How can a team win a football game when the opponent has 264 more yards of offense, 14 more first downs, and eight minutes more with the ball?
The Goessel High School football team found out Thursday after defeating Pretty Prairie on the road, 52-44.
“We made some big stops on defense at critical times,” GHS head coach Justin Coup said.
That is only part of the answer.
A fumble recovery killing a long drive and an interception in the middle of the fourth quarter helped the Bluebirds overcome steady progress by the Bulldog offense.
Sixty-two percent passing from senior Austin Unruh to four different receivers for 209 yards and four touchdowns, helped the Bluebirds score several times from long distances.
A quick defense which made 69 tackles with five different players recording six solo tackles or more, helped hold the Pretty Prairie defense at bay.
Goessel’s win allowed Claflin to advance from District 4 in the eight-man Division I, while Pretty Prairie’s season came to an end.
In a defensive battle in the first quarter, Goessel got on the scoreboard with a 14-yard touchdown from Craig Banman with eight minutes to play. Banman kicked the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
Pretty Prairie scored shortly after the second quarter started and scored again five minutes later to take the lead, 14-7.
With five minutes, 10 seconds left in the half, Unruh completed a pass to Cameron Stultz for a 54-yard touchdown, and a pass to Travis Fensky for the extra points, which gave the lead back to the Bluebirds, 15-14.
The Bulldogs finished a drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass with 1:17 to play in the half, this time taking a seven-point lead.
However, Banman took the kickoff 70 yards for a score and Pretty Prairie led 22-21 heading into the halftime break.
The second half started with a quick score as Unruh found tight end Weston Hiebert open in the end zone to give the Bluebirds the lead.
Kendall Voth snagged a pass for the extra points and Goessel led 29-22.
The home team kept grinding out first downs and the Bulldogs scored twice on runs of two yards and three yards to re-gain the advantage, 36-29.
One minute later the Bluebirds scored on a trick play that gave the visitors some enthusiasm.
Unruh found Voth on a pass play, but Voth pitched the ball back to a sprinting Fensky who went 47 yards for a touchdown.
The score at the end of the third quarter found the Bluebirds ahead, 37-36.
Banman scored again in the fourth quarter, after a time consuming drive and the Bluebirds led 45-36.
Hiebert stepped in front of a Pretty Prairie pass and turned the interception into Bulldog territory.
Unruh found a wide-open Stultz in the end zone from 10 yards out for a touchdown, and Banman’s kick gave the Bluebirds a two-touchdown lead, 52-36 with 3:40 left in the game.
The Bulldogs marched down the field and scored with 1:22 left on the clock and made the two-point conversion, cutting the lead to 52-44.
An onside kick attempt failed and Goessel was able to run out the clock for the victory.
Defensively, Hiebert had seven solo tackles and two fumble recoveries to go along with his key interception.
Stultz recorded eight solo tackles with Banman, Unruh, and Fensky each getting six.
Goessel takes home the championship honors from District 4 with a 6-0 district record and 9-0 overall record.