HOLTON — The stat sheet from Saturday night's Class 4A playoff clash between Holton and Andale told one story.
On paper, Andale outgained Holton 245 yards to 128. The Indians had 13 first downs to Holton's six. One punt to four.
The time of possession was nearly two to one.
But the scoreboard told another story and it was one that had a unpleasant ending for visiting Andale.
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Two turnovers that led to short Holton scoring drives and the Indians' inability to finish drives resulted in a 21-8 Holton victory. The loss ended Andale's season at 9-2.
"They're such a good football team, no doubt about it," Andale coach Gary O'Hair said of Holton, which improved to 9-2 and will play host to Ulysses in next week's quarterfinals. "We knew it would be a tough football game against a tough football team. Offensively, we just needed to execute against them so well because they're so fundamentally sound.
"We felt like we needed to get a few breaks to have a chance against these guys and that's not the way it worked out."
Indeed, early mistakes proved to be a killer for the Indians. In its first six offensive plays, Andale fumbled it away to Holton twice, each time setting the Wildcats up in prime scoring position.
Holton couldn't capitalize on the first chance from the Andale 23, but didn't let the opportunity slip away again when Bryce Barnett recovered the Indians' second fumble at the Andale 32. Six plays later, Rob Riederer plowed across from the 3 to make it 7-0.
Andale nearly coughed it up again on its fourth possession and for the bulk of the first half, the Indians' offense went virtually nowhere. Andale managed 95 yards of total offense and the biggest play was a 26-yard run by Jake Hattabaugh before the Indians turned it over on downs.
Holton's offense didn't exactly run wild. The Wildcats had 102 yards at halftime, but took a 14-0 lead into the break when Gunnar McKenna busted a 17-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-2 play.
"We knew this was going to be a dogfight from the first play out," said Andale tailback Jake Hattabaugh, who lost one of the fumbles. "They were all hard-nosed and we just had to fight through it. Those turnovers hurt us and we always stress that we have to get takeaways and not give it away."
Down 14-0 at halftime, Andale finally got its offense going in the second half. The Indians dominated time of possession, putting together 11- and 13-play drives on their first two possessions of the second half, each time marching the ball deep into Holton territory.
Finishing those drives, however, was something the Indians couldn't do. The first ended with Hattabaugh stopped for a one-yard gain on fourth-and-2 at the Holton 10, and the second saw Hattabaugh stopped two yards shy of a first down on fourth-and-5 at the Wildcat 8.
Despite outgaining Holton 150 yards to 26 in the second half, Andale didn't have anything to show for it until quarterback Cody King snuck across from the 1 with seven seconds left for Andale's only score.
Holton had already padded its lead to 21-0, turning a Brandon Hooper interception and ensuing penalty on Andale into a two-play, 13-yard scoring drive with Rob Morris scoring from 4 yards.
"I think we played outstanding on defense and so did they," Holton coach Brooks Barta said. "Some nights are just like that where both defenses play great, and some nights both offenses play great. Both defenses played outstanding tonight.
"Really, the story was our defense tonight."
Hattabaugh was once again a workhorse for Andale, logging 38 carries. He finished with 159 yards, but only had two runs that went for more than 10 yards.
"It was frustrating," Hattabaugh said. "We'd drive it all the way down the field, but couldn't get it in. We always seemed to come up short, but we kept trying until the end of the game."
Andale (9-2) 0 0 0 8 — 8 Holton (9-2) 7 7 0 7 — 21
H—Riederer 3 run (Morris kick)
H—McKenna 17 run (Morris kick)
H—Morris 4 run (Morris kick)
A—King 1 run (O'Hair run)
Rushing—Andale, Hattabaugh 38-159, King 10-29, Staats 4-8, T. Horsch 1-0. Holton, McKenna 12-48, Riederer 6-25, Lovvorn 7-23, Donaldson 5-17, Morris 3-19, Barnett 2-2, Wright 3-(-6).
Passing—Andale, King 6-11-49-1, Hattabaugh 0-5-0-0. Holton, Barnett 0-2-0-0.
Receiving—Andale, R. Horsch 2-8, Bergkamp 2-24, Hattabaugh 1-0, Martin 1-17. Holton, none.