Mustangs are known for their wild and sometimes unruly behavior. And the Mustangs of Jordan were too tough to tame for the Hot Springs Savage Heat in the second round of the Class C 6-man football state playoffs on a cool and sometimes windy afternoon in Sanders County.
Jordan, led by the Murnion clan on a team without a single senior, scored on its first 11 possessions and outscored Hot Springs, 74-57. The Mustangs will travel to play Richie-Lambert in the semifinals this weekend. Richie-Lambert upset Geraldine-Highwood, scoring in the final minute for a 56-54 shootout victory.
In the other semifinal contest, Wibaux (10-0) plays at Grass Range-Winnett (12-0) in a battle of unbeaten teams.
“That East is a tough conference,” Hot Springs head coach Jim Lawson said. “They have three teams in the semifinals. That’s pretty impressive. It’s going to be a real battle to see.”
JORDAN JUNIOR Keenan Murnion was involved in all 11 Mustang touchdowns. He threw nine scoring passes, and ran for two tallies. Cole Murnion hauled in five TD passes, and Edward Murnion caught two other scoring aerials.
There are two other Murnions on the team — D.J. and Dawson. Edward and Dawson are brothers; all the fathers of the Murnion players are cousins, according to a Jordan resident. (Note: the Murnions will be referred to by only first names the remainder of this article.)
“They just have so much speed,” Lawson said of the young and talented Mustangs. “We knew they were fast. Their quarterback (Keenan Murnion) is just a tremendous athlete. He is strong with his decision-making. We couldn’t really get to him (with the pass rush) … He made so many good throws … They just didn’t make any mistakes. Our turnovers did really swing the momentum in their favor.”
You cannot give a very good team a short field, but the Savage Heat did that several times.
“We dug ourselves a hole with turnovers,” Lawson said.
With just more than 4 minutes gone off the scoreboard clock, Jordan already had a 20-0 lead.
The Mustangs scored on a 4-yard pass from Keenan to Cole.
Keenan recovered a Hot Spring fumble moments after the kickoff, and the Mustangs quickly doubled their lead on a 31-yard run by Keenan — converting a fourth-and-21 situation into paydirt.
With pressure on Heat junior quarterback Brandon Knudsen by Edward, Keenan picked off a pass — leading the way to a brief drive that resulted in a 2-yard scoring pass from Keenan to Cole. Edward’s PAT kick made it 20-0.
HOT SPRINGS then finally got untracked, scoring on a 25-yard sweep by Tyler Knudsen — one of only two seniors on the team. Tyler Carr is the other senior.
Keenan scored on a 15-yard keeper to rebuild the Jordan lead to 28-6 after Edward’s PAT kick.
The Heat had Jordan pinned deep in its own territory, but the ever-elusive Keenan ran from eight yards deep in his own end zone for a first down at the 22-yard-line. Two plays later, a Keenan-to-Edward aerial pushed the lead to 36-6.
Hot Springs scored on a 42-yard pass from Brandon to his brother Tyler Knudsen, but the Mustangs got the points back on a 63-yard catch-and-run by Cole on a short pass from Keenan.
The teams then exchanged touchdowns, and Jordan led 48-19 at the end of a wild and wooly first half.
THIS GAME was far from over, though, as the Heat came out on fire, scoring quickly on a 21-yard jaunt by Tyler Knudsen. But on the first play after the kickoff, Keenan connected with Edward on a 65-yard TD pass and a 54-27 lead.
Hot Springs got within 54-35 on another Tyler Knudsen scoring run; however, a 30-yard scramble by Keenan set up his 4-yard TD strike to Cole.
Each team then scored once — Hot Springs’ TD on a Luke Waterbury run — and the scoreboard read Jordan 68, Hot Springs 43 after three quarters.
After a Keenan-to-Cole scoring play, Hot Springs scored twice — on a 51-yard Knudsen pass hook-up, and a Brandon Knudsen pass to Carr.
“They were firing on all cylinders,” Lawson said of the Mustangs. “Our defense was no slouch. Those Murnion kids just have an extra gear. They’re going to be good again next year.
“The big thing for us was those two kids, 12 (Keenan) and 33 (Edward) playing defensive ends. We just did not have time to throw the ball,” Lawson said.
Jordan’s only turnover came when freshman Jack McAllister intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter.
“The (Heat) kids played hard, but how do you adjust to that kind of speed?” Lawson said.
Brandon Knudsen threw for about 250 yards against Jordan, finishing with 1,100 yards for the season. Tyler Knudsen had about 100 yards rushing against the Mustangs.
THE TYLERS — Knudsen and Carr — were elected to the 2018 Class C 6-man all-state team, along with Noxon senior Levi
Brubaker. Those three joined Brandon Knudsen and Waterbury from Hot Springs and Edison “Eddie” VanVleet of Noxon on the Western Division all-conference team.
“They’re come a long way,” Lawson said of the Tyler seniors.
“They’ve come a long way. They’re big, strong kids … They had great careers,” the coach said. “They were part of the 2016 state championship team. They have an awful lot to be proud of.”
Nick Costa, an exchange student from Italy, will return to his homeland at the end of this school year.
Jordan 28 20 20 6 — 74
Hot Springs 6 12 24 14 — 57
JOR - Cole Murnion 4 pass from Keenan Murnion (pass failed)
JOR - K. Murnion 31 run (kick failed)
JOR- C. Murnion 2 pass from K. Murnion (Edward Murnion kick)
HSP - Tyler Knudsen 25 run (pass failed)
JOR – K. Murnion 15 run (E. Murnion kick)
JOR – E. Murnion 8 pass from K. Murnion (E. Murnion kick)
HSP – T. Knudsen 42 pass from Brandon Knudsen (B. Knudsen pass from Jack McAllister)
JOR – C. Murnion 62 pass from K. Murnion (kick failed)
HSP - Kyle Lawson 35 pass from B. Knudsen (kick failed)
JOR - Derek Reis 13 pass from K. Murnion (kick failed)
HSP – T. Knudsen 20 pass from B. Knudsen (T. Knudsen kick)
JOR – E. Murnion 52 pass from K. Murnion (pass failed)
HSP – T. Knudsen 13 run (T. Knudsen kick)
JOR – C. Murnion 4 pass from K. Murnion (Edward Murnion kick)
JOR - Reis 4 pass from K. Murnion (run failed)
HSP - Luke Waterbury 9 run (T. Knudsen kick)
JOR – C. Murnion 2 pass from K. Murnion (kick failed)
HSP – T. Knudsen 51 pass from B. Knudsen (T. Knudsen kick)
HSP - Tyler Carr 15 pass from B. Knudsen (pass failed)
2018 6-Man Football
Hot Springs 49, Denton-Geyser-Stanford 24
Jordan 88, Roy-Winifred 40
Geraldine-Highwood 51, Noxon 14
Richey-Lambert 80, Bridger 30
Wibaux 59, Shields Valley 6
Big Sandy 56, White Sulphur Springs 22
Grass Range-Winnett 27, Westby-Grenora 24
West Yellowstone 86, Sunburst 60
Nov. 3 — Quarterfinals
Jordan 74, Hot Springs 57
Richey-Lambert 56, Geraldine-Highwood 54
Wibaux 46, Big Sandy 14
Grass Range-Winnett 58, West Yellowstone 36
Nov. 9-10 — Semifinals
Jordan (9-2) at Richey-Lambert (9-2)
Wibaux (10-0) at Grass Range-Winnett (12-0)
Nov. 17 — Championship
Jordan/Richey-Lambert winner at Wibaux/Grass Range-Winnett winner