Some games it's hard to put one's finger on the defining moments. The Halstead Dragons' victory over the Pratt High School Greenbacks on Halstead's homecoming night was not one of those.
There were key events in each half that tipped the fortunes in the Dragons' favor to the point they were able to come away with a 26-13 win over the Frogs.
The tone was set on the initial drive of the contest. Halstead marched the ball right down the field against the Pratt defense.
The 57 yard drive culminated in a 1 yard touchdown plunge by Halstead QB Jonah McKee. That put the Greenbacks in catch-up mode, and they would stay there all night.
Pratt, down 6-0, drove the ball, primarily on runs by Anthony Cannata, until they had it deep in Dragon territory. But they failed to capitalize in the red zone, turning it over on downs.
Halstead moved the ball deep into Pratt territory before the defense stiffened and the Greenbacks took over on downs.
Then came one of the key turning points in the game. A Halstead interception gave them a short field, and they quickly punched in another TD to go up two scores, 12-0, with 2:15 left in the half.
The Frogs tried to get one of the scores back before halftime. Brandon Ruckle hauled in a 19 yard pass that took Pratt to midfield. But the drive again fizzled and the first half was over.
Receiving the second half kick-off, Pratt moved the ball and got their first score of the night. Among the big plays were a Robby Eggleston and Anthony Cannata hook- and- lateral that went for big yards.
QB Skylar Dean capped off the drive with a 10 yard run, and then the 5 yard TD on a second and goal at the 8:29 mark of the third frame..
Pratt appeared to have some wind in its sails at that point, having cut the deficit to one score. But Halstead would have none of it, methodically employing their option offense to drive 65 yards for another score and an 18-6 lead.
Pratt moved the ball well again, this time through the air. Passes to Ryan Landry and Shawn Ramos were mixed with some runs to get the ball to the Halstead 1 yard line as the 3rd quarter ended.
After a change of ends, Pratt was unable to punch it in, at least partly because of a penalty pushing them out of the goalpost's shadow.
After the turnover on downs, Pratt then recovered a fumble on the 12 yard line, but was unable to score yet again.
The defense held and after the Halstead punt, Pratt had the ball on their own 36. Pass plays to Landry and Ruckle got the Greenbacks within striking distance, and finally a 25 yard Dean to Ramos pass got Pratt back on the board. 18-13 Halstead following the PAT with about 8 minutes left to play.
Page 2 of 2 - With Pratt needing to hold Halstead and get the ball back, the second half turning point occurred. At the 4:31 mark, Jonah McKee again got loose and scampered for a 75 yard touchdown romp that was, in essence, the backbreaker. That put Pratt down two scores again, 26-13 after a two pt. conversion.
Pratt refused to capitulate and mounted still another drive, the most notable play a Drake Evert to Dean pass that took the ball to the Halstead 30.
But the Dragons held once again, took over on downs, and with Pratt being out of time-outs, were able to run out the clock.
Pratt played better against Halstead this time than in any of their other recent meetings, but their inability to capitalize in the red zone and a couple of big plays by the Dragons doomed Pratt to defeat.
With a record of 3-2, Pratt will host Hesston for homecoming Friday.
Pratt 0 0 6 7 13
Halstead 6 6 6 8 26
1st downs Pratt 15 Halstead 19
Rushing Pratt 34/112 Halstead 54/385
Passing Pratt 13/33/208 yds/1 int Halstead 3/7/18
Dean 10/41/1 TD
Dean 12/33/181/1 int/1 TD
Ramos 4/48/1 TD