Hot Springs gridders beat Noxon, fall to White Sulphur Springs

| October 14, 2020 12:00 AM

By CHUCK BANDEL

Valley Press

The Hot Springs football team had the unenviable task of playing two games in three days due to some unusual rescheduling plans.

When it was all said and done, the Savage Heat claimed six-man bragging rights in county action with a 48-28 win over Noxon Thursday, but suffered a 53-15 defeat to White Sulphur Springs Saturday.

Saturday afternoon the Savage Heat took the field against White Sulphur Springs in a match of unbeaten 6-man teams with playoff implications at stake.

After dispatching of Noxon Thursday night, Hot Springs players traveled to face the Hornets in a hastily arranged game that was originally scheduled for Oct. 3. The Noxon game was supposed to be played the week before that but was cancelled by the Hot Springs athletic director due to unhealthy air quality levels due to smoke from regional wildfires.

In order to get the Noxon game back on the schedule, after having already agreed to play Valier instead, Noxon was put back on the schedule leaving Saturday as the only day to play White Sulphur Springs.

That meant two games for the Savage Heat in the span of 48 hours, an almost unheard of arrangement for football largely because of the intense physicality involved.

So on to play the Hornets it was and in the end the weary Savage Heat fell to White Sulphur 53-15 Saturday afternoon.

The loss was the first of the season for Hot Springs, leaving them with a 3-1 record due to changes involving the Covid virus that shortened their season. White Sulphur, meanwhile, boosted its record to 3-0 as both teams now await state 6-man playoff pairings.

Bragging rights for six-man high school football in Sanders County were on the line in a game that was cancelled, then brought back to life via a series of scheduled, cancelled and rescheduled games.

There are only two six-man teams in Sanders County, but they have developed a solid rivalry, even in this whacky virus-scrambled season.

Through it all, Hot Springs emerged with those boastful rights when they battled and defeated a determined Noxon team 48-28 under hazy skies Thursday night in Hot Springs.

In the early going, the host Savage Heat dominated. Hot Springs got on the board with 7:43 to play in the opening 10 minutes as senior running back Lincoln Slonaker tossed a 21-yard TD pass to junior Kyle Lawson, capping off a quick opening drive to go up 6-0.

The teams traded punts on the next two possessions before Noxon was forced to punt again. Slonaker returned the kick to the Red Devils one yard line where after losing three yards on two plays, Lawson scored on fourth down and four to give Hot Springs a 12-0 lead as the quarter came to an end.

Second quarter action featured a Noxon interception that gave them the ball on the 25-yard line. However, the Red Devils fumbled on that drive, setting up the Savage Heat on the Noxon 27.

Lawson then plunged over on a third and goal run that, with a successful point after touchdown kick, gave the host team a 20-0 advantage with 2:11 remaining in the first half.

The Savage Heat defense quickly forced a turnover on downs at the Hot Springs 23. A long pass hauled in by Lawson moved the ball to the Noxon 27 yard line, and two plays later Hot Springs quarterback Jack McAllister hooked up with Lawson on a 26-yard scoring strike with 25 seconds left in the opening half.

Another successful PAT kick lifted Hot Springs to a 28-0 lead. Noxon got the ball back but their drive was halted when Slonaker picked off a Red Devils pass as the half expired.

The Red Devils came out fired up in the second half as bruising junior running back Cade VanVleet fueled a ground-based drive that concluded when senior Jared Webley snared an 11-yard scoring toss with 5:28 to play in the third quarter.

The fourth and goal score cut the Hot Springs lead to 28-6.

Noxon then recovered an onside kick on the change of possession and set up shop on the Hot Springs 30. On a third-and-10 play, Red Devil wideout Jeriko Smith-Roach grabbed a 26-yard TD throw to cut the Hot Springs lead to 28-12 at the 4:18 mark of quarter number three.

The Red Devils tried a pooch kick after the score, which was this time recovered by Hot Springs. A long pass from McAllister to Bert DeTienne moved Hot Springs into the Noxon end of the field, where McAllister once again found DeTienne, this time on a seven-yard scoring strike.

A successful PAT kick put Hot Springs in front 36-12.

Noxon got the ball back on their own nine-yard line following a holding penalty on the Red Devils during the kickoff play.

With just under two minutes to go in the quarter, Nate Baldwin broke free around end and outraced the Hot Springs defense on his way to a 63-yard touchdown run.

After a successful Noxon point after kick, the score stood at 36-20 in favor of Hot Springs.

Prior to the end of the third quarter, the Red Devil defense forced Hot Springs to turn the ball over on downs at midfield. A series of runs by VanVleet moved the visitors to the Hot Springs five, where sophomore Gage Hendrick waltzed into the end zone. Another good PAT kick cut the Hot Springs lead to 36-28 with 8:07 remaining in the game.

Hot Springs got the ball back where a pair of runs by Lawson put the ball on the Noxon four yard line. McAllister then hooked up with Slonaker on a TD toss, boosting the Hot Springs advantage to 42-28 with 6:45 remaining to play.

Noxon was held to a turnover on downs on their next possession. Hot Springs quickly moved to the Red Devils 15 but the drive came to an abrupt halt when a tipped pass in the end zone was picked off by Noxon.

The Red Devils were unable to move the ball and gave it back to Hot Springs on downs at their own eight yard line with less than 3 minutes to play.

The ensuing Savage Heat drive concluded with a one yard run for a score by Lawson.

The game ended with McAllister taking a knee as the clock ran out and Hot Springs on the Noxon four yard line.

The win gives Hot Springs a 3-0 record on the Covid shortened season. They traveled to White Sulphur Springs the next day for a rare two-day break Saturday game and a shot at a perfect, albeit abbreviated season and a likely playoff spot.

Noxon concluded its regular season at 2-2.