UNI-DOME BOUND! Humboldt wins 34-26 thriller against Independence, advance to 3A Semifinals

Photo courtesy of Rick Thompson

By: Matt Scher, matts@977thebolt.com

Humboldt, IA – The Humboldt Wildcats are heading to the UNI-Dome for the second consecutive season, an achievement never before accomplished in school history until Humboldt’s 34-26 win over Independence Friday night at Mason Maach Field.

The Cats received the first half kickoff after the Mustangs deferred to the second half. Humboldt got things started in the first quarter of play at the 10:24 mark with quarterback Will Orness (Sr.) finding Corey Dettman (Jr.) for 46 yards. The Cats led 7-0 at the end of the first stanza, but would pick things up again in the second quarter at the 11:46 mark after Lance Coon (Jr.) broke free for his 20th rushing touchdown on the season. The Mustangs would counter with 33 seconds left in the first half after the Cats went up 14-0, with quarterback Mitchell Johnson (Sr.) using his legs for 8 yards to find the end zone, but kicker Daniel Bass (Sr.) missed the PAT to put the score at 14-6 Humboldt at the half.

The Cats would answer back with Orness finding Trever Beach (Sr.) in the end zone at 4:48 left in the third to give the Cats a 20-6 lead after Beach missed the pat.  Mustangs running back Trey Weber (Jr.) would answer the aerial connection with a 10-yard rush to find the end zone, with Bass’ extra point no good again, setting the score at 20-12 Humboldt with 33 seconds left in the third quarter.

The fourth quarter saw Johnson find receiver Keelan Hoover (Sr.) in the end zone to get the Mustangs within 2 points at 20-18, and after an attempt to tie the game on a two-point conversion, Ty Gargano (Sr.) stopped the threat by thwarting Drew Beatty (Jr.) in the offensive backfield. With the Cats leading by two, Orness found a familiar connection in Dettman for 54 yards to give the Cats a 27-18 lead with 3:52 remaining in regulation.

The Mustangs were not done, driving down the field and capping off the drive with Johnson completing an 8-yard pass to Brady Kurt (So.) in the end zone to make it 27-24 Humboldt with 2:03 left.  On the ensuing drive, Humboldt would answer again with Coon, this time for 42 yards. The Cats led the game 34-24 with 1:54 remaining.

After taking over deep in their own end, Coon was tackled in the end zone for a safety to make it 34-26 with 21 seconds left. After the safety punt to the Mustangs, Orness put the final nail in the coffin on defense with an interception of a Johnson pass.

With the win, the Humboldt Wildcats are now off to the UNI-Dome to play Mount Vernon next Saturday in the Class 3A Semifinals.