HALSTEAD — The Halstead Dragons entered Friday night's football game with two goals — slow down one of the state's top running backs and try and knock off the state's top-ranked team in Class 4A Div. II.
They nearly met both goals, but Travis Theis' 210 rushing yards with two touchdowns on 26 carries proved to be just a little too much for the Dragons in a 39-30 Greenback win.
"I think in the second half we controlled him a little more, I'd like to see what he had in the second half," said Jason Grider, Halstead head coach. "He is one of the best running backs in the state. There are two of them in our league. ... He is a good one."
The answer is 75 yards in the second half — including a 67-yard touchdown scamper with 3:39 in the third quarter that nearly put out the Dragon's fire.
Had Halstead not answered with an 11 play drive capped by a 36-yard touchdown pass by Dalton Kraus to Noah Mendez, Halstead may have faded into the night. However, that drive, which set the score at 39-22 with 10:52, put Halstead back in the hunt.
Pratt began to make mistakes, and Halstead began to swing momentum in their favor.
A holding call on their next drive pushed the Greenbacks up against their own goal-line, and Pratt was unable to get out past the 13 before punting the ball away. Pratt was able to hold Halstead back on the next possession — keeping the Dragons out of the end zone on a fourth-down play from the Pratt nine.
Two plays later missed blocking assignments led to just the second Halstead tackle for loss in the game when Theis lost six yards on a sweep. Pratt again was forced to punt from the shadow of their own goal line. The next mistake for Pratt came one play later, and proved to be costly. A facemask call after a completed pass from Kraus to Lane Pitts gave Halstead a first down at the Pratt 13. Two plays later Kraus scored on a four-yard run, punctuated by a two-point conversion run from Scott Grider — setting the score at 39-30 with 3:26 to play.
Halstead's defense again rose to the occasion, and again a missed block proved huge. Halstead's Kameron Freeman was able to block a punt, setting Halstead up with a first down at the Pratt 20 yard line.
"He has been battling a high ankle sprain all year and he has been giving us what he can give us," Jason Grider said.
However, Halstead would not make Pratt pay — the Pratt defense, or more specifically Kadence Riner, sacked Kraus on a fourth down play to end the Dragon threat. Pratt was able to run out the clock from there.
Theis led all rushers with 210 yards on 26 carries. Krauss led Halstead with 88 rushing yards on 14 carries, paced by Scott Grider with 85 yards on 24 carries.
Pratt remains undefeated at 6-0, while Halstead drops to 2-4. Next up for Pratt will be a home tilt against Hugoton while Halstead will host Haven.
PHS 19, 6, 14, 0, 39
HHS 8, 6, 0, 16, 30
PHS Theis, 35-yard run (Anchondo kick) 7-0
PHS Riner, 32-yard run (Kick failed) 13-0
HHS Grider, 1-yard run (Grider run) 13-8
PHS Studer, 62-yard pass to Roadhouse (Run failed) 19-9
PHS Studer, 33-yard pass to Blankenship (Kick failed) 25-8
HHS Grider, 1-yard run (Run failed) 25-14
PHS Studer, 40-yard pass to Winsor (Anchondo kick) 32-14
PHS Theis, 67-yard run (Anchondo kick) 39-14
HHS Kraus, 36-yard pass to Mendez (Grider run) 39-22
HHS Kraus, 4-yard run (Grider run) 39-30