The Potato Wagon Rolled
When two winless teams meet on a field or court, it could be an easy contest to pass on by casual observers. Well that was the case on Friday night on the Northeast side of Moorhead High as the Sartell Sabres rolled up the road to try and end a two year winless streak. So two would enter and one would exit with a victory.
As the mist threatened to become that solid, white stuff, Sartell took the ball to start but after the first of many holding penalties, were unable to recover and quickly punted the ball away.
Moorhead wasn't even able to get to the point of a punt before suffering their first turnover of the night - a fumble, recovered by Sartell. The Sabres lead off the next possession with a handoff before taking a shot down field that they surely would have taken back if possible. Hudson Hodges was playing the middle of the field and put his receiving skills to use with an impressive interception for Moorhead. After scrambling for a few seconds on the way to the end zone, he went down at the 30.
Now with their second possession of the evening Moorhead took the ball and decided to make a strike. On the first snap Trey Feeney dropped back and slung the ball 24 yards, to the six. Sartell's defense responded to the point of forcing a fourth down inches from the scoring line. They could only hold em for three of the four plays though and Moorhead found itself with a six - zero lead and followed it up with a two point conversion that went their way.
Seeing the scoreboard change from zero's must not have sat well with the visitors because they came back out onto the field and put together their own quality drive. Highlighted by a 28 yard reception by JT Rogers in the mid section of the field and then an eight yard td run by Cody Lantis, the Sabres made it a one point game nearing the end of the first quarter.
As the quarter sign switched, so it the pace of the game. Marred by penalties that had both sidelines yelling, the ensuing possessions for each team went by with little else worth noting.
Then, with less than one handful of minutes left, Sartell got the ball back and even managed to overcome yet another penalty on their way to the red zone. Once the ball was sitting within the 20 though the Spuds defense rallied to hold them from going much further. But they could only hold them from moving closer, Moorhead could not succeed in pushing them out of field goal range. So on fourth and long Sartell tried to take the lead in the waning minutes of the half, Minnesota Football fans are well versed with kicking issues but the snake did not bite last night and the ball sailed smoothly through the process & through the posts.
Now down two points but with nearly two minutes to go, Moorhead had the ball and a chance to do to Sartell but Sartell did to them earlier in the game. Young Feeney & the offense showed that they have a ways to go though and could only manage to take a few seconds off the clock before punting away again.
Gifted with good field position, the Sabres had the chance to extend their newly acquired lead. Three straight pass plays moved them to five yards from six points before going back to the bread & butter of running. Ryan Giguere took the handoff and maneuvered his way through the crowd toward the goal and an eight point lead. Success. With 36.2 seconds remaining the two year drought looked like it was on it's way to ending for Sartell. A nondescript possession by Moorhead and halftime was upon us.
After the 21 minute break had concluded Moorhead had the ball with 67 yards to go. They didn't waste any time imposing their will and showing adjustments. Six straight run plays by Riley Schock & Keanan Wendt later and Moorhead was at the opposite 34. They managed a few more short plays before their offense stalled to the tune of a fourth down and 12. Not to squander the positivity of the early part of the drive, and in 'no man's land' they kept the offense on the field and found their way to points. Feeney dropped back again and found Tommy Horan open in the end zone. After a second successful 2 pt conversion they had a one point deficit for the second time in as many quarters.
The Potato wagon rolled on from there. Sartell's next chance to score lasted two plays before the defense hi-jacked another pass and gave the offense the ball back within 15 yards of the end. Moorhead continued their new plan of running first and running a lot with more handoffs to Schock, the last of which went for points again. They tried for the trifecta on two's but got stopped this time, leaving it a 22 - 17 game for Moorhead.
As quickly as the surge of scoring by the home team came, it went the way of stunted drives again for both team. Three possessions, three punts and then Moorhead had the ball with just under nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
A couple plays later and Riley Schock had six more points to his credit. Another touchdown means that they had another chance for a two point play and they rounded their score out at 30.
Now in desperation time, Sartell had to string some plays together to break the 22 - 0 run that Moorhead was on. They got some much needed breaks along the way but once again fell victim to mistakes which they weren't able to overcome. On fourth & nine they went so far as to try a fake punt. As with basically everything else that half though, it did not work.
In contrast, the Spuds kept their good thing going and continued to pound the ball down field. Schock's dose of carries went even higher but after getting them down to the two, it was Feeney that put the ball in the end zone.
Sartell had one more chance to close the distance before all zeros but to no avail. Even as I was rooting for the local team to win, I was hoping that Sartell's kids could get a well deserved win too. It was a conflict of interest, but well merited. It just can't be any fun to have not won in as long a time as they have and for that level of competition it should be as much about fun as anything. So good for Moorhead! But it was a no lose situation for this neutral observer.
Player of the Game
Photo of the Game
For the rest of the pictures from the game, click the pic!