Busch rushes for 210 yards, Hawks fend off Cougars
JEWELL — It was midweek when South Hamilton head football coach Corey Klemp noticed that Austin Busch had an extra spring in his step.
The high ankle sprain that had limited the senior had seemingly healed fully. Finally. But could Busch hold up on both sides of the ball over a full 48-minute game?
The answer is yes. A resounding yes.
Healthy for the first time all fall, Busch celebrated a return to normalcy by torching Manson-Northwest Webster for 210 yards rushing and four touchdowns, and he also made 41⁄2 tackles on defense to help South Hamilton pull off a 36-28 victory at Taylor Field Friday night.
Busch lugged the ball between the tackles a whopping 34 times and scored on jaunts of 21, 8, 2 and 9 yards, as the Hawks (3-4, 2-2 Class 1A District 2) clinched one of the district’s four spots in the postseason by beating the Cougars (2-5, 1-3 District 2).
“Honestly, probably Wednesday or maybe Thursday of practice this past week, all of a sudden it felt right to (Busch),” Klemp said after his team ended a two-game skid. “He had that extra pop in his step again and really looked tremendous. So I had a sneaking suspicion that he was going to have a real big game on both sides of the ball. Defensively, he really flowed too.”
Manson-Northwest Webster positioned its defense to guard against halfback Landen Skartvedt — the No. 2 rusher in the district — running wild on the perimeter. Busch took advantage on the interior, and continued improved blocking up front allowed him to break free for the career-best performance.
“It became apparent pretty quickly that they wanted to take away the outside, so we really started chipping away inside,” Klemp said.
Skartvedt churned out 51 yards on 13 carries and Prestin Van De Pol, who was in the starting backfield for the injured Tycin Barkema, added 25 yards on the ground. South Hamilton accumulated 340 yards of offense, including 54 through the air courtesy of quarterback Tjerdan Johnson.
Johnson, just a sophomore, tossed his first career touchdown in the second quarter when he hooked up with Nic Flaugh on a 52-yard strike that gave South Hamilton a 16-14 half-time lead.
Busch’s 8-yard touchdown run in the final minute of the third quarter extended the Hawks’ lead to 22-14, but South Hamilton was never able to put the Cougars away over the final 12 minutes.
Manson-Northwest Webster relied on big gains through the air to keep the pressure applied. A 34-yard TD pass from Shawn Kenyon to Kaden Anderson just seven seconds into the final period closed the gap to 22-20, but South Hamilton answered with 14 straight points to rebuild its cushion. Busch hit paydirt on runs of 2 and 9 yards to make it 36-22 with 3:11 remaining.
Tate Bianchi, the district’s leading rusher, trimmed the Cougars’ deficit to eight points on a 1-yard plunge with 1:43 to go, but South Hamilton was able to run out the clock to prevail.
Bianchi reached the end zone three times, but it wasn’t enough.
“It was a game that was much like our season where anything that can happen happened,” Klemp said. “I just couldn’t be more impressed with how our kids handle adversity and how they don’t let one play here or there disrupt their flow. There were a couple times over the past few weeks where they could have folded or mailed it in, but they just don’t. Their resolve was something they really showed again on Friday.”
Skartvedt had a team-high 61⁄2 tackles, and Gatlin Johnson tacked on five more. Chayton Ewurs intercepted a Kenyon pass and returned it 30 yards to set up Busch’s third-quarter TD run.
South Hamilton will wrap up the regular season at home against Eagle Grove (3-4, 2-2 District 1) on Friday. The winner will get the No. 3 seed out of the district behind South Central Calhoun and Woodward-Granger, while the loser will be a No. 4 seed.
“This is a group that every week we get better,” Klemp said. “If we can continue to get more healthy and maybe even get some guys back, this is a team that can continue to build the deeper we go into the season.”
SH 36, Manson-NW Webster 28
Friday at Jewell
Man-NW Web 0 14 0 14 — 28
S. Hamilton 0 16 6 14 — 36
SH — Austin Busch 21 run (Landen Skartvedt run), 11:06.
MAN — Tate Bianchi 4 run (Caden Hudek run), 3:23.
SH — Nic Flaugh 52 pass from Tjerdan Johnson (Skartvedt run), 1:25.
MAN — Bianchi 1 run (run failed), 0:33.
SH — Busch 8 run (run failed), 0:52.
MAN — Kaden Anderson 34 pass from Shawn Kenyon (run failed), 11:53.
SH — Busch 2 run (Johnson run), 9:01.
SH — Busch 9 run (run failed), 3:11.
MAN — Bianchi 1 run (Ian Kohnen pass from Bianchi), 1:43.
Rushing — SH: Austin Busch 34-210, Landen Skartvedt 13-51, Prestin Van De Pol 3-25.
Passing — SH: Tjerdan Johnson 2-4-0-1 54.
Receiving — SH: Nic Flaugh 1-52, Van De Pol 1-2.
Tackles — SH: Skartvedt 61⁄2, Gatlin Johnson 5, Busch 41⁄2, Brent Greenfield 4, Noah Gunderson 3, Jack Moline 3, Van De Pol 21⁄2, Teagan Trask 21⁄2, Chayton Ewurs 21⁄2, Tucker Clabaugh 21⁄2, Stellen Willis 11⁄2, Flaugh 1, Blake Harris 1, Ernie Taylor 1, Aiden Johnson 1.