By Parker Knox
Down by 21-7 at halftime, Vermillion pulled to within a single point of South Sioux City with nine minutes left in the game but could never take the lead, and the visiting Cardinals added an insurance touchdown in the final minute to complete a 28-20 victory over the Tanagers at the DakotaDome last Friday night.
"We continue to make improvements as a very young team, but we just need to do it on a more consistent basis throughout an entire game," said Coach Gary Culver. His Tanagers will need such consistency tonight (Friday) as they take their 0-2 record to Tea for a clash with the 2-0 Tea Area Titans, who have obliterated two opponents so far.
"Tea Area caught fire in the second half of last season and seems to be picking up where they left off last year," Culver said. The Titans have won over Bon Homme 41-6 and over Lennox 41-0.
"It will be another great challenge for our kids in terms of our mental and physical preparation," Culver added.
A two-yard run by quarterback Kyle Weiss midway through the third period pulled the Tanagers to within 21-14. Then with 9:02 left in the contest Tanner Anderson was on the receiving end of a 48-yard pass play from Weiss. A missed extra-point kick left Vermillion a point short. Kaleb Comstock's second TD of the night, this one on a 12-yard run with 53 seconds left, lifted the Cardinals to an eight-point winning margin.
South Sioux City had drawn first blood in the final seconds of the initial quarter on an eight-yard pass from Scott Manley to Nate Rogers. Vermillion answered on an 18-yard pass play from Weiss to Anderson. The Cardinals scored twice in the closing minutes of the half on a two-yard plunge by Comstock and a 63-yard pass play between Manley and Michael Offerman to soar into halftime with momentum and a two-score lead.
"We were our own worst enemy," Culver said in assessing the loss. "We had just too many turnovers at crucial times, coupled with procedure penalties which gave us unfavorable down and distance situations to work from throughout the game."
Culver said some mental lapses either led to easy SSC scores or allowed the Cardinals to pick up first downs and continue drives. "South Sioux City has a very good team, but I just felt our team had a very manageable game to deal with, and we made life too easy for them with our costly errors," the coach said.
The Tanagers' ever-improving passing game saw Weiss throwing for 210 yards, completing 12 of 18 pass attempts, but Vermillion's ground game produced only 29 positive yards. Coupled with 21 lost yards on the ground, the net total was only eight rushing yards for the game.
Anderson and Tyler Madsen each had 96 receiving yards and Avery Garcia 18. Offerman caught three passes covering 103 yards for South Sioux as Manley passed for 168 yards.
The Tanager defense was led by Alex Osborne with 13 tackles, Anthony Leber with nine, Ty Iverson with eight and Damarius Cheeseman with seven.
S.S.City ……… 7 14 0 7 — 28
VHS ………….. 0 7 7 6 — 20
SSC: Nate Rogers 8-yd. pass from Scott Manley (Juan Iturbe kick), 0:53.
VHS: Tanner Anderson 18-yd. pass from Kyle Weiss (Alex Robertson kick), 7:24.
SSC: Kaleb Comstock 2-yd. run (Iturbe kick), 4:32.
SSC: Michael Offerman 63-yd. pass from Manley (Iturbe kick), 0:56.
VHS: Weiss 2-yd. run (Robertson kick), 8:11.
VHS: Anderson 48-yd. pass from Weiss (kick failed), 9:02.
SSC: Comstock 12-yd. run (Iturbe kick), 0:53.
First downs 10 12
Rushes-yds. 31-8 36-98
Passing yds. 210 168
Total yds. 218 266
Passes 12-18-1 8-16-0
Punts-avg. 3-36.7 4-25.3
Fumbles-lost 4-2 3-1
Penalties-yds. 5-25 7-40
Rushing: VHS, Tyler Madsen 10-18, Regan Bye 8-11, Michael Sand 3-0, Weiss 10-(-21). SSC, Comstock 22-91, Offerman 9-16, Sammy Flores 2-7, Manley 9-(-16).
Passing: VHS, Weiss 12-18-210, 1 interception. SSC, Manley 8-16-168.
Receiving: VHS, Madsen 6-96, Anderson 5-96, Avery Garcia 1-18. SSC, Offerman 3-103, Kaleb Comstock 3-37, Jordan Comstock 1-20, Rogers 1-8.
Defense (solos-assists-total tackles): VHS, Alex Osborne 6-7-13, Anthony Leber 8-1-9, Ty Iverson 2-6-8, Damarius Cheeseman 2-5-7, Garcia 2-4-6, Nick Jensen 3-2-5, Anderson 3-1-4, Sand 3-1-4, Sseth Heine 1-3-4, Thomas Walker 1-2-3, Madsen 0-3-3, J.T. Sorensen 2-0-2, Bye 1-0-1. Tackles for loss: VHS, Osborne 2, Leber 3, Cheeseman 1, Jensen 1. Fumble recoveries: VHS, IVerson 1, Cheeseman 1. Pass knockdowns: VHS, Anderson 3. Quarterback sacks: VHS, Leber 1, Jensen 1.