TRACY - Tracy-Milroy-Balaton's worst fears came true on the football field Friday night. The Panthers came into the Little Sioux Conference matchup with the knowledge that Minneota/Lincoln HI had multiple offensive weapons and a stout defense, both of which the Vikings showcased in their 41-14 victory over TMB.
Not even the rainy, foggy and windy conditions could slow down the Minneota/LH offense, which recorded 403 yards, including 295 yards rushing, despite the game being called off due to lightning with 7 minutes, 58 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
"They started fast and we knew that was going to come," TMB co-head coach Derek Flann said. "They're always real consistent. They come out and play like this week in and week out. We didn't get up to game speed on defense the whole night. We were a day-late and a dollar-short on everything they threw at us."
Photo by Jenny Kirk
Tracy-Milroy-Balaton’s Brett Swenhaugen runs with the ball while Minneota/Lincoln HI’s Jordan Beck defends during a Little Sioux Conference football game Friday at Tracy.
With the win, the Vikings improve to 6-0 on the season, while the Panthers drop to 4-2.
"Offensively, we did some very good things tonight," Vikings head coach Chad Johnston said. "We still have some things that we have to continue to get better at. But you have to give Tracy credit. They did some things to try and take away what we do well."
Minneota/LH prides itself on being a balanced team with several offensive options.
"That's always our goal and to have that balance," Johnston said. "We're fortunate to have kids in a lot of different spots right now and it is difficult to stop everything."
The Vikings struck first, with Cole Hennen's 6-yard touchdown run less than three minutes into the game, followed by Simon Ankersen's kick through the goal posts.
TMB answered 15 seconds later when Brett Swenhaugen ran for 80 yards on a quarterback keeper. A kick from Tanner Deming knotted the score at 7-all.
It took nine plays, but Minneota/LH was able to take back the lead with 4:30 remaining in the first quarter when Jeff Gladis found the end zone from 18 yards out. The team had to settle for a 13-7 advantage after the kick was blocked by TMB's Kenny Her.
From there, the Vikings went full throttle, recording three additional touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 34-7 lead into the half. Quarterback Austin Buysse found Jordan Beck in the end zone twice, from 7 and 11 yards out, and Hennen scored on a 64-yard run. Beck finished the night with four catches for 49 yards.
"For the most part, I was happy about a lot of things tonight," Johnston said. "I was not happy about the first play from the defense. We did what we did to try to take away what they ran. Everything we did was to try to take away the quarterback running the ball, and we went and let him run for 80 yards, so that was frustrating. But then we settled in and did a good job."
Buysse was 9-for-12 passing for 108 yards, which put him over 1,000 yards passing for the season. Gladis shouldered a hefty amount of the ground work, rushing for 150 yards on 21 carries.
"You can't pass the ball, really, in this weather," Gladis said. "Basically, you gotta run it. Our offensive line was making really good holes. We gave them a big play to open on defense, then our offense just kind of answered. Our defense also made some big plays, but I think we gave them a few too many points. I think we should've been a little better than that."
After coming away with a solid 27-6 win against Dawson-Boyd last week, it was vital to stay focused coming into the game against the Panthers, Gladis said.
"We had to bring a lot of focus," he said. "Coming off a big win last week, we had to come in, keep our cool and get another big win. It's a good team that we played tonight. We just stuck it out."
Johnston wholeheartedly agreed.
"We said right after the Dawson game, 'you don't come out and play a great game like that and turn around and forget about the rest of the season or go backwards,'" Johnston said. "That's something we don't want to do."
The TMB coaching staff lit a fire under the Panthers during halftime, leading the team to not only score its second touchdown, but also keep the offense on the field for almost 10 minutes in the third quarter. TMB finished with 123 rushing and 105 passing yards.
"I don't know what the bill was, but they should've been paying rent in our backfield in the first half," Flann said. "They had three or four guys there the whole time. We kind of let the guys have it a little bit at halftime. We said if they want to be successful in playoff games and be a good seed, to get up and make some noise in our section, we've got to do a better job on the line of scrimmage against good teams."
With 6:38 left in the third quarter, Swenhaugen found Josh Kirk from 24 yards out to cut the Vikings lead down to 20 points. Swenhaugen compiled a total of 80 rushing yards on nine carries in addition to completing 8 of 16 passes for 105 yards, while Kirk had four catches for 47 yards.
River Zvorak then recovered on Deming's on-side kick, though the Panthers were unable to capitalize down in the red zone.
"We came out and played better in that third quarter," Flann said. "We talked at halftime about wiping the score off and winning the second half. We got stopped short, but we were playing even. Unfortunately, the beat us awful bad in the first half."
The final score of the night came on a 1-yard scamper for Minneota/LH's Alec Engler.
"It was a tough night on defense," Flann said. "The offense did some nice things in the second half, moving the ball. They came out, and to the credit of the kids, they didn't quit. They kept playing right up until the end.
"The way Minneota has been handling people this year, it would have been pretty easy for some of the guys to just cash it in. But they kept their nose in it and they gave us the effort that we had hoped for."
Flann was especially pleased with Rickie Jorgenson, who ran down some of his opponents in the second half.
"To go after and run a couple of guys down 15 yards downfield in the third and four quarter, shows a lot of heart," Flann said. "And that's nice to see out of your captains and leaders, to never quit. He was giving everything that was in him. A lot of guys did that tonight."
TMB will continue action on the road Thursday against Russell-Tyler-Ruthton.
"All of these games are important," Flann said. "So we'll go back to work and make some adjustments and put a better football team out on the field next week."
Minneota/LH will host Murray County Central on Thursday.
"With us having to play in a Class A conference and then play a Class AA section, we have to have every win," Johnston said. "They're all going to be big, so we can hope for a 2- or 3-spot, which is where you want to be. You drop one of these, we're guaranteed the 4- or 5-spot, maybe even a 6 possibly, which puts you on a tough road."
Johnston noted that he felt there were at least five solid teams in Section 5AA, which the Vikings will compete in for the first time.
"If you're playing a 4-seed, you're playing a tough team right at the beginning," he said. "So we're trying to get a good seed. It's a big goal."
M/LH13 21 0 7 - 41
TMB7 0 7 0 - 14
M-Cole Hennen 6 run (Simon Ankersen kick good) 9:21
TMB-Brett Swenhaugen 80 run (Tanner Deming kick good) 9:06
M-Jeff Gladis 18 run (kick failed) 4:30
M-Jordan Beck 7 pass from Austin Buysse (Nick Esping pass from Buysse) 11:55
M-Beck 11 pass from Buysse (pass failed) 6:02
M-Hennen 64 run (Ankersen kick good) 2:13
TMB-Josh Kirk 24 pass from Swenhaugen (Deming kick good) 6:38
M-Alec Engler 1 run (Ankersen kick good) 10:10
Rushing: M-Jeff Gladis 21-150; TMB-Brett Swenhaugen 9-80.
Passing (att-comp-yards-int): M-Austin Buysse 9-12-108-0; TMB-Swenhaugen 8-16-105-0.
Receiving: M-Jordan Beck 4-49; TMB-Josh Kirk 4-47.