The Tigers scored nine points in the first quarter, but failed on three drives into the red zone, allowing Aberdeen Roncalli to take over in the second half and defeat Mobridge-Pollock 27-9 in the 11B playoffs in Aberdeen on Thursday.
“Which half do you want to talk about?” asked coach Dan Merkel. “The first half was pretty good. We just needed to score on our opportunities. The second half we didn’t see what we wanted to see.”
Fortune smiled upon the Tigers in the early going when Roncalli fumbled the ball on the opening kickoff. Noah Feyereisen recovered the ball at the Aberdeen 41, setting up the Tigers for a touchdown drive. The Tigers covered the yardage in seven plays with Parker Blom pushing his way across the goal line for a one-yard touchdown run, giving the Tigers a 6-0 lead with 9:29 left in the first quarter. Dylan Cerney had two carries and a pass reception for 28 yards on the drive.
Roncalli responded with a reverse on the next kickoff. It worked for 45 yards. The Cavaliers carried the big play and turned it into a five-yard Jaden Karst touchdown that gave Roncalli a 7-6 lead minutes later.
On the Tigers’ next possession, Nathan Bauer got things going with a 19-yard run and a 16-yard catch to get the Tigers into scoring position, but the drive stalled. The end result was three points as Tom Zott kicked the first field goal of his career. The foreign exchange student’s 34-yard field goal gave the Tigers a 9-7 lead with 2:23 left in the first quarter.
The Tigers ran up and down the field in the second quarter, but could not put points on the board. They drove deep inside Roncalli territory, but could not finish their drives after reaching first and goal. The first drive ended with a run for a loss, a quarterback sack and two incomplete passes. The second ended with back-to-back penalties and a sack and a blocked field goal.
“We just couldn’t finish a drive,” said Merkel.
The Tigers took the ball to start the second half. Their drive stalled at midfield when the Tigers failed to convert on fourth down.
The Cavaliers scored three plays to take a 13-9 lead. Karst scored from two yards out for his second touchdown.
The Tigers drove 56 yards on the ensuing drive, but like their last two of the first half, it stalled deep in scoring territory. The Tigers reached first and goal at the seven, but could only gain five on the needed yards the next four plays.
Roncalli earned enough yards to change field possession on their drive. It was a turning point. They picked off a Tiger pass after their punt and then went into the end zone to push their lead to 20-9 with 11:12 left in the game. Karst ran it in from 22 yards out for his third score of the game.
The Tigers were stopped on a couple of drives and stopped Roncalli on a couple more, before the Cavaliers salted the win away with a Brady Morgan touchdown run with 51 seconds left.
“For the most part, our effort was pretty darn good,” said Merkel. “Roncalli made some adjustments and took over in the second half.
The Tigers ran for 228 yards and passed for 96 in the game. Cerney had 83 yards rushing and 28 yards receiving. Bauer ran for 68 yards and caught passes for 57 yards. Blom finished with 73 yards rushing.
Roncalli answered with 160 yards on the ground and 131 through the air. Karst ran for 79 yards. Morgan did the passing, hitting Grant Gunderson for a game-high 59 yards.
Roncalli advances to the quarterfinals where they will take on the number one team in state. The Cavaliers will square off against 9-0 Sioux Valley in Volga on Thursday.
Mobridge-Pollock (4-5) 9 0 0 0- 9
Aberdeen Roncalli (5-4) 7 0 6 14- 27
MP- Parker Blom 1 run (Tom Zott kick)
AR- Jaden Karst 5 run (Gavin Heier kick)
MP- Zott 34 field goal
AR- Karst 2 run (kick blocked)
AR- Karst 22 run (Heier kick)
AR- Brady Morgan 13 run (Heier kick)
Mobridge-Pollock: Rushing 48-228 (Dylan Cerney 12-83, Blom 19-73, Nathan Bauer 12-68, Caden Halsey 4-9, Noah Feyereisen 1-(-5)); Passing (Halsey 9-15-1-96); Receiving (Bauer 4-57, D. Cerney 3-28, Feyereisen -15, Reese Cerney 1-(-6)); 17 first downs; 2 turnovers; penalties 6-45.
Aberdeen Roncalli: Rushing 35-160 (Karst 15-79, Gabe Torbert 13-67, Morgan 4-17, Grant Gunderson 3-(-4)); Passing (Morgan 8-19-1-131); Receiving (Gunderson 3-59, Andrew Buechler 3-36, Karst 1-28, Nehemiah Becker 1-8); 15 first downs; 2 turnovers; penalties 3-20.