Backup quarterback Cayden Eisemann found Reese Cerney in the back of the end zone with 15 seconds left to lift the Tigers to a come-from-behind 27-20 win over Sisseton in Sisseton on Friday.
“I’m extremely proud of my guys,” said coach Paul Goehring. “It shows the way these kids are. It shows their fight. They weren’t about to let this one go.”
The Tigers trailed the Redmen most of the night. Sisseton held a 20-12 lead and had the ball with seven minutes left. The Tiger defense forced a three-and-out and after the punt, were 47 yards from the end zone with five minutes left. Runs by Caden Halsey and Gavin Reinert garnered one first down. On first down, Halsey found Braden Goehring in the flat for a six-yard gain that turned into 21 yards and a first down at the Sisseton 13 after a Redman tackler was charged with a horse collar tackle.
Things, however looked dire when on the next play, a three-yard run by Halsey was dampened when a holding penalty was called and the Tiger quarterback suffered a knee injury. In came Eisemann. Two unsuccessful plays and a delay of game call later, the Tigers were looking at third and 28 from the 31-yard line.
The dire feeling went away when Eisemann hit Cerney in stride on the corner of the end zone to draw the Tigers within 20-18 with two minutes to play. Eisemann found Trace Cerney open in the other corner of the end zone for the game-tying two-point conversion.
“Once we tied the game, I felt like we were going to win,” said Goehring, “one way or another.”
With momentum back on the Tigers’ side, the defense again rose to the occasion. The Tigers dropped Redmen backs behind the line of scrimmage on two straight plays, setting up third and 16. Sisseton tried a trick play on third and long. It did not work. Wideout Ty Peterson launched a pass that Reese Cerney intercepted and returned to the Tiger 39-yard line, giving the Tigers 1:02 to get the winning touchdown.
Braden and Bryston Goehring combined for three catches that covered 35 yards to get the Tigers close.
“They did a good job of getting out of bounds,” said Goehring of the three catches that not only got the Tigers close, but also saved the use of time outs.
After one incomplete pass, Eisemann and Reese Cerney hooked up for the game-winning touchdown.
“I’m extremely pleased with how Eisemann stepped in,” said Goehring. “He was throwing darts.”
After Sisseton had spent the night doing their best to take Reese Cerney of the game, the senior finished with three catches, one carry for the game’s opening touchdown, the game tying and game winning touchdowns and the interception that set up the game-winning drive.
“Reese’s leadership and the plays he made were huge,” said Goehring.
The game started swimmingly for the Tigers. They took the opening kickoff and drove 83 yards in nine plays to take an early 6-0 lead. But late in the first quarter, Sisseton picked off a pass and used the ensuing drive to take an 8-6 lead on a two-yard Anthony Tchida touchdown.
After forcing the Tigers to turn the ball over on downs, the Redmen ate up the rest of the half with a 14-play, 64-yard drive. Tchida scored the touchdown with 18 seconds left in half to five the Redmen a 14-6 lead at the intermission.
The Tigers drew to within 14-12 on Halsey’s nine-yard touchdown run with 31 seconds left in the third quarter only to have Sisseton’s Elijah Kowalzek take the ensuing kickoff back 79 yards for the Redmen’s third touchdown of the game.
The job the Tiger defense did in the second half was a huge part of the comeback win. After Sisseton gained 136 yards of offense in the first half, the Tigers held the Redmen to just 14 yards and zero first downs in the second half.
“We switched to a six-man line,” said Goehring. The move effectively took the Redmen’s ability to get their linemen to the Tigers’ linebackers away.
The Tigers answered with 342 yards offense. Halsey ran for 95 yards and threw for 90. Eisemann came in to throw for 70 yards. Reinert had 80 yards rushing, while the Goehring twins combined for 10 catches worth 111 yards.
As for Halsey’s injury, Goehring doesn’t know if his senior signal caller will be ready to go by Friday or not.
“He’s a little dinged up,” said Goehring. “He’ll be sore this week.”
On the defensive side, Trace Cerney and Eisemann led the way with 9.5 and 7.5 tackles, respectively.
Hudson Filler recovered two Sisseton fumbles.
The Tigers take their 5-0 record up against another undefeated team in the Webster Area Bearcats in Webster on Friday.
Webster Area is ranked third in both the coaches and media Class 11B football polls this week. The Tigers are ranked sixth by the media and seventh by the coaches.
Webster has been rolling over their opponents, including a 46-0 win over Milbank on Friday. The Bearcats are a big, physical team that likes to run the ball.
“Sisseton was a great wakeup call before playing Webster,” said Goehring. “They are definitely a good, athletic team.”
But Goehring has a feeling his Tigers learned something about themselves in Sisseton and will be ready for the challenge.
“The kids are excited for the opportunity,” said Goehring.
This is the 18th game between the Tigers and Bearcats but the first since 2012. The Tigers are 10-7 in the series. In 2011, the Tigers won a 28-6 game in Webster only to have the Bearcats turn around and win a 21-14 game at Tiger Stadium in 2012.
Mobridge-Pollock (5-0) 6 0 6 15-27
Sisseton (4-2) 0 14 6 0- 20
MP- Reese Cerney 3 run (kick blocked)
S- Anthony Tchida 2 run (Carter Schaunaman run)
S- Tchida 1 run (conversion failed)
MP- Caden Halsey 9 run (conversion failed)
S- Elijah Kowalzek 79 kickoff return (conversion failed)
MP- R. Cerney 31 pass from Cayden Eisemann (Trace Cerney pass from Eisemann)
MP- R. Cerney 4 pass from Eisemann (Paul Mueller kick)
Mobridge-Pollock: Rushing 32-182 (Halsey 14-95, Gavin Reinert 15-80, Bryston Goehring 1-4, R. Cerney 1-3, Braden Goehring 1-0); Passing 16-26-2-160 (Halsey 10-17-2-90, Eisemann 6-9-0-70); Receiving (Bryston Goehring 3-68, Braden Goehring 7-43. R. Cerney 3-43, Reinert 3-6); 20 first downs; 2 turnovers; 6-50 penalties. Defense: T. Cerney 9.5 tackles, Eisemann 7.5 tackles, Josh Norder 5 tackles, Kregen Norder 4 tackles, Tucker Holzer 4 tackles, Zane Reinert 3 tackles, R. Cerney interception, Hudson Filler two fumble recoveries.
Sisseton: Rushing 38-110 (Tchida 17-52, Kowalzek 15-33, Mathew Moen 4-21, Isiah Grimm 1-4, Carter Schaunaman 1-0); Passing 6-12-1-40 (Tchida 6-11-0-40, Ty Peterson 0-0-1-0); Receiving (Grimm 2-20, Kowalzek 3-10, Dylan Goodheart 1-10); 10 first downs; 3 turnovers; 13-110 penalties. Defense: Schaunaman 7 tackles, Levi Greseth 7 tackles, Kowalzek 5 tackles, Moen 5 tackles, Anthony Benda interception, Sage Flute interception.