NEWTON, Kan. - Osborne trailed by 12 after the first quarter, 20 at halftime and 18 in the third quarter against Hanover, a squad that hadn’t lost a game since the 2015 state title.
Hanover defeated Osborne 58-50 to win the KSHSAA 8 Man D2 State Championship Football Game at Fischer Field in Newton on Saturday, November 24, 2018. (Photo: Everett Royer, www.ksportsimages.com)
However, the Bulldogs, led by the Holloway brothers, winnowed the deficit to two points midway through the fourth quarter. Osborne eventually lost 58-50 to Hanover in a wildly entertaining Eight-Man, Division II state championship contest Saturday at Newton’s Fischer Field.
Hanover bumped its winning streak to 38 contests, the longest eight-man run since the ‘80s, and captured its third straight Division II crown. The Wildcats finished 13-0, and Osborne went 11-2. Osborne coach Brandon Wise said he was “super proud” of the Bulldogs, which faced significant disadvantages in size and depth. It marked the most combined points ever in an eight-man state title game.
“This is the type of team this is, and that’s why we are where we are,” Wise said. “They just fought and grinded all year long. They got better every single week, they got better everyday. They played better every week.”
Hanover led 38-20 in the third quarter after a 26-yard scoring run from senior Carter Bruna. However, Osborne senior Kade Miller immediately responded with a 74-yard kickoff return touchdown.
“We started off good, and we kept going, but we almost got complacent at the end,” Bruna said.
Hanover senior quarterback Daiken Stallbaumer, on fourth down, broke loose from a midfield scrum for a 41-yard run and 40-28 advantage.
Osborne responded again with a 10-yard touchdown run from junior running back Darrien Holloway.
Hanover again extended the lead to 52-36 on a 34-yard pass from Stallbaumer to senior Pete Peters. The Wildcats missed on the two-point attempt. Hanover was 2 of 9 on two-point conversions.
“Two-point conversions are huge,” Wise said. “We take a lot of emphasis on punching them in, and put a lot of emphasis on stopping them from getting there’s. I think we did a pretty decent job about that.”
Osborne closed to 52-42 with a two-yard scoring run from senior quarterback Darnell Holloway. Then, the Bulldogs forced the game’s only punt, and Darnell Holloway broke free for a 10-yard score and 52-50 deficit with 4 minutes, 21 seconds left.
“We stuck to the game plan,” Wise said of the second half. “We ran the same offense we ran all year long. We just kept on fighting and grinding it out. Darnell made a great job with his reads. Darrien ran hard. Everyone ran hard. I am just proud of everybody. We didn’t do anything different. We just kept on doing what we did. A couple formations here and there, but nothing major.”
Darnell Holloway finished with 25 carries for 156 yards and three scores. He also completed 5 of 9 passes for 113 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Junior Darrien Holloway delivered 30 rushes for 138 yards and two touchdowns.
“An extremely good football game between two really good football teams,” Hanover coach Matt Heuer said. “I thought our kids did a pretty good job offensively. Defensively, I thought that we probably could have been a little more gap assignment sound, but at the same time, I thought that we did a good job of making them earn it. It’s not like they really hit us with a lot of big plays.”
Hanover senior Thomas Atkins had a 45-yard scoring pass on a quick throw to the sideline and a long run where he evaded two defenders for a 58-50 advantage.
Atkins missed last year’s state game because of non-injury related reasons. The athletic Atkins came back with eight catches for 148 yards and TD receptions of 20 and 47 yards. He also collected a 17-yard rush and returned a kickoff 67 yards for a score.
“It felt really good to come back with my team,” Atkins said. “Going through the whole year, and then missing the best game out of them all is kind of the worst part about it, but I was able to come back and help my team get a W.”
Osborne got the ball back with 3:25 remaining but went four plays without getting a first down. The Bulldogs were out of timeouts, and Hanover converted a fourth and short for a first down, and then ran out the clock.
“You want the ball with a chance to win it,” Wise said. “We had the ball with a chance to tie it. That’s the ultimate goal. That’s our mentality. That’s what we tried to do, and we did it. Again, I can’t tell you how happy enough I am with these guys. I wish it would have turned out better for them.”