Tanagers lose defensive battle in overtime

Tanagers lose defensive battle in overtime
In the first-ever meeting between the Vermillion Tanagers and the Dell Rapids Quarriers last Friday, Sept. 7, at the Dell Rapids Football Stadium, the Tanagers met a real powerhouse which matched their vaunted defense with a comparable intensity. Both teams were ranked in the top 5 in Class 11A in South Dakota, and the Quariers were the runner up loser in last year's double-overtime championship game won by Canton.

In a reversal of roles from the SSC game, the Tanager defense had to come alive and be forced to keep the game close while the offense struggled against an overpowering home team defense.

It seemed that the Tanagers had their backs to the wall as they played most of the first 45 minutes on the wrong side of the midline field marker. While Dell Rapids took advantage of a Tanager fumble to score their touchdown early in the game, they used the rest of the game trying to overcome the Vermillion defensive wall.

They held the Tanagers to only 50 yards rushing and 42 yards passing through two-thirds of the fourth quarter – until a pass interception by Reid Meierkort, on the Vermillion 25-yard line, changed the momentum.

Three short runs put the ball on the 46, when Meierkort lofted a long pass to Kylen Freidel for a catch and run 54-yard TD. A try for a two-point conversion was thwarted by a penalty, and the extra one-point kick by Meierkort tied the score with 2:36 on the game clock.

The Quarriers were three and out after the change of possession, and the Tanagers had time for a run and a couple of pass attempts, but the time ran out.

The overtime went in Dell's favor as they scored on an end run. The Tanager attempt of a pass was intercepted by Tate Bunkers and the game was over, just like that.

Leading defenseman was Luke Heine – 10 Ts, 1 for loss, 1 pass KD; Heath Hubert – 6 Ts, 1 for loss, fumble recovery; Nick Mart – 6 Ts; Tom Mollet – 6 Ts, 1 for loss; Jerrod Freidel – 5 Ts, 1 pass KD; Cody Miller – 5 Ts; Mike Oberle – 4 Ts, fumble recoverey, and 2 pass KDs; Andrew Eidem – 4 Ts, 1 pass KD; Cory Taggart – 3 Ts, fumble recovery; Reid Meierkort – 1 T, 1 pass intercept.

First quarter

Dell Rapids – Even Hegge: 25-yard pass from Preston Davis (Preston Davis kick); 4:37.

Fourth quarter

Vermillion – Kylen Freidel: 54-yard pass from Reid Meierkort (Reid Meierkort kick); 2:36.


Dell Rapids ��Chris Curry: 10-yard run (kick failed).

Individual rushing stats

Vermillion – Jerrod Freidel rushed 23 times for 60 yards; Mike Oberle rushed seven times for five yards; Luke Heine rushed two times for three yards; Reid Meierkort rushed six times for two yards.

Dell Rapids ��James Ernesti rushed 11 times for 64 yards and two TDs; Chris Curry rushed seven times for 47 yards and one TD.

Individual passing stats

Vermillion ��Reid Meierkort completed five of 14 passes for 96 yards, one TD and two interceptions.

Dell Rapids ��Preston Davis completed three of 11 passes for 50 yards, one TD and one interception.

Receiving stats

Vermillion ��Kylen Freidel caught two passes for 67 yards and one TD; Mike Oberle caught two passes for 19 yards; Jackson Freidel caught one pass for 10 yards.

Dell Rapids – Evan Hegge caught one pass for 10 yards.

Vermillion, which dropped its record to (2-1), will now host the Canton C-Hawks (0-3) for their Tanager Day homecoming game. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in the DakotaDome on Friday, Sept. 14. Dell Rapids, which upped its record to (3-0), host the Madison Bulldogs.

"I'm extremely proud of the way our kids played, especially after getting down 7-0 and not getting any field position the first half of the game," said Tanager coach Gary Culver. "We just hung in there, made some adjustments at halftime, and final some good things started to happen for us.

"We played pretty solid defense throughout the game and didn't let them capitalize on some turnovers we had on the offensive side, especially in the first half. Our offense started to generate some things in the second half and we hit the big pass play to tie the game up and send it into overtime.

"Although we didn't pull out the win in the overtime, I'm really happy with the way our kids battled back and proved that we are a pretty good football team in Class 11A football this season.

"We just have to continue to improve and get a win in our Tanager Day homecoming game this weekend against a dangerous Canton C-Hawk team. Although they have yet to win a game this season, Canton is still the defending Class 11A champions.

"This is a longstanding rivalry between these two teams and it is usually a close, hard-fought contest, no matter what the records of the two teams might be coming into this game. They are always ready to play Vermillion and we want to use homecoming as a great motivation for this game. I know our team will get back on track and be ready to play hard on Friday night."

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