The magical ride continues for the never-say-die Cherokee football team as the gritty Braves tallied two crucial touchdowns in the fourth quarter to claim a 28-18 Class 2A Distict victory over dangerous Humboldt here Friday night.
The big win in the cold and slop of rainy George Hicks Field keeps the Braves on the march to another State Playoff berth with a shiny 6-2 record, including a 5-1 District mark.
The key to the Braves big win here Friday was the return of fleet senior Nick Parker, who has missed most of the season with a shoulder injury. Parker made his presence known in a hurry here Friday night, scoring on a scintillating 61-yard touchdown on a sweet double reverse in the second quarter, and then hooking up with senior quarterback Matt Pitts on a mind-blowing 91-yard TD pass from Pitts that sealed the deal. Not done, Parker then caught the two-point conversion pass from Pitts to ice the game for the Braves.
Humboldt took a 6-0 lead in the first quarter by controlling the ball with a bruising ground game, culminating in a 10-yard TD pass from QB Dane Nelson to Andrew Swan.
Cherokee scored two TDs in the second period to take a 14-12 halftime lead, with Dan Bieber scoring on a one-yard run, and Parker's 61-yard thriller. Pitts ran in from 12 yards out for the Braves first fourth-quarter TD, and then came Parker's icing catch and run for 91 yards after fielding a short pass from PItts. Cherokee's first PAT kick failed, and then Cutter Carlson knifed in for a two-point conversion, the third PAT conversion effort failed, and then Pitts hit Parker for the two-pointer.
The Braves rushed 23 times for 142 yards in the game, with Parker leading the way with four hauls for 79 yards, Carlson rushing five times for 28 yards, and Pitts rushing five times for 23 yards. Pitts was 6-15 passing in the wet weather for 159 yards and one TD, and Humboldt QB Dane Nelson was 3-10 for 66 yards. The Wildcats rushed a whopping 59 times for 201 yards, with Thilges leading the way with 33 hauls for 116 yards.
Dan Bieber led a solid Cherokee defense with 16 tackles, followed by Alanzo Ruble with 12, Nick Keith and Schuck 11 apiece, and Seth Mahnke 10. Cody Ege and Schuck had interceptions for the Braves.
"We hung in there," said Cherokee co-head coach Kurt Reynolds. "The first quarter they ran the ball right down our throats, but then we made some adjustments and calmed down, and we got better as the game went on.
Humboldt is now 4-4 over all and 3-3 in the District.