Santa Fe did not play disciplined, committing 13 penalties for almost 100 yards, and while Torre wasn’t bad, tossing for 197 yards and a touchdown, he certainly wasn’t Hansen. The Wolves also committed the game’s only turnover, which eventually led to the Tigers’ final touchdown.
What NHS did was accept the Wolves’ gifts and not hurt itself along the way.
“We never shot ourselves in the foot tonight. We know as a team that we definitely had to minimize turnovers and mistakes because that’s what beat us the last three games,” Nation said. “We really had to come together tonight and play a complete ballgame. Our playoffs started tonight.”
The game changed in the middle of the third quarter when, back to pass, Dean eluded about four would-be sackers before breaking free for a 35-yard run that became a 65-yard gain after a late hit out of bounds on one side of the field and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Santa Fe bench on the other.
A moment later, Dean hit Cade Parker for a 9-yard touchdown, good for a 14-7 lead and control of the game that would not be relinquished.
“Something good happened for us,” Nation said. “So much bad has happened to us the last three weeks with the injuries and balls not bouncing our way, and we just needed good things to happen to us and tonight it did.
“Not just breaks. Our kids played their hearts out.”
After Dean found Parker, the Tiger defense turned in a three-and-out, and the Tiger offense went on its most impressive drive of the night, going 58 yards in eight plays, with Smith adding his second score from a yard out.
Tight end Cal Shone, who set Smith up at the 1 with a 22-yard catch, added NHS’ final touchdown, a 7-yard grab with 5:53 remaining.
“I’m proud of my team,” Dean said.
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