Neither team could mount much of an offensive thrust and the first quarter was scoreless. It took most of the second quarter before Vermillion put together a drive consisting of two long runs (34 yards by Jerrod Freidel and 18 yards by Mike Oberle), followed by a 50-yard pass from Reid Meierkort to Kylen Freidel. A 3-yard run by Oberle scored the touchdown (the extra point try failed). That amounted to the night's output, as the game was scoreless the rest of the way.
The Tanagers controlled the ball for 15 plays during the third quarter and the Bulldogs made two of their four first downs allowed in the game. Playing their "bend but don't break" theory, the Tanagers were comfortable in allowing the clock to run.
It worked fine until late in the fourth quarter, when a Jordan Richardson punt was partially blocked and Madison had the ball on the Tanager 20-yard line with two minutes to go. That's when the defense came alive and snuffed out the Bulldog thrust on the 11-yard line. The home team then ran out the clock and enjoyed a winning hard-fought struggle.
The Tanager defense was awesome throughout the game (very few solo tackles, mostly gang stops as the following stats will show).
Leading defenseman was Luke Heine – 11 Ts, one for 10 yds loss, one QB sack. Mike Oberle – 10 Ts, fumble recovery. Andrew Eidem – eight Ts. Tom Mollet – 7. Cody Miller – 6 Ts, one for 13 yd loss. Heath Hubert and Nick Mart each had four stops; 14 others were in on at least one tackle. Solo pass defense plays were made by Jerrod Freidel, Reid Meierkort, Tanner Mart, and Jackson Freidel; and Chris Cameron recovered a fumble.
Individual rushing stats
Vermillion ��Jerrod Freidel rushed 19 times times for 76 yards. Mike Oberle rushed 12 times for 33 yards and one TD.
Madison ��Gerard McCarthy rushed 23 times for 92 yards. Cody Hansen rushed five times for 10 yards.
Individual passing stats
Vermillion ��Reid Meierkort completed two of 10 passes for 44 yards.
Madison ��Lance Tolley completed three of 10 passes for 18 yards.
Vermillion ��Kylen Freidel caught one pass for 50 yards. Jerrod Freidel caught one pass for a loss of six yards.
Madison ��Andy Lauck caught two passes for 15 yards. Andrew Strom caught one pass for three yards.
"It's always nice to open the season on the winning side of the ledger," said coach Gary Culver. "The last two seasons, it seems like we always managed a way to lose the closing games.
"This was not the case this time, and I think the experience and veteran leadership that we have was the difference in this game. It was a true defensive battle as evidenced by the total yards gained by each team.
"I thought our defense played very well overall for the first game. We showed great maturity to be able to stop Madison after they blocked our punt late in the fourth quarter for their last offensive possession deep in our territory.
"We showed signs of brilliant play on the offensive side, but we need to develop more consistency throughout an entire game. Offense usually develops more slowly than defense, so we hope to have a lot of improvement by next game. We will need to bolster up our specialty team play in order to have success against a good South Sioux City Cardinal football team this week.
"Overall, I'm pleased with our effort against Madison, and certainly happy for the players to open the season with a win. This win will certainly boost our confidence heading into the game this week."