Tanagers defeat Cavaliers 25-8

Tanagers defeat Cavaliers 25-8 With both Vermillion and Bon Homme hosting ball-control offenses, Vermillion used a tough defense and strong aerial attack to outdistance the Cavaliers 25-8 Friday night in the DakotaDome.

The Tanagers improved their win to 6-1.

Vermillion virtually shut down the Cavaliers' offense in the first half, allowing them only 47 total yards and the first two downs.

"I thought our defense did a real good job, especially in the first half," said Vermillion Head Coach Gary Culver.

The Cavaliers' first drive started out well as Kris Hallen and Ryan Kortan combined rushes for a first down. After gaining eight more yards, the Tanager defense stopped Hallen on the fourth and two and Vermillion took over on its own 46.

The Tanagers turned to their one-two punch of Justin Griffith and Louis Sitting Crow as they ran for 27 yards.

Jay Merrigan began the aerial assault with an 11-yard completion to James Ofstehage. Merrigan stayed perfect in his passes with a 10-yard scoring strike to Troy Rickord on fourth and three to give Vermillion a 7-0 lead.

Following a Bon Homme punt, the Tanagers drove 60 yards for a first and goal. After Griffith gained two yards and Sitting Crow one, Merrigan threw an incomplete pass to Rickord in the end zone but it was called back because of a holding penalty. On the fourth and 20 the Cavalier defense stepped up as Nathan Lukkes sacked Merrigan.

Bon Homme could not take advantage as Kortan was sacked on third and long and they had to punt.

Vermillion again turned to the air with Merrigan throwing to a wide open Curt Johnson for a 54 yard touchdown and a 13-0 lead.

Bon Homme's offense remained stagnant as the Cavaliers' next two drives ended on a fumble and an interception.

The Tanagers opened up the third quarter with a time-consuming drive. Sitting Crow and Griffith again found holes in the Cavalier line and Merrigan completed a 17-yard pass to Jason Madsen to set up first and goal. Sitting Crow ended the drive with a nine-yard touchdown run for a commanding 19-0 advantage.

The Cavaliers responded with their own clock-eating drive as Dave Balvin and Justin Wagner found success running. Hallen converted a key fourth down to end the third quarter. Wagner finished the seven minute drive with a three-yard run. The two-point conversion cut the lead to 19-8.

Fifty-six seconds later, the margin was back to 25-8 as Sitting Crow broke into the open field and went 74 yards for the score. The teams traded fumbles and Bon Homme was again stopped on downs as the defenses ruled the rest of the game.

Culver was pleased with his team's balance in passing and running.

For Vermillion, Merrigan had 133 yards passing and 10 tackles. Sitting Crow totaled 149 rushing yards and eight tackles. The team had 233 yards on the ground and 150 in the air for 383 total offensive yards.

Bon Homme ran for 89 yards and threw for 30 for 119 offensive yards.

In their regular season finale Friday, Vermillion travels to Winner.

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