The Jamestown High School football team was feeling pretty good after a 43-yard touchdown rush on a jet sweep by Adam Kallenbach gave the Jays a 14-0 advantage with 8 minutes, 51 seconds remaining Friday night.
"You are always confident," JHS head football coach Bill Nelson said. "Are you thinking about different scenarios in your head? Yeah, you always have to, but it's one of those things where we battled and we battled hard."
But if Nelson knows anything about the game of football, it's that things can change in a split-second -- or more accurately -- 17 seconds.
With 8:33 left to play, Jamestown's Brode Hillstrom booted one to Mandan's Kasyn Jablonski, who was waiting back at the Mandan two-yard line. Jablonski, a junior receiver, fielded it cleanly and sprinted 97 yards to make it 14-7 Jays.
The Braves' late offensive momentum rolled them right past the Jays to win 17-14. The loss drops the Jays' record to 5-2 overall and 5-0 in the Class A standings. Both Jamestown's losses have come against Class AA teams. The Jays have been untouchable in Class A and have managed to lock up the No. 1 seed. Jamestown is slated to host a first-round playoff tilt.
"It's one loss, it's not the end of the world," Nelson said Friday night. . "We just got a little banged up tonight, but we'll regroup. There's a lot of football left to be played."
Jamestown will see its last Class AA action of the year next week at Minot and then will wrap up the regular season in Devils Lake on Oct. 22. Both games are slated to begin at 7 p.m.
The Blue Jays began the last home game of the regular season with a 23-yard give to senior Jakob Schempp to put the Jays inside the 10-yard line. Quarterback Jackson Walters aired it out to Preston Kroeber for a nine-yard gain to put the Jays three feet short of the endzone. Walters ripped up the middle to put an end to the six-play, 42-yard touchdown scoring drive.
Kallenbach punched it through the uprights to make it 7-0 Blue Jays.
After breaking the ice, the Jays and Braves both had some trouble moving the chains.
Walters and Mandan quarterback Max Carlson combined for seven interceptions through the four quarters. Walters was 4-for-9 for 57 yards passing. The junior signal-caller also recorded 64 rushing yards on 13 carries. A bright spot for Walters came on defense when he came up with a fumble recovery.
Unofficially, Schempp was the Jays' leading ground-gainer with 15 carries for 67 yards. The senior also hauled in two catches to pick up another 35. Schempp also tallied a fumble recovery. Kallenbach had his 43-yard jet sweep and one other catch for 13 yards.
The Blue Jay defense kept the home team in the game, putting Carlson on the ropes more than once. The Jays sacked the visiting quarterback three times in just the first half. Prior Friday night, the Blue Jay defense had only given up 68 points all season, 33 of which came against Class AA's Fargo Shanley on Sept. 24.
"For 95% of the game, they did a great job," Nelson said of the defense. "On special teams, things just didn't go our way. There are no excuses here, they made one more play than we did. So be it. We'll be back next week."
Mandan's second-to-last play took advantage of a letdown by the brick wall of Blue Jays.
Jablonski capitalized on busted coverage with 4:30 to play. With no one in the secondary, Jablonski took it 68 yards to the house to come within one of the game leaders. Alex Wagner tied it up with the extra point and all of a sudden the two teams were sitting even at 14 with four minutes to play.
"You can say you don't agree with some of the calls but (the officials) have the final word," Nelson said. "We gave up plays that we shouldn't have gave up and they made one more play than we did."
After going 3-and-out, the Braves punted the ball back to Kroeber who managed to pick up 12 on the return to put the Jays on the 28-yard line. On 2nd and 6, Walters powered through to pick up another four. The Jays weren't able to get anywhere on 3rd down so on 4th and 2, Nelson sent out the field goal unit.
With 30 seconds left to play, Kallenbach booted the ball from the 39-yard line to try and make it a three-point game but the kick rolled just wide of the left upright.
"We could have gone 15 or 20 yards farther back and I still would have had the confidence in him to let him swing away and go," Nelson said. "That was a good kick it just pushed one way."
With 19 seconds left, Jablonski notched a 43-yard gain off a pass from Carlson. With nine seconds left, Carlson let loose for the endzone and while he overshot his intended receiver, the Braves got a break with a 15-yard, pass interference call assessed to Jamestown.
With one second left on the clock, Mandan put all of its eggs in Alex Wagner's basket. Wagner made good on his 36-yarder to end it 17-14.
"We played a hell of a football game," Nelson said. "They boys played their tails off, we just had a couple of breakdowns and things didn't go our way. We've got a great group of boys and they are going to rebound and we're going to go up to Minot and play a heckuva football game next Friday night. That's the way it's going to be."
Mandan 17, Jamestown 14
MAN 0 0 0 17 -- 17
JHS 7 0 0 7 -- 14
1. JHS: 1-yard rush by Jackson Walters (Adam Kallenbach kick), 6:01.
JHS: 43-yard run by Adam Kallenbach. (kick good), 8:51.
MAN: 97-yard kickoff return by Jablonski (Wagner kick good), 8:33.
MAN: 68-yard run by Jablonski (kick good), 4:07.
MAN: 36-yard field goal by Wagner, 0:01.
Records: Mandan 3-4 overall, 2-2 Class AA; Jamestown 5-2, 5-0