(Photo by David Lias)
By Parker Knox
A five-game winning streak over Madison came to an end Friday, and so did the Vermillion Tanagers' season.
The visiting Bulldogs compiled a 33-0 halftime lead on the way to a 40-8 win over the Tanagers in Big 8 Conference play.
Because they have a bye in the final week of the regular season this week, the Tanagers' winless year ended much earlier than usual.
Madison used up half of the first quarter on its first drive, going 71 yards in 12 plays. Rush Milne, who came into the game as the Bulldogs' leading ground gainer by a wide margin, carried the ball on the first five plays, then left due to injury and did not return, but his team did just fine without him.
A short punt plus a return set up Madison with a 37-yard field on its second possession, which ended in a touchdown pass play.
The Tanager defense rose up on the Bulldogs' third possession. Two defensive stops by Alex Osborne and a pass tipped away by Anthony Leber forced the first of only two punts Madison would have to make in the game.
The Tanager offense, which again had little time in which to operate, gained a pair of first downs as the game entered the second period, but that series and the next ended in punts. The next saw the ball fumbled away. On the last possession of the first half Vermillion used a 33-yard pass from Kyle Weiss to J.T. Sorensen to reach the Bulldog 15-yard line with 28 seconds left till halftime, but three passes fell incomplete, and time expired.
There was no third-quarter scoring. Madison scored once in the fourth period. The only Vermillion score came with 25 seconds left when two of the team's seven seniors concluded Senior Night and their VHS careers with a positive moment. Weiss' pass to Tanner Anderson covered 23 yards and resulted in a score. Anderson also ran in the two-point conversion.
Osborne, another of the seniors, left his mark all over the DakotaDome field, recording 10 solo tackles and seven assists. Other seniors on the squad were Avery Garcia, who unfortunately had to watch his final game from the sidelines due to a knee injury; Sorensen, Michael Sand, Leber and Thomas Walker.
"We will certainly miss the seven seniors who have provided us with great leadership throughout the season," Coach Gary Culver said. "I know they will take the lessons learned in football as they go through life."
A season-long struggle to keep onrushing defenses from reaching the offense continued as the Tanagers were able to gain only 16 net yards on the ground. Weiss passed for 112 yards, completing eight of 19 aerials.
"The game was a microcosm of the entire season as turnovers and big plays continued to haunt us like a bad dream," Culver noted. "Our players played very hard, but Madison has so many excellent skill position players that can hurt you in so many ways, and we gave up too many big plays to them."
The Tanagers scored 20 points against South Sioux City and six against Dakota Valley besides the eight in the Madison game but were shut out five times. The fact that in seven of the eight games the opponent scored more points than Vermillion did all season (34) made it a long, frustrating year for the Tanagers.
This will be only the second time in the past 26 seasons that the Tanagers have failed to qualify for the postseason playoffs. The other time was 2005.
Madison 13 20 0 7 — 40
VHS 0 0 0 8 — 8
MHS: Mason Hemmer 1-yard run (Trevor Holbrook kick), 7:47.
MHS: Brendon Waldner 20-yard pass from Jacob Giles (kick failed), 5:01.
MHS: Hemmer 12-yard run (Holbrook kick), 8:01.
MHS: Waldner 47-yard punt return (kick blocked), 5:35.
MHS: Jacob Ricke 21-yard pass from Giles (Holbrook kick), 2:32.
MHS: Giles 1-yard run (Holbrook kick), 7:17.
VHS: Tanner Anderson 23-yard pass from Kyle Weiss (Anderson run), 0:25.
First downs 6 15
Rushes-yards 27-16 38-91
Passing yards 112 118
Total yards 128 209
Passes 8-20-1 11-16-0
Punts-avg. 7-34.3 2-34.0
Fumbles-lost 2-2 1-1
Penalties-yards 6-56 5-40
Rushing: VHS, Michael Sand 5-14, Tyler Madsen 8-7, Regan Bye 4-4, Weiss 5-3, Anderson 5-(-12). Madison, Hemmer 14-60, Brodie Fredericksen 10-29, Rush Milne 5-21, Waldner 4-10, Giles 6-(-4), Sean Nielsen 1-(-25).
Passing: VHS, Weiss 8-19-112, Anderson 0-1 with 1 interception. Madison, Giles 11-16-118.
Receiving: VHS, Anderson 4-59, T.J. Sorensen 2-40, Anthony Leber 1-9, Sand 1-4. Madison, Waldner 4-44, Ricke 3-53, Holbrook 2-25, Ian Mackenzie 2-(-4).
Defense (solos-assists-total tackles): VHS, Alex Osborne 10-7-17, Seth Heine 0-10-10, Leber 0-7-7, Madsen 1-6-7, Ty Iverson 1-4-5, Sand 2-2-4, Sorensen 2-1-3, Jason Retzlaff 1-2-3, Anderson 2-0-2, Thomas Walker 2-0-2, Nick Jensen 2-0-2, Travis Weber 2-0-2, Bye 0-1-1, Weiss 1-0-1, Brandon Mockler 1-0-1. Tackles for loss: Osborne 1, Jensen 1, Weber 1. Fumble recoveries: Anderson 1. Pass knockdowns: Madsen 1. Sacks: Osborne 1.