Cardinals win third straight over Sacred Heart
Oct. 30, 2011 at 5:30 a.m.
HALLETTSVILLE - In rivalries like this, indecision can be costly.
Trailing by two, with 51 seconds remaining and facing a two-point conversion there was no doubt what play Hallettsville Sacred Heart would run in its attempt to tie the score with longtime rivals Shiner St. Paul.
It was going to be a toss right to Sterling Hrncir. That has been Sacred Heart's best play all season. The problem is its opponents knew that and stopped the senior inches short of the goal line to preserve a 14-12 victory Saturday in Hallettsville.
Earlier in the game, Sacred Heart (9-1, 2-1) went for the conversion following Hrncir's 5 yard touchdown midway through the second quarter. One official said Sacred Heart crossed the goalline on the conversion, while another ruled that his knee was down before he crossed the plane.
Regardless, of the indecision between the officials, the Indians were credited for six points - not eight.
St. Paul football coach Paul Johnston described the 50th meeting between the two schools in TAPPS Div. IV District 3 as an emotional rollercoaster. Sacred Heart tight end Cole Wick found the game heartbreaking.
"We had a chance to put it away on offense. We didn't get the right play call on the interception. That is my bad," Johnston said. "We should have done a different wrinkle than what we did."
"They made a great play on it, got a good run back. We talked all week long about what a close game it would be and how big extra points and two-point conversions were going to be."
With less than 90 seconds remaining, the Cardinals (7-2, 2-1) led 14-6 and had the ball inside the Sacred Heart 20-yard line. However, on fourth-and-eight at the Indians 18-yard line, quarterback Dakota Kresta rolled to his right to throw the football across the field to a receiver at the goal line.
Leightin Pilat intercepted Kresta's 19th pass of the afternoon, returning it 75 yards to set up the dramatic conclusion.
"It's depressing when something like that happens and then you end up losing anyway," Wick said. "(Pilat) played a good game. We all played a good game and we did what we could. We just couldn't come up with it in the end."
Sacred Heart completed just four passes on the day, but three of those went to the mammoth Wick, who had at least four inches on every Cardinals defender. Wick's touchdown was a 25-yard prayer from Jared Krischke on third-and-10 to set up Hrncir's conversion attempt.
Despite allowing Wick to have 42 receiving yards and a touchdown Johnston said that was the best his defense has played since a Zero Week victory over Pettus.
Hrncir had 127 rushing yards and a touchdown for the Indians. An offense that used big plays to run by the previous nine opponents had difficulty gaining traction. Matt Holub had just 32 rushing yards, Regan Hall had 10 yards and quarterback Krischke was held to 14 rushing yards.
St. Paul, which has won three straight in this series for the first time since the late 80s, dictated the game offensively in the first half. Two of the Cardinals' four first-half series went for touchdowns, while a third allowed them to pin Sacred Heart deep in its own territory and the fourth resulted in a fumble.
"I thought both defenses played great," said Sacred Heart football coach Pat Henke. "They had a good game plan for us and we had a good game plan for them. Everyone thought this was going to be a shootout and it wound up being a low-scoring game because both defenses played great. We stopped each other."
Brett Hodges' 10-yard run with 7:18 remaining in the second quarter was the difference. Cole Hybner, whose long field goal in the 2009 edition of this rivalry ended the Cardinals 17-game losing streak, nailed both extra points for St. Paul.
St. Paul had just 294 total yards on the day, but it picked them up at opportune times. Adam Hollenbach caught three passes for 106 yards, while Kresta distributed the ball to Martin Kennedy, Justin Natal, Hybner and others to keep Sacred Heart off balance.
"It felt good. It was a whole team effort," said Hodges, one of three seniors on the team. "The whole team worked their tails off to get that win, especially on defense. We played our best defensive game of the year, hands down. We never stopped believing until the end."