No. 4 D-NH scores 21 unanswered to beat Hawks

JEWELL – The first 2 quarters belonged to South Hamilton Friday night at Taylor Field. The final 1 belonged to Dike-New Hartford.

And what’s that saying about he who laughs last?

Pushed harder than it has been all season, No. 4-ranked Dike-New Hartford – winners of two previous routs leading up to Friday – was forced to rally over the final 16 minutes, as the Wolverines scored 21 unanswered points to turn a 14-7 deficit into a 28-14 victory over the Hawks in Class 1A District 3 action.

Dike-New Hartford (3-0, 1-0), a 2012 state semifinalist and the preseason odds on favorite to claim the district crown, tied the game at 14 with 4:10 left in the third quarter and then scored a pair of long touchdowns in the final period to fend off South Hamilton (2-1, 0-1).

The Wolverines smothered the Hawks a season ago, 34-0, but this time it wasn’t so easy.

“Last year the kids wouldn’t have thought we had a chance against these guys, but this year they believed and they played their hardest football since I’ve been here,” South Hamilton head coach T.J. Schaefer said. “It was still 14-14 going into the fourth quarter, but we got a lot of guys hurt and that’s the way the ball bounces sometimes.”

The biggest loss was Hunter Griffin, a standout at linebacker and on the offensive line. He was injured just before halftime and Schaefer said he’s likely to miss the remainder of the season with a broken ankle.

“Hunter Griffin is a key football player on our team. He’s a warrior for us … he’s one of those kids that you can’t really replace,” Schaefer said. “It just killed him to be out and it’s going to kill him to miss the rest of the season.”

Neither team found much room to operate on the ground. South Hamilton managed just 65 yards on the ground, although both of its touchdowns came via the run. Devin Howard found a small seam into the end zone from three yards out in the first quarter to put the Hawks in front 7-0, and Sam Waid bullied his way to a 4-yard touchdown early in the third quarter to push South Hamilton back ahead, 14-7.

Waid finished with 41 yards on 10 carries, but the Wolverines bottled up the speedy Howard and limited him to just 19 yards on 10 more totes.

Senior quarterback Matt Hislop made good on 9 of 16 passes for 94 yards. He again utilized a bevy of weapons; six different players caught at least one pass and only Zach Zoske (two catches, 23 yards) had multiple receptions.

Dike-New Hartford owned a 292-154 advantage in total offense, much of it coming from all-district quarterback Carson Parker. He completed 15 of 20 passes for 232 yards and one touchdown on a 67-yard strike to Preston Wheat with 10:43 remaining that put the Wolverines ahead to stay, 21-14.

“Parker is a great quarterback. He makes a lot of guys miss and he’s very hard to bring down,” Schaefer said. “Unfortunately we had a slip-up in our coverage on a key play that ended up going 67 yards for a touchdown.”

Ben Cuvelier broke free on a 48-yard touchdown run with 4:37 to go that sealed the win for the Wolverines. He also punched it in from six yards out in the third quarter.

“Those two touchdowns in the fourth quarter killed us; just blown responsibilities,” Schaefer said.

Parker also had a rushing touchdown – a 1-yard burst late in the second quarter.

Garrett Evans led the South Hamilton defense with nine tackles. Trevor Ullestad finished with five.

Dike-New Hartford has now won 14 consecutive regular season games. Its last loss was a 21-14 setback against St. Ansgar on Oct. 7, 2011.

The Hawks won’t get much of a breather on Friday when they travel to Hudson for a 7 p.m. contest. The Pirates (2-1, 1-0) dominated ninth-ranked Aplington-Parkersburg 30-12 in Week 3 and have won back-to-back games after opening the season with a loss to Gladbrook-Reinbeck.

“It’s going to be a battle,” Schaefer said. “They like to throw the ball a lot – they’re a pure spread offense – so we’re going to have a lot of work to do for Hudson this week and our defensive backs are really going to have to step up.”