SCOBEY -- Scobey flipped the script in the second quarter, and Jayce Tande played the role of hero as the Spartans got a 44-28 win over Shelby in the semifinal round of the 8-Man football state playoffs on Saturday.
Known for its power rushing attack, Scobey went to the air Saturday, spreading out the Coyotes' defense and letting Tande go to work. The senior quarterback delivered, throwing five touchdown passes and rushing for another in the win.
"I didn't think we would throw the ball that much, especially with the wind, but we were getting some looks that we really liked, and our quarterback, he's got some magic to him, and when it's not there, he can stay alive until something does come open," Scobey coach Brock Berryhill said. "We don't ever expect to throw that much, but (Shelby is) so big up front they were giving us some problems running the ball inside the guards, so we had to try something else. And luckily we're blessed with some skill kids and a quarterback that can do it."
Tande put the Spartans on the board in the first quarter on a touchdown pass to Addison Stentoft after both teams got out to sloppy starts. There were fumbles on the first three possessions of the game, with Stentoft's touchdown ultimately coming off a Shelby fumble that Scobey recovered on the Coyotes' 30-yard line.
Tande extended Scobey's lead in the second quarter with a 1-yard scoring run. While the Spartans' chewed up most of the drive on the ground, the runs largely came on designed pass plays. Tande either found receivers downfield or eluded Shelby's pass rush and broke free on the ground. His long scramble got to the 1-yard line, which allowed him to punch in the short TD moments later.
But a 30 mile per hour wind wreaked havoc on both teams, especially the kicking games. Following Tande's rushing touchdown, the Spartans' wayward kickoff gave Shelby the ball at the Scobey 33-yard line. The Coyotes took advantage, with Cameron Brusven finding the end zone on a long run for the first of his three touchdowns on the day. Following a Scobey fumble, Taylor Parsons hooked up with Tabris Correa moments later to give Shelby a 15-14 lead.
The Coyotes forced a Scobey three-and-out on the next possession, and Scobey's punt traveled only 5 yards, setting Shelby up at the Scobey 27. The Coyotes converted a fourth down and capped the drive with another Brusven touchdown, and it was 22-14 in favor of the Coyotes late in the first half.
That's when Scobey decided to attack through the air. Driving into the wind, the Spartans went to spread formations and quickly moved the ball down the field. Tande used his legs on a big-time scramble to keep the drive alive and then hit 6-foot-5 receiver Caden Handran on a desperation jump ball on fourth down to get the Spartans down to the 3-yard line with 20 seconds left. Tande then hit Parker Cromwell for a short touchdown to tie the game at 22-22 going into halftime.
"There's always like three or four plays that are monumental, but I think what was huge for us was scoring that touchdown right beforehand to tie it up," Berryhill said. "It gave us some juice, some momentum, and then our kids just kind of regrouped on defense and grit their teeth and made some big stops."
The Shelby offense took advantage of another short field early in the third quarter to take a 28-22 lead on another Brusven touchdown run.
Scobey's offense then drove the field and got to the Shelby 3-yard line, but the Coyotes seemed to grab back momentum with a goal-line stand. They took over possession at their own 3 but fumbled on the first play of the drive, giving the ball right back to the Spartans. Tande found his younger brother Boe Tande for a 5-yard touchdown moments later. That gave Scobey a 30-28 lead, and the Spartans would take control from there.
They blocked a field goal on Shelby's next possession, and Colter Oie caught an interception on the next Coyotes' possession. His return set up a 5-yard touchdown pass from Jayce Tande to Handran early in the fourth quarter. That duo connected again six minutes later to go up two scores and seal the 44-28 win.
"(Handran is) a competitor, man. On our last touchdown that put us up two scores on fourth down, he told me, 'Just throw it to me and we'll end this thing,'" Berryhill said. "And when a kid tells you that, do it, because not a lot of people verbalize that want-to. I go, 'Alright, go get it, man.' And he does it. He had a huge game for us."
Scobey will travel to Drummond-Philipsburg for the 8-Man state championship next week. The Titans, who won back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018, defeated Fort Benton 48-14 in the other 8-Man semifinal game on Saturday.
"I ain't watching that film tonight," Berryhill said Saturday. "I'm going to enjoy tonight. I'll worry about that tomorrow."