Tanagers' season comes to abrupt halt with 17-13 defeat by Lennox A pass interception and two fumble recoveries by the Lennox Orioles resulted in two scores for the visitors as the Tanagers were stopped 17-13 on their anticipated road to another state championship attempt.
Lennox's Ryan Rothenberger scored on a 12-yard pass from Ryan Kruse following the first Vermillion score by Brandon Benzel's QB sneak which left the score tied at the half 7-7.
It appeared that this would be a different "typical" Tanager/Oriole football ending (16 straight Vermillion wins in the past 14 years). The vaunted defense of the home team was met with an equally intense opponent and much of the game was comprised of "three and out" possessions by each team.
The Tanagers did mount two 80-yard drives for scores � a nine-play, four-minute, second quarter result; and a seven-play 3:13-minute, third quarter score capped by Dan Tolsma's seven-yard run. Lennox took advantage of a "short field" position as the visitors used six plays covering 50 yards and 1:20 minutes for their first TD and a five-play, 16-yard 1:41-minute drive topped by Eric Rhodes' two-yard TD run. Adam Brooks kicked the VHS extra points and Zeb Anderson contributed the EP scores for LHS.
The score remained tied at 14-14 throughout the fourth quarter until some last-minute heroics by the Orioles. In the change of possession process, Lennox gained field position by punting out of bounds. And after holding the Tanagers, deep in their own territory, were able to take advantage of the "short field." Using some well-timed pass and run plays the Orioles were able to move the ball to the 15-yard line from which a 32-yard field goal by Zeb Anderson ended the game at 17-14.
Individual offensive stats: Dan Tolsma rushed 21 times for 149 yards and one TD; Thad Roche rushed 18 times for 53 yards; Branden Benzel completed four of seven passes for 41 yards and Tim Russell caught one for 11 while Adam Brooks went 31 yards on his catch.
The defensive statistics were again dominated by the linebackers, cornerbacks, and safeties, since Lennox passes made up the bulk of their offense! Tyler Vacek had three tackles, seven pass breakups, one pass interception; Eric Rickord recorded 12 stops, and broke up two pass attempts; Anthony Senne � seven tackles; Tim Brodersen � four tackles; and Dave Hanson � four stops and one pass breakup.
"It was a very tough loss for our team, especially the seniors," said Coach Gary Culver. "That's the one bad part about playoff games � you never know when it will be your final game of the year.
"But we have to give credit to a fine Lennox team," he continued. "They put together a nearly perfect game against us. We played a 'very good' game, but Lennox played a 'great' game.The turnovers, combined with poor field position throughout the night, really proved to be our downfall.
"But I'm so happy about the great season our kids had this year," Culver added. "They have nothing to hang their heads about. Our guys played hard all season long and it's attributed to the great senior leadership we had on the team. It's tough to lose a great bunch of seniors like this, but I know they'll take the lessons learned and carry them throughout their life. The underclassmen can loon forward to another season with new goals and a greater determination to go a step further.