times for 49 yards and two touchdowns and Storlie rushed four times for 51 yards and a score.

The Red Devils (1-1) will be back at home this Friday night for Homecoming against the archrival Sidney Eagles (0-2), who fell 31-7 against Laurel last Friday night.

Reach Jason Stuart at dcedc@midrivers.com.

“I think we kind of figured some things that we do well, and now those are things we can build on throughout the season,”

Ryan Buckley, Red Devil football caoch

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