Cherokee's resilient Braves, tormented by costly turnovers, a quality opponent, and a tough, physical game that spanned two days, scored a touchdown on their possession in the first overtime period and then added the all-important PAT kick off the toes of big-time kicker Andy Dawson to eke out a tense 21-20 Class 2A District 1 victory over Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley here Saturday afternoon.
The game was suspended after a one-hour delay in the third quarter Friday night, after BHRV rallied to tie the score at 14-14 at halftime with an 80-yard pass interception with 1:25 left in the first half, with the Braves threatening to score a TD inside the Nighthawks' 5-yard line.
The Braves, thanks to a big gainer after a procedure penalty on a 14-yard run to the goal line by quarterback Tyler Jones, then punched it in on third down on a one-yard run by Andy Dawson, who then kicked the winning PAT point.
With Cherokee using its timeouts and threatening to score at the end of first half on Friday, on a play that turned the game and momentum around in favor of BHRV, the Braves were whistled for a mouthpiece infraction (player's mouthpiece not all the way in the mouth, according to the official). After the penalty was stepped off, Cherokee quarterback Tyler Jones had a pass attempt tipped and picked off by defensive back Zach Van Beek, who rambled 76 yards to paydirt. A two-point conversion then tied the score at 14-14 and deflated the Braves heading into halftime. BHRV scored in the first quarter on an eight-yard scamper by Eric Van Ginkel.
But through the first five minutes of the third quarter Friday night, until the game was suspended, the Braves mustered the custard to hang tight, with the defense rising to the occasion time after time against the formidable Nighthawk rushing attack featuring Eric Van Ginkel and Adam Hoogendoorn.
Cherokee's first two TDs came in the second quarter Friday, with Jones and Chris Campbell hooking up on a 71-yard beauty down the middle, and Jones hitting Matt Koch in the end zone on a 14-yard sweetie. Dawson, one of the state's most impressive kickers, added both PATs.
Cherokee QB Tyler Jones had an incredible passing performance with 43 completions in a whopping 63 attempts for 472 yards, despite injuring an ankle shortly before halftime on Friday, and having his bell rung at the end of his big gainer to the goal line in OT Saturday that helped decide the game. Jones also threw four costly interceptions (Cherokee back-up QB Josh Mugge also threw one pick) that helped keep the Braves out of the end zone.
Leading receivers for the Braves' passing offense were Chris Campbell 16 catches for 246 yards and a TD, Michael Boothby nine grabs for 65 yards, Mark Johnson six catches for 57 yards, Koch five catches for 50 yards, Kyle Schuett five grabs for 30 yards, and Josh Mugge, two catches for 25 yards.
The Braves rang up 26 first downs to 13 by BHRV. The visitors were whistled nine times for 85 yards in penalties, and Cherokee five for 45.
BHRV rushed 44 times for 177 yards, with Van Ginkel lugging it 27 times for 85 yards, Hoogendorn carrying it eight times for 78 yards, and Van Beek three times for 24 yards.
Nighthawk QB Josh Vander Maten was 9-16 passing for 81 yards and two TDs, with one pick. Cherokee's Drew Lugar snagged that interception. Vander Maten was pressed into action late in the first half after starting QB Spencer Gort was hospitalized with a severely broken leg.
Nick Loughlin led a stout Cherokee defense with 17 tackles, followed by Tim Jones 15, Ben George 12, Nick Daum 12, Mugge 11, and Dawson nine.
"Our defense did a great job, they were outstanding," said a pleased and relieved Cherokee coach Tony Napierala. "We have to learn to finish the job. We moved the ball into scoring position and then threw interceptions. We have to protect the ball better.
"I Know the guys will work hard this week and we will get it done. We've got some tough kids willing to do what it takes. I'm very proud of the team. This was one very good team that we beat."
The Braves, 1-2 over all and 1-0 in district play, travel to Sibley-Ocheydan Friday to face the 1-2 Generals in district action.