Humboldt shows flair for dramatic
Wildcats score late to down Nevada in slugfest and clinch district title
HUMBOLDT — Humboldt’s high-powered offense struggled in a matchup of unbeatens here on Friday, but the Wildcat defense came up big when it mattered most.
Fourth-ranked Humboldt (8-0 overall, 4-0 3A-2) scored with under a minute left in regulation to prevail in a 19-15 slugfest versus No. 7 Nevada (7-1, 3-1).
The Wildcats officially wrapped up their first district championship since 2012 after Algona lost to Ballard.
Heads up play by senior quarterback Caden Matson kept the late scoring drive alive. With the ball on their own 21-yard line, facing a fourth-and-six, Matson gave a hard count, drawing the Cubs off sides.
Matson then dove forward for the first down on 4th-and-1.
On the ensuing play in the final minute, Matson connected with junior Will Orness on a 15-yard scoring pass to put the Wildcats up 18-15. Trever Beach added the extra-point to put the pressure on Nevada.
The Wildcats committed an uncharacteristic six turnovers on the evening. Their defense answered the bell time and time again, though, keeping the Cubs from capitalizing.
Orness came up with a big interception in the fourth quarter, returning it about 50 yards into Humboldt territory. It was his second pick of the game.
“Our defensive coaches had a great gameplan…the kids trusted it and did a great job,” Elman said. “The way our guys play for each other is something special.
“This group has worked their tails off, and were ready and willing to take whatever Nevada threw at them. I am so proud of this team.”
Matson plunged into the end zone to give the Wildcats a 12-7 lead after Nevada held a 7-6 halftime advantage.
“Will did such a good job,” Elman said. “He’s really proving that he’s one of the best receivers in the state. We needed him to step up some on defense, too, and he was ready when his number was called.”
Matson was 9-for-19 for 117 yards. He had 24 carries for 196 yards.
Orness had eight grabs for 109 yards. Lance Coon scored the first touchdown, running in from eight yards out.
Nolan Lammers led Humboldt on defense with nine tackles.
“The defense just was outstanding,” Elman said. “We put them in a lot of bad spots with turnovers, but they responded.”
Humboldt will finish the regular season at home against Algona.