HALSTEAD — When the Halstead Dragons took to the gridiron Friday night, the playoff picture was so convoluted, it took a chart to lay out all the possibilities. One thing was certain, Halstead needed a 12 point win to host the first round of the playoffs.
Halstead did not get the 12 point win, but that didn't dampen the enthusiasm on the sideline as the Dragons came from behind in the fourth quarter to tie the game — then win it in overtime with a touchdown run.
“We battled hard,” said coach Jason Grider. “We made some boneheaded mistakes during the game but they kept battling. I am as proud as heck of them — the grit and determination they showed. ... It would have been easy to come out and lay down.”
Halstead watched their hopes of hosting a playoff game slip away in the fourth quarter, but still picked up the dramatic win. To get the win, the Dragons had to score when down by eight in the fourth quarter — and block a field goal as time expired in regulation to force the overtime period.
The Dragons will go on the road for the playoffs, heading to Andale. The AV-CTL member finished the regular season 8-0 overall.
Halstead's clash with Chapman was defensive from the start — neither team scored in the first 12 minutes of the game.
Kaden Kraus broke the seal on the end zone on the first play of the second quarter, diving in from five yards out to cap a seven play, 67-yard drive and give Halstead a 6-0 lead.
Chapman found an answer on their next drive, making use of an untimely penalty on the Halstead and a 32-yard pass play from Brandon Jackson to Brandon Colston to set up their first score — a three-yard run by Jackson with 8:44 left in the half. Jackson connected with Colston for a two-point conversion to give Chapman an 8-0 lead.
Halstead would again answer, turning to Scott Grider to bolster and seven play, 58-yard drive that featured the junior on five carries — including a 21-yard touchdown and a two-point conversion to give the Dragons the lead back at 14-8 with 6:13 to play.
On the ensuing drive Chapman was able to milk the clock on a 16 drive that ultimately came up five yards short of the end zone as time expired in the half.
Chapman opened up the second half with a nine play, 55-yard drive that found pay dirt when Dalton Harvey found the end zone on a 10-yard run. Chapman did not convert the point after attempt, knotting the score at 14-14.
Halstead opened the fourth quarter with a promising drive — hitting a 19-yard pass thrown by Braden Gerber to Conner Boyd. But that drive stopped dead at the Halstead 30 yard line when Chapman forced and recovered a fumble.
The Irish would make the dragons pay for the mistake eight plays later when Harvey bulled into the end zone from three yards out. Chapman picked up a two-point conversion on a run by Colston after a motion penalty to take the lead, 22-14 with 7:54 left to play.
Halstead needed an answer — badly. They would find it, marching 63 yards on 13 plays. Grider scored from two yards out, followed by a run by Gerber to tie the game at 22-22 with 3:58 to play.
Halstead tried an onside kick — their eyes still on a possible home playoff berth if they could get two quick scores. Chapman recovered the kick, then started marching methodically in an attempt to get the win.
That set the stage for David Schulte to be a hero. On the final play of regulation, Chapman set up for a 30-yard field goal attempt. Schulte blocked the kick as time expired.
“What a great game he had,” Grider said. “Talk about showing a lot of leadership. He showed a ton of leadership tonight. He kept our defense fire up and playing hard. He has had a great, great career and he will get one more chance next week.”
In the first overtime series, Halstead was able to hold Chapman to just five yards. Halstead's offense took the field 10 yards away from a win — and got those 10 yards on two runs by Grider that ended the game and handed Halstead the tough win.
CHS; 0; 8; 6; 8; 0; 22
HHS; 0; 14; 0; 8; 8; 30
11:53; HHS; Kraus, 9 yard run (run failed); 0-6
8:44; CHS; Jackson, 3 yard run (Jackson to Colston); 8-6
6:13; HHS; Grider, 21 yard run (Grider run); 8-14
7:18; CHS; Harvey, 10 yard run (run failed); 14-14
7:54; CHS; Harvey, 3 yard run (Colston run); 22-14
3:58; HHS; Grider, 2 yard run (Gerber run); 22-22.
HHS; Grider, 3 yard run (Grider run); 22-30
Chapman — Harvey 35-122-2, Jackson 23-120-1, Wasylk 3-22-0, Vercher 1-11-0. Totals: 62-275-3. Halstead — Grider 27-134-3, Gerber 6-20-0, Kraus 4-17-1, Odendahl 2-17-0, Casey 2-4-0. Totals: 41-192-4
Chapman — Jackson 3-12-53-0-0. Halstead — Gerber 2-6-36-0-0
Chapman — Colston 2-44-0, Harvey 1-9-0. Halstead — Grider 1-19-0, Pitts 1-25-0.