Vermillion will take a 1-1 record into the DakotaDome Friday night for an East vs. West non-conference tussle with St. Thomas More of Rapid City.
The Cavaliers sent teams to state championship games at the Dome for straight years from 2004 through 2007. Their current team comes to town with a 2-0 record, having outscored a pair of traditionally weak Black Hills opponents by a combined score of 77-0. Kickoff will take place at 5:30 p.m. instead of the usual 7 p.m.
"This will be another great challenge for our team," said Coach Gary Culver, "but I know we will be prepared for the Cavaliers' visit."
Culver's Tanagers fought back from an early 14-0 deficit to take a second-half lead at South Sioux City last week before succumbing to a late Cardinals' score, 20-19.
"I'm extremely proud of the way our kids reacted to being down 14-0 early," Culver noted. "We didn't panic and just stuck with the game plan and chipped away at their lead. We played better defense as the game progressed, and our offense got untracked in the second quarter. We were able to rush the ball pretty effectively from that point."
Two time-consuming possessions by South Sioux City kept the Tanager offense on the sidelines almost all of the first quarter. But in the second period, a 59-yard scamper by Kylen Freidel set up Vermillion deep in the Cardinal red zone. Freidel went over from the 2. The score stayed at 14-7 at halftime because Freidel intercepted a Cardinal aerial at the 10 to stop a serious drive.
Neither team could garner a first down in its first two second-half possessions. The third time the Tanagers had the ball, things began to click. Preston Ellenbolt and Earl Kiertzner ran for successive first downs to reach the 15. Jordan Robinson found the end zone on a run from the 11 with 44 seconds left in the third period, but his missed extra-point kick kept the Tanagers a point short at 14-13.
A costly Cardinal fumble and lost yardage on SSC's next possession forced them to punt. Freidel returned the kick 40 yards for the TD that lifted the Tanagers into a 19-14 lead. Having missed the extra point on the previous score, VHS tried for two points this time, but that effort failed, so the Tanager lead was a shaky five points with 11:09 remaining.
South Sioux responded with an 11-play, 74-yard drive that featured Brandon Stolze carrying five times. He scored the touchdown with 5:54 to go. The Cards missed their two-point conversion try, so the Tanager deficit was a mere 20-19.
The Vermillion offense was stymied with a fumble, a sack and an incompletion so had to punt with 4:36 left. South Sioux managed a crucial first down on their subsequent third-down play and kept marching as time expired.
It would be simple to blame the one-point loss on the missed extra-point attempts, but Culver would have none of that.
"There are so many things you can point to as being the difference, but as I said to the players, we win and lose collectively as a team," Culver said. "We had too many untimely penalties and allowed South Sioux City to convert on too many third-down situations on the defensive side. Conversely we failed to convert on the offensive side on third down."
Freidel had another great game, accounting for 107 of the Tanagers' 165 rushing yards, and he also had a pass reception for 15 yards and the punt return for a TD. Tanner Mart carried five times for 24 yards.
Stolze finished with 124 yards in 24 carries for South Sioux, and Kenny Wasmund, who scored one of the two first-period TDs, gained 45 yards.
It wasn't an all-Mart defense for Vermillion, but Nick, Will, Tanner and Chris collectively made 30 tackles with 10, eight, six and six, respectively. Bennett Johnson also had six tackles and Tyler Husby and Ellenbolt five apiece.
S.S.City ….. 14 0 0 6 — 20
Vermillion ….. 0 7 6 6 — 19
S.S.C.: Kenny Wasmund 1-yd. run (Kyle Hanish kick), 7:07.
S.S.C.: Hanish 3-yd. run (Hanish kick), :14.
VHS: Kylen Freidel 2-yd. run (Jordan Robinson kick), 8:45.?
VHS: Robinson 10-yd. run (kick failed), :44.
VHS: Freidel 41-yd. punt return (run failed), 11:09.
SSC: Brandon Stolze 3-yd. run (run failed), 5:54.
First downs 7 16
Rushes-yards 29-165 50-201
Passing yards 37 85
Total yards 202 286
Passes 2-8-0 7-11-1
Punts-avg. 4-31.3 3-38.3
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 6-37 3-20
Individual rushing: VHS, Freidel 15-107, Tanner Mart 5-24, Preston Ellenbolt 1-11, Robinson 4-9, Earl Kiertzner 3-8, Bennett Johnson 1-6. SSC, Stolze 24-124, Wasmund 12-45, Riley Colwell 5-21, Hanish 5-20, Logan Love 4-(-9).
Individual passing: VHS, Kiertzner 2-8-37-0. SSC, Wasmund 7-11-85-1.
Receiving: VHS, Chris Mart 1-22, Freidel 1-15. SSC, Kaden Moore 4-62, Colwell 1-15, Stolze 1-8, Love 1-0.
Individual defense: Tackles (solo-ass't-total): VHS, Nick Mart 8-2-10, Will Mart 5-3-8, Tanner Mart 6-0-6, Johnson 6-0-6, Chris Mart 3-3-6, Tyler Husby 4-1-5, Ellenbolt 5-0-5, Chase Allen 3-0-3, Dexter Mehlhaf 2-0-2, Freidel 2-0-2, Ben Kozak 2-0-2, Robinson 1-1-2, Carson Sullivan 1-0-1, Nick Anglin 1-0-1, Marquis Knight 1-0-1.
Tackles for loss: Nick Mart 1, Will Mart 1.
Interceptions: Freidel 1.