Tanagers earn heart-stopping victory over West Central A 35-yard field goal by Adam Brooks in overtime gave the Vermillion Tanagers a heart-stopping victory over the arch-rival West Central Trojans 17-14 in Friday's VHS home opener.
Vermillion fans knew what to expect � a defensive struggle and run-oriented offense by both teams as they faced off in the sweltering heat of the DakotaDome. It took 20 minutes before the Trojans scored on a Josh Mueller 31-yard run power play up the middle.
The Tanagers used 27 plays in the first half (eight passes!) but gained only 64 yards rushing. They were forced to punt twice (one of which was blocked) and had a field goal attempt blocked before going into the locker room trailing 7-0 at halftime.
The opening second half offensive series by the Trojans was stuffed by a swarming, fired-up Tanager defense, forcing a punt which placed the ball near the 50-yard line. On the first play, Tim Broderson was stopped after a short off-tackle run. The second play looked like the first, except Tyler Vacek was streaking down field and Broderson completed a 41-yard pass to him.
Another short run was followed by another pass play. This time it was the quarterback Brandon Benzel for an 18-yard touchdown by Brooks and a tie score of 7-7.
The Trojans came right back for a score when Mueller somehow emerged from a big pileup at the line of scrimmage and raced 25 yards to the 6. After two short gains he found the end zone through a tough-nosed defense at the 1 and his second extra-point kick gave West Central a 7-point lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Tanagers were not ready to roll over and play dead. Since the running game was being stopped by a "10-in-the-box" defense, passing was necessary. Consequently, when Brooks broke open on a slant play, Benzel found him with a perfect 31-yard touchdown pass. Brooks added his second extra-point kick to tie the score with 8 1/2 minutes to play.
The Trojans worked their way down the field with a couple first downs on short runs, followed by a Nathan Morken 29-yard pass to halfback Danny Duerkson. That's when the Vermillion fans got to see � again � the defensive power of the Tanagers as the team stuffed two successive runs for 16 yards total losses and, with half a minute to go, Mueller attempted a 25-yard field goal. The frontline surge forced a quick kick and the ball fell short of the uprights. The Tanagers ran out the few seconds left on the clock and prepared for the overtime.
Vermillion won the toss and elected to be on defense. The Trojans worked their way to the 1 yard line but on the fourth down the Tanagers swarmed en masse and stopped the play cold. The home team had just as bad a time advancing the ball as Benzel was blitzed twice and his arm was hit, spinning him wildly causing the ball to fly backwards out of bounds.
The 35-yard field goal by Brooks ended another heart-stopping game over the arch-rival Trojans 17-14.
"It was a typical West Central-Vermillion football game � hard-hitting and played out for the four quarters plus more," said Tanager Coach Gary Culver. "I thought our kids did a great job of maintaining their composure and never giving up. It was a great high school football game and I don't really believe there was a loser in the contest."
With the win, the varsity record is 1-0 and the Tanagers' next action will be Friday, Sept. 1 as they travel to Winner to take on the Warriors. Kick-off time is 7:30 p.m.
Offensive Individual Stats
Thad Roche rushed 16 times for 62 yards.
Tim Broderson rushed five times for 11 yards and passed 1-1 for 42 yards.
Dan Tolsma rushed once for 2 yards.
Brandon Benzel rushed four times for 9 yards and passed 7-13 for 113 yards.
Receptions: Tim Russell, two for 20 yards; Dan Tolsma, one for 4 yards; Tyler Vacek, two for 85 yards; Broderson, one for 5 yards; Adam Brooks, two for 51 yards.
Defensive Individual Stats
Tackles: Don O'Connor, seven; Oliver Hope, six; Tyler Vacek, six; Anthony Senne, five (and one fumble recovery).