The Tigers closed out a 4-4 regular season with a 50-0 win over McLaughlin at Tiger Stadium on Friday.
The Tigers got off to a quick start, slowed in the second quarter and then quickly put the game to an end in the third quarter.
“We played pretty good in the first quarter,” said coach Dan Merkel. “The defense started well with Michael Davis getting two picks. We kind of played down to them in the second quarter with mistakes and penalties. We clean those things up and we’ll be all right.”
After receiving the opening kick, McLaughlin came out throwing, but the passes landed in the wrong hands. Davis picked off the Mustang’s second pass attempt and then intercepted their third, setting up the first two Mobridge-Pollock touchdowns.
Nathan Bauer did the honors both times. He scored a 30-yard run for the first touchdown and a 21-yard run for the second.
The Mustangs picked up two first downs on their third possession, but it ended the same as the first two when Parker Blom intercepted a pass. But this time the Tigers could not take advantage as Caden Halsey fumbled at the 23, the Tigers’ first lost fumble of the season.
The defense took care of the next points. A sack by Jason Gerry and a combined sack by Gerry and Bauer pushed the Mustangs back to their own three-yard line, and on fourth down the snap on the punt attempt sailed out of the end zone for a safety.
The Tigers took the free kick and went right to work with Halsey hitting Reese Cerney for a 42-yard touchdown pass on the first play, raising the lead to 22-0 with 2:40 left in the first quarter.
Cerney got the ball back for the Tigers with an interception four plays later. The Tigers again took advantage with Bauer scoring his third touchdown. He ran this one in from 17 yards out, giving the Tigers a 28-0 lead.
The Tigers chewed up a lot of the second quarter on a drive that did not produce any points. After taking the ball at the six, the Tigers drove to midfield, but Bauer dropped the ball and the Tigers lost their second fumble of the game.
The defense forced a punt and the Tigers’ quick-strike offense did its thing with a one-play, 62-yard drive. Halsey and Cerney connected for their second touchdown and the Tigers held a 36-0 lead. It would stay that way until the third quarter.
The Tigers got serious about ending the game after the intermission. They took the kickoff and went 51 yards in four plays. Blom had two carries for 40 yards, setting up Dakota Nickels for a three-yard touchdown run.
McLaughlin went three-and-out and punted. Davis returned the punt 45 yards to the Mustang six and one play later, Halsey ran the ball into the end zone, ending the game at 5:05 in the third quarter.
Merkel said that despite the game being a one-sided affair, he was impressed with how hard the Mustangs played.
“They have a couple of kids I wouldn’t mind having on my team,” said Merkel.
The game was the most one-sided in the running stats. The Tigers piled up 232 yards on 26 carries, averaging nearly nine yards per carry. The Mustangs were held to negative 49 yards rushing. Just one of their eight runs made it past the line of scrimmage.
While Bauer had 90 yards and three touchdowns, Blom led the team with 112 yards on eight carries.
“Parker is looking good,” said Merkel. “He loves the double wing.”
Halsey attempted just eight passes. He completed four, including two to Cerney for 102 yards worth of touchdowns.
With the win the Tigers advance to the postseason. They start things off with an old nemesis. The Tigers play Aberdeen Roncalli in Aberdeen on Thursday.
“We’ve done what we’ve had to do,” said Merkel. “We’re playing pretty well right now and we’re healthy.”
Roncalli scored a touchdown and kicked the game-winning extra point with 4:25 left to beat the Tigers 19-18 on Sept. 8. It was the 15th time in a row the Cavaliers beat the Tigers.
“They’ll play hard and physical and they’ll be confident,” said Merkel.
He said the Tigers must play their game and play it well if they are going to end the long losing streak and advance in the playoffs.
“And don’t give up the big plays,” said Merkel. “They run more trick plays than anyone in the nation.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. following the Pierre vs. Aberdeen Central game, which starts at 5 p.m.
McLaughlin (3-5) 0 0 0- 0
Mobridge-Pollock (4-4) 28 8 14- 50
MP- Nathan Bauer 30 run (Tom Zott kick) 11:29
MP- Bauer 21 run (kick blocked) 9:37
MP- Safety, ball snapped out of end zone 2:49
MP- Reece Cerney 42 pass from Caden Halsey (Zott kick)
MP- Bauer 17 run (kick blocked) :09
MP- Cerney 62 pass from Halsey (Gavin Reinert run) 5:33
MP- Dakota Nickels 3 run (Parker Blom run) 9:48
MP- Caden Haley 6 run 5:05
McLaughlin: Rushing 8-(-49) (Tucson Freeman 2-3, Kyle Martin 2-(-6), Leon Brown Otter III 4-(-46)); Passing (Brown Otter III 10-30-4-102); Receiving (Donovan Two Lance 3-52, Freeman 4-41, Uriah Sitting Dog 1-5, Martin 1-3, Jadyn Carry Moccasin 1-1); 6 first downs; 4 turnovers; penalties 7-55. Defense: Two Lance 2 sacks, blocked kick, Freeman blocked kick, Brown Otter III fumble recovery.
Mobridge-Pollock: Rushing 26-232 (Blom 8-112, Bauer 8-90, Reinert 2-14, Jason Gerry 1-10, Nickels 1-3, Halsey 6-(-7)); Passing (Halsey 4-8-0-134); Receiving (Cerney 2-104, Noah Feyereisen 2-20); 11 first downs; 2 turnovers; penalties 8-70. Defense: Michael Davis 2 interceptions, Blom interception, Cerney interception, Gerry 1.5 sacks, Bauer 1.5 sacks, Trace Cerney sack.