Tanager defense prevails with 7-6 win Friday Vermillion Tanager Andrew Pier (26), waits for Cody Hays (42 to provide some protection before cutting upfield in this running play. Pier was key to the Tanagers' victory over Hot Springs by returning a fumble 71 yards for a touchdown. By Jim Prosser Last Friday, Sept. 9, the Vermillion Tanagers varsity football squad was entangled in a real nailbiter as they played a remarkable defensive struggle against the Hot Springs Bison in the DakotaDome.
By employing their typical "bend but don't break" theory, the home team kept the visitors bottled up between the 20 yard lines for most ofthe contest. Overall, the Tanagers surrendered nearly 300 yards in the game, but stopped drives four times with fumble recoveries and a pass interception.
The Bison mounted one scoring attack, going 82 yards on 10 plays, consuming nearly eight minutes late in the second quarter. While they threatened during the remainder of the game,the Tanagers' dominating defense saved the day when Andrew Pier scooped up a fumble and returned it 71 yards for the winning score early in the fourth quarter.
The Tanagers played inspired football and held the opponents to no further scoring.
Defense has always been a Tanager staple and statistics will confirm that. Leading the tackles with nine each were Donny Stewart, Kyle Hubert, and Chris Taylor; Joe Miller and Chonka Wilch each had eight Ts; Tony Kronaizl had seven; Luke Heine had five Ts and one K; and Mike Hanson had four Ts and a fumble recovery.
Wilch recovered a fumble to match Pier's recovery. Jerrod Freidel intercepted a pass to quash the last attempt by the Bison.
HSHS � Cameron Weiss, 1 yard run (kick failed) 4:05.
VHS � Andrew Pier, 71 yard fumble recovery (Jose Nesselhuf kick) 11:11.
VHS � Andrew Pier rushed 14 times for 92 yards. Cody Hays rushed eight times for 29 yards.
Hot Springs � Cameron Weiss rushed 35 times for 155 yards and one TD. Ross Fees rushed nine times for 34 yards.
VHS � Kyle Brunick completed three of seven passes for 31 yards and one interception.
Hot Springs � John Haskvitz completed two of seven passes for 13 yards and one interception.
VHS � Paul Hammond caught one pass for 22 yards. Andrew Pier caught two passes for nine yards.
Hot Springs � Tampus Haskvitz caught one pass for seven yards. Chris Hansen caught one pass for six yards.
"Although we may have lost the battle of the statistics, we came away from the DakotaDome with the most important thing for our team at this time � a win!" said coach Gary Culver. "We just needed this game so badly after suffering close losses in the first two weeks. We hung in there and finally got the big fumble recovery by Andrew Pier for the winning touchdown. I'm really proud of this team and the way they persevered through adversity and got the job done.
"We don't have much time to savor this win," he said, "as we host the top-rated football team in Class 11A � the West Central Trojans. They have had the dominant program in Class 11A the last five years as evidenced with their five consecutive state championships.
"This will be another great challenge for our team this week," coach Culver said, "but I know we will be prepared for T-Day homecoming game."
Vermillion, which upped their record to 1-2, will host West Central for the homecoming game at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the DakotaDome.