Tigers hold on to beat Cubs
By Jay Davis
Though battered and bruised and beset with injury, the Tigers dug deep to defeat the Chamberlain Cubs 21-13 in Chamberlain on Friday.
“That win might be the biggest for our program moving forward,” said coach Nathan Lamb. “A beaten up team fought and clawed and found a way to win.”
It was not easy though, as the outcome was not determined until the final play of the game.
The Tigers were simply trying to run out the clock when a bad exchange between quarterback and running back put the ball on the ground. Chamberlain recovered it and the Cubs took the ball on the 49-yard line with 1:25 left to play. The Cubs drove all the way down to the eight-yard line and had two cracks at the end zone during the final 6.6 seconds. The Tiger defense stiffened and Cubs’ quarterback Chris Schwartz threw two incomplete passes, the second coming when the game clock had already clicked to zero.
With an offensive line that has been revamped and recreated every week as the injuries have mounted over the past few games, the Tigers did not have an offense that could march up and down the field, create field position or use long drives to get to the end zone. Instead, the Tigers used the big play to put three touchdowns on the board.
Trailing 7-0 and facing third and 18 on their 25-yard line, the Tigers struck with the long bomb. Alex Greger was dropped back and spotted Mason Keller streaking open. Keller cradled the ball at midfield and raced the last 50 yards for a 75-yard touchdown. Mitch Heumiller’s extra points knotted the game at 7-7 with 2:52 to play in the first quarter.
“Mason ran a wheel route,” said Lamb. “Alex threw a beautiful ball. He’s played well the last two weeks. He’s really matured.”
The Tigers forced the Cubs to punt on the next possession. The result of the kick put the Tigers deep in their own territory, but that would change quickly. On the last play of the first quarter, Greger ran for two yards to put the ball at the 14. On the first play of the second quarter, Austin Borah found an opening on the right side, made a cut and streaked 86 yards for the longest touchdown run of his career. Seconds into the second quarter, the Tigers led 13-7.
“With the new line we only had three running plays,” said Lamb. “We hit that one.”
The next big play came from the defense. Chamberlain took the opening drive of the second half right down the field. With running back Russell Felicia doing most of the damage, the Cubs went 68 yards in 10 plays to get to the one-yard line. The Tigers forced a Felicia fumble on the next play and recovered the ball in the end zone.
The Tigers had their longest sustained drive of the game on the ensuing possession. Starting at the 20, the Tigers drove the first 47 yards with a little help from the Cubs. Greger hit Ethan Kettering for eight yards on the third down, but the play came up short of the first down. The Tigers drew the Cubs offsides to make the first down. Two plays later, Greger found Keller open for 16 yards. Fifteen more yards were tacked on following a late hit by Chamberlain. On the 33-yard line, the Tigers ran a trick play when Keller took and end around and stopped, wheeled and tossed the ball back to a wide open Borah who took the ball into the end zone with 3:56 left in the third quarter. The Tigers went for two and Greger hit Taten Rau for the conversion that gave the Tigers a 21-7 lead.
“We had run a couple plays earlier to set that one up,” said Lamb. “It completely fooled Chamberlain.”
For the next quarter and four minutes, the Tigers fought off a furious Chamberlain running attack. Not only were the Tigers playing without starters, the players on the field were playing tired from having to stay on the field the entire game.
Chamberlain’s second touchdown of the game came on the first play of the fourth quarter when Felicia scored on a one-yard.
Leading 21-13, the Tigers stopped Chamberlain on one possession, forced a fumble on one and then held on at the end to gain the road victory and end the regular season at 4-4.
A trip to the playoffs awaits the Tigers. They only thing that cannot be for sure is, who and where the Tigers will play.
With much of state finishing the regular season on Thursday the Tigers have some time to patch some holes and try to get some people healthy in time for a Tuesday road trip in the first round of the playoffs. The most likely scenario is that the Tigers will make a return trip to Aberdeen to face the undefeated Roncalli Cavaliers.
“It’s nice having this week off,” said Lamb. “I think we can come up with a pretty good game plan.”
Mobridge-Pollock (4-4)7 6 8 0- 21
Chamberlain (2-5)7 0 0 6- 13
C- Russell Felicia 25 run (Jami Walters kick)
MP- Mason Keller 75 pass from Alex Greger (Mitch Heumiller kick)
MP- Austin Borah 86 run (kick failed)
MP- Borah 33 pass from Keller (Taten Rau pass from Greger)
C- Felicia 1 run (kick failed)
Mobridge-Pollock: Rushing 23-105 (Austin Borah 15-121, Taten Rau 1-0, Mason Keller 1-(-2), Alex Greger 6-(-14); Passing 7-14-1-149 (Greger 6-13-1-116, Keller 1-1-0-33); Receiving (Keller 2-19, Mitch Heumiller 3-17, Ethan Kettering 1-8); 4 first downs; 2 turnover.
Chamberlain: Rushing 53-252; Passing (Chris Schwartz 3-9-0-43); Receiving (Russell Felicia 2-34); 17 first downs; 3 turnovers.