Another opportunity lost
Hawks come up short in overtime against Wolverines
October 5, 2023
Prior to the overtime period in Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn's game on Sept. 29 at South O'Brien, Hawk coach Jay Eilers challenged his team to not take "no" for an answer and earn the win.
The Hawks responded in the extra period, scoring on a 10-yard run by James Gellerman. But the two-point conversion attempt failed and H-M-S had to settle for a six-point lead.
South O'Brien tied the score on an eight-yard pass and then untied it with a PAT, giving them the 29-28 victory.
"I think we played hard at times," Eilers said after H-M-S fell to 0-6. "You have an opportunity to stack positive plays. You have opportunities to stack positive games and we're not having that opportunity within our program right now."
The overtime period reflected the back-and-forth flow of the Class A District 1 game. The Wolverines scored on a 47-yard pass during their opening possession. They then intercepted a pass in H-M-S territory, but the Hawks stopped them on third down and blocked the punt.
Late in the first quarter, runs by Gellerman and Jack Mastbergen advanced the ball into Wolverine territory. Mastbergen then connected with Gellerman for an eight-yard pass to tie the score 6-6.
The Wolverines regained the lead on a 34-yard pass midway through the second quarter. Despite two turnovers by the Hawks, South O'Brien could not add to their 14-6 advantage before the intermission.
H-M-S received the second-half kickoff. Gellerman capped the 10-play drive with a short scoring run and added the conversion to tie the score at 14-14. South O'Brien went back in front, 22-14, on a 29-yard scoring pass with 6:56 left in the fourth quarter.
A 28-yard scramble by Mastbergen set up another scoring run by Gellerman. His conversion run tied the score at 22-22 with 3:36 left in regulation. The Wolverines drove into Hawk territory before turning the ball over on downs. H-M-S ran out the clock to send the game into overtime.
"I was proud of our kids to put it into overtime. I was proud of our kids getting the touchdown in overtime," Eilers said. "We had miscommunication on the two-point conversion. I thought we had a great opportunity there. We just came up short."
Gellerman has become the workhorse of the offense. Following up on his 177-yard rushing performance against Kingsley-Pierson, Gellerman ran for 135 yards on Friday.
"I thought James ran hard," Eilers noted. "We're asking everything from him right now. The thing I can say is I know that kid gives us that."
Mastbergen added 80 rushing yards. He also completed a 14-yard pass to Evan Eilers and a six-yard pass to Jayden Leth.
Gellerman topped the defense with nine total tackles. Other tackle leaders were Ethan Wiersma 4.0, Jr Araiza 3.5, Bradley Van Beek and Eilers 3.0, Slayton McCarter and Adam Schierholz 2.5, and Ethan Huberg 2.0, including a tackle for loss.
• Next up: vs. Sibley-Ocheyedan
Teams coming off one-point losses will square off Oct. 6 at Peterson Field. Sibley-Ocheyedan fell last week to Gehlen Catholic, 21-20, and is 2-3 in district play.
"I think Sibley-Ocheyedan's going to be a tough test," Eilers acknowledged. "They do a good job of being balanced. They run the ball but then they throw the ball well, too."
Getting pressure on the opposing quarterback and making plays on the ball are keys for the Hawk defense. Another key is the Hawks' approach to the contest.
"We're going to ask our kids to come back and focus on the opportunities in front of them. This is an opportunity for us to go out as a team and as a family," Eilers said. "We'll do our best. I know that. I know our kids will. I know our coaches will."