Helena takes unbeaten Jackson-Olin to overtime

Published 12:56 am Saturday, October 20, 2018

By JEREMY RAINES | For the Reporter

Helena – On Youth Appreciation Night at Husky Stadium, Helena head coach Richie Busby and his Helena Huskies looked to build off their three-game winning streak as they welcomed an undefeated and Class 6A Region 5 leading Jackson-Olin Mustangs team.

This is the first time the two teams have ever met, and with so much excitement and momentum rolling for the Huskies, the match-up was shaping up to be a thriller, despite the difference in records, in large part due to their defense.

That was summed up in the first half completely, as both defenses showed they were the strong suit of their respective team leading to a 0-0 halftime tie, which was a sign of the excitement to come.

While the first half was exciting, the second half was exciting in a different way.

Jackson-Olin set the tone, as an impressive 11-play 61-yard drive was capped off by a 6-yard touchdown pass by the Mustang’s running back. After a successful 2-point conversion, Jackson-Olin took an 8-0 lead with five minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Shortly after this touchdown, Helena found itself pinned deep in its own territory facing a fourth down. A mishandled snap in the Huskies’ end zone by the punter forced an attempt to try and run the ball out.

The Mustangs’ defense was quick to wrap up the punter, forcing what appeared to be a safety, but after confusion by the two nearby referees, was determined to be down at the half-yard line.

This critical decision was soon followed-up by an easy touchdown run and successful 2-point conversion by the Mustangs to give them a 16-0 lead at the end of the third quarter.

Beginning the fourth quarter up 16-0, the Mustangs seemed to have taken the energy right out of the Huskies as the crowd got quiet and the defense began to show signs of exhaustion.

But Helena’s offense quickly turned that energy back around for the home crowd. The Huskies put up a great drive which again included a great reception by tight end Chris Miller on a pass from Luke Stamba.

The Huskies went on to put together a quick five-play 76-yard drive that was capped off by a 5-yard diving touchdown run from Tucker Knight whose dive was just enough to knock down the pylon to finally get the Huskies on the board. On a trickery style 2-point conversion play, Helena was able to trim the deficit to one possession at 16-8 with 10:31 left to play.

On Jackson-Olin’s very next drive, senior defensive back Matt Mezerany made an incredible interception for Helena as he dove backwards to keep the momentum rolling for the Huskies, but the Huskies were unable to capitalize on the turnover.

After catching a break with a penalty, Helena was able to get the ball back again shortly after and didn’t miss the opportunity to capitalize this time, as a great run by sophomore running back Marquise Johnson closed the Mustang lead to just two points with a score of 16-14. Helena failed to convert the 2-point conversion attempt with a pass to Miller in the end zone, but the Huskies caught another big break as a roughing the passer call gave them another opportunity. The Huskies were able to successfully get into the end zone on the second attempt to tie up the game 16-16 with just 3:23 left in the game, which eventually led to overtime.

Helena got the first crack on offense in overtime, but ended up missing a field goal attempt.

Jackson-Olin took advantaged and scored quickly on its offensive possession, punching in a game-ending touchdown run to pull off the slim victory by the final score of 22-16.

Helena finished with 267 total yards on the night, (66 passing / 201 rushing), with 15 first downs. The Mustangs finished with 187 total yards on offense, but the wildest stat for the Jackson-Olin team was their penalty stats, as the Mustangs had 14 penalties for 140 yards against them.

The Huskies fall to 3-5 overall, while the Mustangs improved to 8-0.

Helena will now take on Pelham for the fourth-place spot in the region and a berth in the playoffs on Friday, Oct. 26.