Prep football: Trojans get first score, first win
REDWOOD FALLS — Two very important firsts were achieved by the Worthington Trojans football team Friday night.
No. 2: They won.
The Trojans went scoreless through their first 10 quarters of 2013 until 9:09 remained in the third quarter of their clash with Southwest Conference rival Redwood Valley on homecoming Friday. It was then that 170-pound junior running back Troy Ektnitphong burst through the Cardinal defense on a 32-yard scoring run, erasing a 6-0 RV advantage. A Will Mulder extra point gave the Trojans their first lead of the season at 7-6. They held on to win 14-6.
“Things straightened out at halftime,” said WHS head coach Brad Grimmius, who said he was proud of the character his Trojans displayed. “We came out with a huge drive to start out the second half. And we were able to score another touchdown after that.”
In a game that featured lots of penalties and four interceptions by the WHS defense, the Trojans played a first half still mired in the offensive funk that had plagued them during their first two games. Unofficially, they amassed only 71 yards of offense in the first two quarters.
Worthington was hit with seven first half penalties for 70 yards and Redwood Valley had 40 yards of penalties over the same span.
But the Trojans’ defense answered the call in pressure situations, holding Redwood Valley to two field goals.
Redwood’s Aidan Dirlam kicked the first of his team’s field goals late in the first quarter from 37 yards away. He kicked his second as the half ended, from 20 yards out.
Worthington made an outstanding defensive stand prior to the second kick. After the Cardinals connected on a 42-yard pass play and set up at Worthington’s 2-yard line, the Trojans stopped them cold on first and second down to set up the boot.
“Our defense, they dug their cleats in the ground and kept them out of the end zone, which was huge,” Grimmius said.
Early in the second half, Worthington’s offense showed some life, and in pressure situations. During the team’s first touchdown drive, quarterback Will Dudley completed a 12-yard pass to Blake Schroeder on a third and 11 play to keep the drive going. A couple of good running plays moved the ball closer, to Redwood’s 32. On the next play, Ektnitphong demolished Worthington’s scoring drought.
Later in the third quarter, Worthington sophomore linebacker Torey Rogers interrupted a Redwood Valley drive with an interception, and after his 17-yard return WHS set up again on the Cardinals’ 48. A chop block penalty stalled the new offensive opportunity, but the WHS defense wasn’t done yet.
Early in the fourth quarter the Cards (1-2) began a possession deep in their own territory thanks to a fine Mulder punt that rolled to a stop around the 7-yard line. On a third-and-six play at the 11, Ektnitphong intercepted a pass and, with 5:40 left, WHS was in business again at the Redwood 29. Again, the drive ended without a score. But the next one ended with success.
Again it was set up by an interception, this time by 150-pound senior Jessie Guerra near midfield. With the Trojans working on the clock, on a fourth down play at the Redwood Valley 27, sophomore running back Robert Lovan just kept running until he found the end zone. Another PAT made the score 14-6 with 2:04 left.
Unfazed, the Cardinals mounted a furious pass-happy drive with time running out. A roughing the passer penalty on a fourth-and-long play at the WHS 34 kept hope alive for the home team. With 12 seconds remaining, Redwood had made it to the Trojans’ 19-yard line. But hope stalled on the 12-yard line as the clock finally ran out.
With the victory, the Trojans move to 1-2 and complete a season-opening stretch of three straight road games against teams called the Cardinals (first Fairmont, then Luverne, and on Friday Redwood Valley). Worthington will finally have its home opener Friday against Windom Area.
Wor 0 0 7 7 — 14
RV 3 3 0 0 — 6