Sep. 3—HETTINGER — The Hettinger-Scranton Nighthawks took on the South Border Mustangs in an offensive battle September 2 at their home field in Hettinger.
With two key players out due to injury, they were unable to pull together for the win and came up short, 14-40.
The Hawks kicked off the game with an early 8-0 lead and maintained their power until the conclusion of the second when the Mustangs took a 6-point lead.
With junior running back/linebacker Maddox Pierce and running back/linebacker Jaron Frank absent from the game, the Hawks were forced to shift their lineup around and plug different players into spots they were unfamiliar with.
"It's hard to put a squad together when you don't have the pieces," Kirby Cagle, Hettinger-Scranton co-assistant coach said. "They played well tonight with what we had. The defense can't put up 40 points and expect to win. This doesn't reflect how the Night Hawks are going to play for the rest of the season. It's just a hiccup."
In an effort to retaliate to the Mustangs offensive passing game, the Hawks performed a series of blitz plays and gang tackles. With 29 seconds left in the first half, the Mustangs scored again and were successful on their 2-point conversion attempt to elevate their lead to 22-8.
As the night progressed, Hettinger-Scranton's butter-finger fumbles were recovered by South Border. The game became sloppy with penalties on both sides. A short kick to open up the third put the Mustangs on the 44-yard line, but a fumble shortly thereafter was the opportunity the Hawks had been waiting for. They were unable to capitalize on the fumble however, and continued to be dominated by the Mustangs offensive line.
At the start of the fourth, the Mustangs lost a crucial player to injury. Their 220-pound sophomore defensive lineman Shane Nitschke was hit by a helmet in the back and collapsed. He was carted away on a back board and transported to the nearest hospital via ambulance. The accident threw the Mustangs off their A game, allowing Tristan Pekas to bring in a touch down for the Hawks. Still down by 14, they had a lot of work to do with only a little time left.
With a burst of adrenaline, the Mustangs plowed through the Hawks defensive line. They continued to rack up touchdown passes and runs, which the Hawks were ultimately unable to mirror. With this loss, the Hawks record decreases to 1-2. Pierce and Frank are expected to return to the field within the next few weeks.
"The Mustangs are physical. They are big, fast and strong," Jason LeFebre, Hettinger-Scranton head coach said. "Unfortunately, we came out with the short end of the stick. We made a few bone-head mistakes and penalties."
Hettinger-Scranton stats were not yet available at the conclusion of the game.