Titans’ comeback win keeps them in postseason hunt
SEELEY LAKE – You’d almost have to believe that the Seeley Swan Blackhawks would have been the victim of Jason Voorhees than the Flint Creek Titans.
Yeah, Friday the 13th turned out just that bad for the Blackhawks.
In a game that proved to be an epic comeback for the squad from Granite County, the Titans rallied back from a 10-point deficit to claim a 26-22 victory Friday night on the road.
The win improves Flint Creek to 5-3 on the year with one game left on their regular season schedule. And thanks to Manhattan Christian beating Choteau 36-24, the Titans are now in position to make the postseason with a win over Simms October 20 in Drummond. The winner of that game will finish 6-3 and claim the third playoff spot out of the Central Division and face the West’s No. 1 seed, which will likely be Arlee who defeated Valley Christian 34-25 Friday night at home.
The Blackhawks fall to 3-5 with the loss.
Seeley started the game in dominating fashion as their blocking schemes and running game left Flint Creek back on its heels. It culminated its opening drive with a 15-yard touchdown run from Cannon Hawkinson and two-point conversion that gave the Blackhawks an 8-0 lead.
“We didn’t pick up blitzing linebackers and dumb penalties and that can get ya,” said Titans Head Coach Jason Ostler. “We’ve had some consistency issues up front where we’re not preparing kids and we’re going to work on fixing that.”
That margin lasted seconds into the second period when Titan running back Logan Hauptman punched the ball in from three yards out. The conversion failed and Flint Creek trailed 8-6.
It took the Blackhawks just a minute to respond, as Seth Dunster ran the ball in from short range to give Seeley a 14-6 margin.
Seeley tried a pooch kick on the ensuing kickoff which was recovered by Flint Creek’s Austin Knoeller on his own 33 yard line. The very next play freshman quarterback Jake Dauenhuer hit Eric Pitcher across the middle and the junior turned it into a 47-yard scoring play. The Titans again missed the extra point and trailed by two, 14-12.
The teams traded possessions after that, with the Blackhawks making another stop at 5:25 on downs. Seeley struck again before the end of the half, with Blake Irwin hitting Kolten Zurmuehlen with a 43-yard scoring pass that put them up 22-12 at intermission.
As play started in the second half, it was clear that something had change in the Titans. Their play was harder, their stops more frequent, and Seeley’s ability to control the tempo was gone.
The momentum started shifting when Flint Creek stopped Seeley on their first possession of the third quarter and then had Hauptman score his third TD of the night on a two-yard dive. He rammed in the conversion and the Titans were down 22-20.
Despite the change in the Titan defense, Seeley took the ball down to the goal line on their final possession of third period and were poised to start the fourth with another score. But that’s when the Flint Creek defense took over in full. The surge included a number of key tackles and an interception by Pitcher that stopped the Blackhawks cold.
“First of all, a lot of credit to the D-line for putting pressure on the quarterback,” said Pitcher. “Paul (Kulaski) told me in practice to line up like I’m comin’ (on a blitz) and then drop back to try and pick off a flat (pass). I saw that guy coming in underneath and I was just in the right place.”
“(We got) more aggressive with the D-line and gave them less responsibility,” added Flint Creek’s Ostler. “We had them shooting gaps a little more and they did well.”
The Titans held off a four-play salvo from the Blackhawks at the goal line, taking over on downs at their own six.
“I watched a lot of film on them to see what their line does,” said junior defensive lineman Chance Dunkerson, “It was a team effort. It wasn’t just a single person. We really held that line good and backed our spine up.”
On their first play of the drive, Daunhuer appeared to hand the ball to Hauptman who raced into the line. Everyone thought he had the ball, except Hauptman and Daunhuer, who scampered around the end and was gone for what should have been a 74-yard touchdown. But the officials had blown the play dead, believing – like literally everyone else in the stadium – that Hauptman still had the ball.
Not to be deterred, the Titans worked the ball down the field until Dauenhuer got his rushing TD from five yards out to give the Titans their final margin, 26-22.
Seeley Swan attempted one final drive, but the Flint Creek defense held yet again. And as they tried to run the clock down, Dauenhuer hit senior Trey Phillips with an over the shoulder pass on 4th and 17 to secure the victory.
Dauenhuer finished 9-for-13 in the air for 163 yards and one touchdown. He also had the game winning rushing touchdown late in the fourth to finish with two on the night. Pitcher had the scoring catch and had five total receptions for 100 yards.
Logan Hauptman continued to run the ball well, carrying the rock 33 times for 133 yards and a score.
Hauptman was also the top defender with 10 total stops. Pitcher had the game’s only interception for Flint Creek.
Flint Creek – 0/12/8/6 – 26
Seeley Swan – 8/14/0/0 – 22
8:21 SS Hawkinson 15 yd run TD. Irwin to Gonzales pass.
11:55 FC Dauenhuer 3 yd run TD. Pass failed.
10:59 SS Dunster 5 yd run TD. Hawkinson run.
10:48 FC Daunhuer 47 yd pass to Pitcher TD. Run failed.
4:27 SS Irwin 43 yd pass to Zurmuehlen TD. Pass failed.
3:38 FC Hauptman 2 yd run TD. Hauptman run.
5:38 FC Daunhuer 5 yd run TD. Run failed.
NOTEBOOK – Flint Creek’s win over Seeley Swan marks the ninth time in 10 seasons that the Titans have beaten the Blackhawks. The two squads did not meet during the 2021 season. … Over Flint Creek’s 10-year history, they have outscored Seeley Swan collectively 504-78, an average of 56.0 to 8.7. … The Blackhawks’ 22 points Friday night is their highest score ever against the Titans, while Flint Creek’s 26 is the lowest. … Previously Seeley Swan had never held a lead against the Titans later than the first quarter. They did so on two previous occasions in 2019 and 2017. Friday’s night’s lead lasted until 5:38 of the fourth quarter, or 42:22 into the game. … The Blackhawks have not beaten a Granite County team since 2013 when they defeated the Granite Prospectors 56-26 in Philipsburg. According to Max Preps, Seeley has never beaten the Drummond Trojans dating back to the 2004 season. … Overall the Blackhawks are 2-16 against Granite County teams since 2004. They are 0-9 against Flint Creek, 2-3 against Granite, and 0-4 against Drummond.