Ian Halle’s 9-yard touchdown with 3 minutes and 50 seconds left in Tuesday’s football game didn’t add onto a usual Ada-Borup blowout, instead it was needed to win the game.
Ada-Borup (8-1) nearly lost the opening round playoff game to Waubun (4-4), but a strong second half was key in the 27-24 win.
Ada-Borup’s opening drive resembled nothing what the first half ended up being, but in a way it did. After Mitchell Ruebke caught a 17-yard pass from Jace Hennen, little emotion was shown by the players. Like Ada-Borup was already set on the next playoff game and the opening round wasn’t even thought to be a challenge.
Ada-Borup would find themselves rethinking that, as Waubun played to win, and it seemed they would late in the third quarter after a Jason Hanks 82-yard touchdown reception gave Waubun a 24-20 advantage.
“We just came out flat,” Ada-Borup head coach Nathan Brager said. “We assumed Waubun was going to lay down for us and give us the game, but that obviously wasn’t the case. They came to win, we didn’t.”
Waubun’s work ethic on each side of the ball paid off in the first half, as yards were continually gained and it’s defense forced Ada-Borup to go 4-and-out multiple times.
Waubun’s pass blockers gave Ryan McArthur enough time to find receivers in Ada-Borup’s 3-4 defense, and often allowed their quarterback room to scramble. Time in the pocket resulted in finding Hanks downfield, who came down with passes only he could reach, and his 149-yards in just four receptions raises the question why he wasn’t the target of more passes.
A second-half Ada-Borup defensive adjustment may be the answer, as Ada-Borup finally got penetration to hinder Waubun’s success and give motivation to the Cougar’s offense.
“We switched from our regular defense to a 4-2 defense at half,” Brager said. “It worked well to have our big guys shoot gaps. It caused more problems with Waubun’s blocking schemes that were challenging us the entire first half.”
Ada-Borup shut down and stole Waubun’s offensive power with the switch, as Halle ran 27 yards into Waubun’s half of the field. Three plays later, Halle rushed for a 2-yard touchdown to finish a 53-yard scoring drive that took just 2 minutes.
But Ada-Borup’s passing game wasn’t as stellar as the run, which prompted Brager to alter his offense’s game plan.
“We started to focus more on the run after our passing became stagnant, which it rarely does,” Brager said. “Luckily our rushes started to wear [Waubun] down, and the running game ended up saving us in the end.”
Ada-Borup plays No. 3 seeded Underwood Saturday at 6 PM in Ada. Brackets for the section 6, 9-man tournament can be viewed by clicking here.