Hayfield Breaks Losing Streak In Win At Wabasha-Kellogg

It was a battle of two High School football teams looking for their first win of the season, and a spark to maybe turn their programs around in Wabasha on Friday, September 7th.

Wabasha-Kellogg had been oh so close to their first winning season since 1996, last year, finishing with a 4-4 regular season record, before falling to Fillmore Central in the playoffs.  Not bad for a team who lost a key member of their defense, Tagen Miller, with an injury in Week 5.  Miller had such a good start to last season, he finished the year leading the team in tackles, even though he missed the final 4 games of the year.

Hayfield, meanwhile, went 0-9 last year and had to forfeit a game due to low numbers in the program.  The returning players vowed to never have that happen again.  In the off-season, they recruited 10-15 players to give them a better chance at victory.  Since the 2004-05 season, Hayfield had a combined 18-108 record, with just one 4-win season, coming in the 2013-14 school year.

Both teams proved they were hungry, and ready for better days in the second game of the 2018-19 season.  The offenses for both squads moved the ball well at times, before the opposing defenses were able to figure things out, and force punts or 4th down stops.

Wabasha-Kellogg struck first when Jamie Hewitt broke loose on a 44-yard run with 7:10 remaining in the 2nd Quarter.  The Falcon 2-point conversion failed, but the Falcons took the first lead at 6-0.

Hayfield would get the first of several signature moments later in the quarter.  A missed handoff from Falcon quarterback Luke Bergan to Hewitt resulted in a loose ball, scooped up by the Vikings’ Tristan Rieken.  Rieken scampered down the field on a breakaway, and almost returned the fumble for a touchdown, but he was chased down by Ian Jeffrey, and stopped at the 3-yard line.  A couple of plays later, Viking quarterback Jake Risius kept the snap, and rushed in for the final 3 yards, and scored.  An extra point from Ethan Koski gave the Vikings a 7-6 lead.  Hayfield held the lead into the break, thanks to an end-of-the-half interception by Mason Nitz, who then fell to the ground in pain, and was assisted off the field.  He would return in the second half.

After the break, play continued as it did earlier in the game.  Both teams showed flashes on offense, but were denied by the defense, who would figure things out by the time the offense would get to the red zone.  Wabasha-Kellogg would get an interception by Tagen Miller in the third quarter, but Hayfield had the answer on defense to stop the Falcon drive.

It seemed like both teams had chances to put the final dagger in the game, but that didn’t come until there were less than 2 minutes left in the game, and Nitz came away with his second interception of the game, again falling to the field with a leg injury.   Hayfield would be stopped on offense by the Falcon defense, who took their time-outs, hoping for one last shot.

After a 3rd down play, Hayfield ran the clock down to 5 seconds, and took a time-out to avoid a delay of game.  The punting unit came on for Hayfield, and the Falcons stacked the line, hoping for a block that almost came several times during the game.  The final snap went in to the air, handled by punter Carter Kyllo, who out-kicked the defense, and the ball rolled onto the grass as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

The Vikings earned the win, 7-6, snapping thier 11-game losing streak.  They will hope to start a winning streak at home, next week when they host the Cotter Ramblers.

Wabasha-Kellogg falls to 0-2 on the season, and will travel to Blooming Prairie next week.

Football Night on HBC will be in Lewiston next week, as the Lewiston-Altura Cardinals host the Dover-Eyota Eagles.  Game time on September 14 is 7pm, and the game can be seen on HBC TV-25, HD Channel 525.

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