MINNEAPOLIS — In what would be a pivotal second quarter during its state semifinal against Mountain Iron-Buhl, Hancock twice began drives pinned at its own 1-yard line.
With disaster at their backs and momentum potential swinging toward their opponents, the Owls remained calm and and lined up knowing what they needed to execute.
“Do what we’ve been doing, don’t let the safety happen,” senior fullback Dalton Rose said, describing the mentality inside the huddle. “Just had a little more drive probably; didn’t want them scoring on us and we needed points, so we pushed forward.”
Finishing a pair of 99-yard drives for touchdowns, the Owls went on to a 65-32 victory Thursday from U.S. Bank Stadium.
With the victory, Hancock faces Mountain Lake Area in the state 9-Man Prep Bowl at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 30, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The Wolverines advanced with a 45-6 blowout against Win-E-Mac in the second state semifinal Friday.
Tied 6-6 at the end of the first quarter, the Owls outscored the Rangers 24-8 before halftime.
“This team, I couldn’t be more prouder,” head coach Chad Christianson said. “We talk about not flinching. We’ve gotten scored on early, and nobody looks around and says: ‘Who made that missed block?’ Or: ‘Who made the missed tackle?’ or what it might have been. They did a nice job of recovering and going to the next play.”
In the early moments of the second quarter after a Mountain Iron-Buhl drive stalled inside Hancock territory, Dillon Drake downed an Aidan Bissonette punt at the Owls 1-yard line, snatching the ball before it rolled past the goalline.
In two plays, Hancock immediately established breathing room. Plowing through for a 5-yard run on first down, senior running back Tyler Timmerman took a second-down pitch before spinning away from a tackler and dashing toward the sideline for a 45-yard scamper.
Methodically marching down the field with an 11-play drive, the Owls put points on the board when junior quarterback Preston Rohloff connected with fellow junior Brandon Kellenberger on a 19-yard corner route.
Following a Timmerman 75-yard kickoff return touchdown midway through the period, the team’s second 99-yard drive late in the first half eclipsed just 26 seconds off the play clock. On second down, sophomore Jed Feuchtenberger ran the ball to the Hancock 15-yard line before Rohloff tossed his second touchdown of the quarter. Faking a toss to the right, the junior hit senior wide receiver Daniel Milander down the middle of the field for an 85-yard score.
That drive was set up by Kellenberger, who brought down the first of his two second-quarter interceptions on an underthrown ball from quarterback Asher Zubich.
While the offense went the length of the field twice, the defense didn’t allow any points and relinquish 35 yards in the period.
“It was a great feeling, just to be able to get back there and know that you are stopping them. It was awesome,” Kellenberger said.
“We just went to cover two and (Zubich) was just throwing the ball up. And you just get back there and it was an easy jump ball, I guess.”