Braving the Elements
In a state with a small, albeit growing, number of AAA schools each of them has some history with all the others whether they're in the East or the West. Tonight's game between Davies and Mandan was a rematch of last year's state semi-final which the Eagles won going away.
This go-around would not be so lopsided.
The Braves got the ball first and didn't waste much time setting the tone for the evening. After getting the ball close to the end zone, they went with a full-fledged power package that included lining Jaxon Duttenhefer up in the backfield. The two-way lineman took the handoff and would not be denied from scoring a touchdown.
After forcing a punt, Mandan had a chance to do what was done to them, or at least that was the chance they had. A fumble that Davies was able to wrangle squashed it, however. It took all of a couple plays before the Eagles gave it right back the same way. Before that fumble, Davies manage to drive within the five so they had a chance to score two on defense but Mandan escaped from the safety zone.
After three straight punts, the Eagles went with a wrinkle of Ty Satter completing a pass to Jack Carlson. The chunk of yards they got from that play propelled them to their first points of the evening, a field goal that snuck over the base of the uprights.
The Braves responded with a 1:21 drive that ended with a field goal of their own to recapture the seven-point lead and leave no time on the clock.
After the break, Davies started with the ball well inside the opponent's end of the field thanks to a long kickoff return by Jack Carlson. A few players later it was Satter on the receiving end of a pass in the endzone to make it a one-point game. An unsuccessful point-after left it at that narrow margin but the defense used the spark to force another punt with a sack on third down, a few plays after a faked punt was converted for a first down. The offense took the ball and it was Carlson making another key play on the way to another field goal, this time much less narrowly scored.
Following a couple more punts, Mandan got the ball back and drove to within the five again. On fourth down, with one yard to go from the two-yard line, Todd Sheldon went with the big man again for the second score of the night by Duttenhefer. The closest comparison I can make for his ability to slam through people is when Mike Tolbert was carrying the ball in the NFL, just too big & strong to be denied for short yardage. After the 2-point conversion failed, the Braves lead by four points.
Davies got another big return off of the kickoff to setup another tricky play call, this time a half-back pass from Carlson to Sam Moser that put them back inside the five. Satter did the rest to get his team the lead again with under three minutes to play.
Mandan didn't need that much time. On a fourth-down & ten, with their backs close to the end line, Dane Carlson made the throw a lifetime, for 21 yards to Aaron Riopelle. A couple of gashing runs by Austin Frey and Mandan was in business for another quick touchdown. Carlson capped it off with another great throw, this time to Elijah Klein, who used all of his 6'7 frame to get into the endzone. But they also left some time on the clock for Davies to get one more touchdown to end a crazy fourth quarter. But Mandan's defense wasn't going to let that happen, getting a stop on fourth down to brave all the elements, avenge last season & celebrate in South Fargo.
Mandan 23, Davies 19
Player of the Game
Getting a legitimate chance to call an OL/DL the player of the game doesn't come along too often but with two touchdowns, it's an easy choice: