Critical mistakes lead to end of VHS win streak

Critical mistakes lead to end of VHS win streak You don't need an alibi for losing a hard-fought defensive overtime game against a worthy opponent.

But a three-day "environmental vacation" seemed to take the Tanagers out of sync and more-than-usual mental errors slowed down their offensive game while giving the Buccaneers, from Blue Earth (MN) Area High School, too many opportunities to throw the football.

The Tanagers fumbled at near midfield on their third play of the game and the Buccaneers' Jay Fredrickson scooped up the ball and returned it 54 yards for a touchdown.

Vermillion was able to regroup and scored three TD's in the second quarter � two on short runs by Thad Roche and a 12-yard pass reception by Tim Russell from Brandon Benzel.

Adam Brooks kicked 2 extra points and the defense kept Blue Earth out of the endzone except for T.J. Schmidtke's three-yard run on a quarterback keeper with :22 left until halftime.

The third quarter belonged to the Tanagers as they controlled the Blue Earth passing game and allowed only four yards rushing while using three passes for big gainers to keep the Buccaneers at bay. In fact, the Vermillion ground game took over and used most of the fourth quarter time before the visitors tied the score with a TD and 2-point conversion � each on passes, with 8:53 left in the game.

Dan Tolsma scored on a three-yard run and Brooks kicked the extra point at 4:36 on the clock to make the score 27-20 and a victory seemed to be in sight. But the passing game of the Buccaneers was equal to the task and Schmidtke found Aaron Wendt for a 23-yard TD and the extra point kick was good to tie the score with less than a minute to go.

The Tanagers tried a couple of pass plays but time ran out and the game went to overtime. BEHS went on offense first and the same passing tandem for the previous score did it again on their first play. The extra point try failed but that was little matter since the Tanagers couldn't cross the goal on their four-down try and the 33-27 score on the north scoreboard tolled the end of a 17-game winning streak.

Individual offensive stats: Roche rushed 32 times for 172 yards; Tolsma carried 11 times for 57 yards; Eric Rickord � two for 14 yards; Brooks � one for 13; Tyler Vacek � two for nine. Benzel completed three of eight passes for 60 yards; and Rickord was one of two for seven yards. Russell caught two passes for 24 yards, and Tolsma caught two for 43 yards.

Defense Stats: Tim Brodersen � seven tackles; Brooks � six tackles, four pass break-ups; Benzel � five tackles, blocked punt; Anthony Senne five tackles, one for a loss; Oliver Hope � five tackles; Vacek � four tackles four pass breakups; Rickord � two tackles, one pass breakup, pass interception; Clint Christensen � four tackles, one for a loss.

"We were our own worst enemy in this game with penalties, turnovers and mental mistakes," said Coach Gary Culver. "We shot ourselves in the foot too many times against a very good team and when you do that it makes it very difficult to win. Hopefully we can learn from this game and become a better team.

"We face a very good Chamberlain Cub team next week that has some excellent skill position players similar to Blue Earth," Culver continued. "It will be a great challenge for our players."

With the loss, Vermillion's 17-game winning streak, the longest in the state, comes to an abrupt halt. The Tanagers, ranked #1 in Class 11A, see their record drop to 5-1. They will next be in action as they host the Chamberlain Cubs in the Dakota Dome on Friday, Oct. 6. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. It will be Parents' Night for the Vermillion football team.

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