Mike Stetson, Sports Information Director
FOREST CITY – The Warriors put up a great fight, but on a blustery fall day, Waldorf just couldn’t finish off the visiting Saints.
Waldorf battled out of an early hole to take the lead, and had chances late at a game-winning score only to fall 44-38 to Presentation at Bolstorff Field in North Star Athletic Association football.
“I was proud of the way the kids battled after being down early in the gusty wind,” Waldorf head football coach Josh Littrell said.
“When we take the lead after being down 16 points, we have to be able to keep the lead,” he added.
Battling a head-wind of more than 25 mph and the Presentation defense, Waldorf took the opening kick-off and marched to the Saints’ 15 in a 10-plus minute drive that stalled on a penalty, leaving the Warriors pointless.
That swung momentum to the Saints, who scored 16 straight points playing with the wind at their back.
But when the teams changed ends to start the second quarter, the wind blew the momentum to the Warriors side.
On the first play with the wind on its side, Waldorf (3-5 overall, 3-2 NSAA) hit a 56-yard pass from Hilton Joseph to Ryan Martinez, setting up a series of quick-strike scores.
Joseph finished off the 65-yard drive that took 1:28 off the clock with a 6-yard touchdown toss to Don Jones.
A quick three-and-out put the ball back in Joseph’s hands and the Warrior QB wasted no time, scrambling up the middle of the field for a 62-yard touchdown, cutting the Presentation lead to 16-14.
Now with the wind and momentum both on Waldorf’s side, the Warriors again stopped Presentation on three straight plays to put the ball back in the offenses hands and Joseph capped a 4-play, 60-yard drive with a 24-yard scoring toss to Jones for a 21-16 lead.
“We got out and were on fire; scored 21 points in the second quarter,” Littrell said.
Then the game turned into a see-saw battle with the Saints (5-3, 3-2) grabbing a pair of nine-point leads, but Waldorf tried to answer.
The Warriors looked poised to do just that early in the fourth quarter, down 37-31 but driving. Waldorf had first-and-goal at the Saints’ 7, and overcome a penalty to set up a fourth-and-goal from the 1 after an 18-yard quarterback draw by Joseph.
Looking to retake the lead, Waldorf handed the ball to Bo Evans who came mere inches away from putting his team on top, but when the officials unpiled the players, they ruled that the Warrior drive had been stopped just shy of the goal-line.
“I should have called a time-out,” Littrell said, “that was on me.
“I still think we got the ball across the plane, but we came up short.”
Presentation responded with a drive that stalled, but a fumbled punt return put the ball back in the Saints hands and they cashed in with a touchdown for a 44-31 lead midway through the fourth.
Waldorf closed one final time as Joseph hit Jones for their third touchdown connection, but the Saints ran out the clock on their ensuing possession to ice the win.
Joseph finished with 142 yards and a touchdown on the ground on 15 carries, and he threw for 335 yards and four TDs, completing 24-of-36 passes.
Huntley caught eight of those passes for 75 yards and a score, while Jones caught five passes for 65 yards and three scores.
The loss puts the Warriors into a three-way tie with Presentation and Valley City State in the NSAA standings, each one game back of Dickinson State.
The Warriors now hit the road for a rematch with Dakota State next Saturday before finishing off the 2018 season by hosting Mayville State for Homecoming on Nov. 3.
“We’re going to finish strong, we have great kids and we’re going to keep playing through the end of the season,” Littrell said.