Living up to the hype: Canadian holds off Abernathy in state quarterfinal thriller


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Canadian’s Hayze Hufstedler (21) runs for the endzone against Abernathy on Friday night on J Ferg Field at Buffalo Stadium. [John Moore/ Press Pass Sports]

Canadian and Abernathy lived up to the hype… and then some.

In a clash an estimated crowd of over 5,000 fans on J Ferg Field at Buffalo Stadium won’t soon forget, the Wildcats held on for a thrilling 35-31, win in a Class 3A Division II instant classic Friday night.

This game had a little bit of everything. Big plays, key turnovers and costly special teams moments that impacted all four quarters.

Canadian started out fast, taking a 28-12 lead into halftime.

But Abernathy snagged early momentum in the third quarter thanks to Canadian miscues. Abernathy came up with back-to-back interceptions on Canadian’s first two third quarter possessions, turning those mistakes into 13 unanswered points. The first came when a hobbling Grant McCook, who fought through a leg injury during the night, was intercepted deep in his own end by Antelopes defender Aaron Trevino. Trevino returned the pick down inside the Canadian 10-yard line. That led to a Bryson Daily 2-yard score cutting the lead, 28-18. On Canadian’s next possession, McCook had a ball tipped and intercepted by Daily who went 64 yards for a pick six, getting Abernathy with in three, 28-25.

“We challenged are guys at half,” Abernathy coach Darrell Daily said. “They responded and got us back in it.”

Canadian responded with its only score early in the fourth quarter. Facing a 4th and 1, at the Antelopes 31-yard line, running back Hayze Hufstedler broke free up the middle for a clutch touchdown, putting the Wildcats up 35-25 with 11:09 to play.

Abernathy answered three minutes later on another Daily touchdown of 32-yards, making it 35-31.

With five minutes to play and all the momentum, Abernathy got the ball back at midfield. However, the Canadian defense stepped up, forcing a punt. On the punt Daily kicked it to his own 20 where it hit Canadian receiver Jake Krehbiel in the back, allowing the Antelopes to recover. But once again, the Wildcats defense was tenacious, holding Abernathy on four straight plays, including a gang tackle sack of Daily on Abernathy’s final play with two minutes remaining.

Canadian was able to run the clock out from there, holding on for the win.

“We had some very key stops,” Canadian coach Chris Koetting said. “We made some turnovers and couldn’t get anything going the second half. Give credit to Abernathy they are a great football team. But we got stops when we needed them the most.”

Both teams will look at the box score and scratch their heads Saturday morning. Canadian had three interceptions that resulted in 19 Abernathy points.

The Antelopes missed two extra points, and two 2-point conversions that were devastating.

Canadian coach Chris Koetting talks to his team after the win over Abernathy. [John Moore/ Press Pass Sports]

Canadian (13-0) moves on to the state semifinals for a sixth straight year, and an unprecedented 13th time since 1998. The Wildcats will get a familiar opponent in Gunter (13-1) at a time and place to be determined. Gunter downed Holliday 27-9 on Friday. This marks a fourth straight semifinal meeting between Canadian and Gunter.

Canadian’s Hayze Hufstedler had 145 yards on 20 carries, while the defense limited Abernathy to 239 total yards.

Abernathy ends a fantastic season at 12-2.

Daily, who ended his stellar career by making his 50th start Friday, ran for 73 yards, threw for 139 with all four TDs. Daily was 43-7 as a starter in four years.

Canadian 35, Abernathy 31

Canadian 14 14 0 7 35

Abernathy 6 6 13 7 31

First quarter

C—Tate Mitchell 53 pass from Grant McCook (Edgar Salazar kick)

A— Bryson Dailey 12 pass from Jess Hoel (kick failed)

C— McCook 3 run (Salazar kick)

Second quarter

C— McCook 1 run (Salazar kick)

A— Daily 2 run (conversion failed)

C—McCook 1 run (Salazar kick)

Third quarter

A— Daily 2 run (conversion failed)

A— Daily 64 interception return (Sagen Gonzalez kick)

Fourth quarter

C— Hayze Hufstedler 31 run (Salazar kick)

A— Daily 32 run (kick failed)

Canadian Abernathy

First downs 19 14

Rushing Yards 199 100

Passing Yards 141 139

Total Yards 340 239

C-A-I 8-17-3 11-24-0

Fumbles-lost 2-1 0-0

Punts-avg. 3-41 6-21

Penalties-Yds 8-77 9-90

Individual stats

Rushing—Canadian: Hufstedler 20-145; McCook 20-56; Jake Kriehbel 5-14. Abernathy:Daily 23-73; 2-20.

Passing: Canadian: McCook 8-16-2-141; Culwell 0-1-1-0. Abernathy: 8-19-0-83; Hoel 3-5-0-56.

Receiving: Canadian: Hufstedler 3-5; Reagan Cochran 2-45; Tate Mitchell 1-53; Bill Koetting 1-28. Abernathy:Hoel 5-54; Nick DeAndra 1-40.

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