By Rob Nielsen
MADISON — An inauspicious start for the Vermillion Tanagers set the tone for the remainder of the game. On the first play of the game, quarterback Carter Kratz fumbled the ball, recovering it for a loss of five yards on their way to a 54-11 loss to the top-seeded 11A Madison Bulldogs. The victory sends Madison to the third round of the playoffs this Saturday, and Vermillion home for another offseason.
Despite the tough loss, Vermillion head coach Andy Homan said he was impressed with the effort he saw from his team.
“I think they did good,” Homan said. “You come out of halftime like that when you’re down – the kids could’ve just gave up – but they kept fighting the whole time.
The Tanagers allowed an early Bulldog touchdown following a botched punt but managed to hold them to seven points in the first quarter. Then, without even taking a full minute off the clock in the second quarter, the Bulldogs tacked on two more touchdowns; once on a 75 yard carry by Rush Milne, the other coming after Vermillion QB Carter Kratz was picked off by Isaac Schubert of the Bulldogs. Milne would end the night with 207 yards and five touchdowns.
An Ethan James field goal put the Tanagers on the board with 4:21 left in the first half. By halftime, the Bulldogs had taken a 41-3 lead. Vermillion had a net loss of 18 yards on the ground in the first half, only managing to gain back eight of them by the end of the game.
With Madison threatening once again late in the 3rd quarter, the Tanagers spring to life, forcing a Madison fumble which was recovered by Vermillion’s Regan Bye and returned 85 yards for the Tanagers first and only touchdown.
The game was the end of Vermillion’s playoff run a week after defeating Dakota Valley 8-0 in the first round. In total, the Tanagers were out-gained offensively 485 yards to 125.
Coach Homan noted that ultimately, the game was a win-win for the school, despite the score, following the team’s surprise success of the first round.
“I just told them to come out here and play,” he said. “We’re not supposed to be here anyways, if we lose, we lose, if not then we did another great upset. It was a win-win for us.”
Homan emphasized there were many positives the team will build on from this season.
“Offensively, we put up some yards, defensively, we played some good games,” he said. “It’s just the little things we need to fix going into next year. We’re just going to keep building on as a team.”
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