Tigers flash past Lions after lightning delay
By Jay Davis
The first football game under new head coach Nathan Lamb was one to remember. Not just because the Tigers fought back from a halftime deficit to defeat Linton-HMB 18-14 at Tiger Stadium on Friday, but also because the game did not end until 11:14 p.m. due to a 90-minute lightning delay.
While the weather stopped play for a while, it was the play of the Tigers after the long intermission that counted. After Linton-HMB built a 14-6 lead at the half, Mobridge-Pollock rallied with two second-half touchdowns to produce the victory.
Lamb is cautiously optimistic about the win, but points to team improvement as the key to taking care of business as the season progresses.
“Everything is still pretty new to these guys,” said Lamb. “They are still getting their assignments and techniques. Fundamentals are the basis of practice this week.”
The Tigers got off to an auspicious start as the first two plays from scrimmage were runs of 13 and 12 yards. But Austin Borah had the ball stripped away on his second carry and Linton-HMB recovered at midfield.
The Tiger defense held on for that possession, but were forced to punt the ball back, giving the Lions excellent field position just 31 yards from the Tiger end zone. The Lions got the ball close on the first play with a 29-yard, Brooks Flyberg to Jordan Gross pass play. The Mobridge-Pollock defense stood firm, but Linton-HMB punched the ball over on fourth and goal on a one-yard run by Mike Oien. Daniel Roberts thwarted the extra point attempt by blocking the kick, but the Lions led 6-0 with six minutes on the first-quarter clock.
The Tigers answered two possessions later. Cody Schaefbauer put his team in scoring position with a 35-yard punt return to the Linton-HMB 45. Two plays later, Alex Greger hit Mason Keller on a bubble screen. The Tigers executed the play just right and Keller broke away for a 34-yard touchdown scamper, tying the game at 6-6 with 1:31 left in the first quarter.
The second quarter was uneventful until lightning filled the air at 8 p.m., with 8:28 left on the clock. Play did not resume until 9:30.
The Lions took the lead with 2:53 left in the half on a drive that should have been over before it started. The Lions were facing fourth and 14 and punting. The snap was bad and the punter was tackled, only to be face-masked. On the ensuing fourth down play, Linton-HMB faked the punt and completed a 15-yard pass for a first down. Oien broke off the right side and ran 29 yards untouched into the end zone. With the two-point conversion, the Lions held an eight-point lead when the first half ended.
The Tigers opened the second half with Borah taking off on a 40-yard run, but the offense could not finish the drive. The second Tiger possession looked to be going nowhere when Lamb reached into his bag of tricks on fourth and six from the Linton-HMB 40.
The Tigers came out in regular punt formation, but the snap went to Keller who handed off the Schaefbauer. Caught by surprise, Linton-HMB could only chase Schaefbauer as he tore down the sideline and into the end zone. At 7:36 of the third quarter, the Tigers were back within two at 14-12.
“That was huge,” said Lamb. “We knew we wanted to run it and we were in the right place on the field.”
The Tigers struck quickly on their next possession to score the eventual winning points. Greger rolled out and hit Taten Rau for 13 yards on first and 15, and then dropped straight back and threw a perfect fade to Keller. The wide out snared the pass and sauntered into the end zone. The Tigers held an 18-14 lead, but had to protect that lead nearly a quarter and a half.
The Tiger defense took over and stopped Linton-HMB on four straight possessions. The Lions drove all the way down to the Tiger eight-yard-line with 7:16 left in the game, but Cody Hanson put an end to that drive by picking off a Flyberg pass and running the ball back to the 26-yard-line. The Lions picked up two first downs on their last drive, but the Tigers snuffed that out just past midfield and held the ball for the rest of the game.
While the offense and special teams came up with the big plays that put the Tigers over the top, it was the defense that shut down the Lions for two and a half quarters.
“As our technique got better, we played better defense,” said Lamb.
Especially strong was the run defense. The Tigers held Linton-HMB to 82 yards on 33 carries for an average of just 2.4 yards per carry.
“They played well and we expect them to get better,” said Lamb.
Daniels led the defense with eight tackles, a sack and the blocked kick. Rau had eight tackles and Jordan Feist had six.
Borah, Keller and Greger led the offense. Borah ran for 105 yards. Greger threw for 139 yards and two touchdowns, despite two interceptions. Keller caught six balls for 129 yards.
“If we play as a team and do the little things right, we’ll keep getting better and better,” said Lamb.
The Tigers will face an old nemesison Friday when they take on the Roncalli Cavaliers in the opening game of the Hub City Bowl at New Swisher Field in Aberdeen. The Tigers kick off at 5 p.m. Aberdeen Central and Pierre will follow at 8 p.m.
“It’s a challenge we’re looking forward to,” said Lamb. “Everybody respects their football. The way they play and the way they are coached, they have earned that respect. It’s a good test.”
The Tigers are just 4-15 all-time against the Cavaliers and all four wins have come at home. The Tigers have lost all eight trips to play Roncalli. The Cavaliers have won seven straight in the series since the Tigers won a 15-6 game in 1998.
Linton-HMB (0-1) 6 8 0 0- 14
Mobridge-Pollock (1-0) 6 0 12 0- 18
LHMB- Mike Oien 1 run (kick blocked)
MP- Mason Keller 44 pass from Alex Greger (kick failed)
LHMB- Oien 29 run (Aloysis Gefroh pass from Brooks Flyberg)
MP- Cody Schaefbauer 40 run (conversion failed)
MP- Keller 28 pass from Greger (conversion failed)
Linton-HMB: Rushing 33-82 (Brock Nagel 16-64, Mike Oien 11-35, Brooks Flyberg 7-(-17); Passing 11-23-101 (Flyberg 10-21-1-86, Aloysius Gefroh 1-1-15, Rylan Jacob 0-1); Receiving: Ryan Schneider 4-37, Jordan Gross 3-42, Nagel 3-7, Aloysius Gefroh 1-15); 10 first downs.
Mobridge-Pollock: Rushing 28-140 (Austin Borah 22-105, Cody Schaefbauer 1-40, Jordan Feist 3-7, Alex Greger 2-(-12); Passing (Greger 8-20-139); Receiving: Mason Keller 6-129, Taten Rau 1-13, Borah 1-(-3); 5 first downs. Defense: Daniel Roberts 8 tackles, sack, blocked extra point, Rau 8 tackles, Feist 6 tackles, Schaefbauer 5 tackles, Pearson Wientjes 5 tackles, Teddy Lopez 4 tackles, sack, Brady Spiry, 3 tackles, sack.