PREP FOOTBALL: Dragons hold on for winADRIAN — Jordan Dingmann rushed for 101 yards, while Jake Tiede gained 95 yards on the ground and scored a pair of second-half touchdowns as the No.1-seed Adrian Dragons overcame a 6-0 halftime deficit to defeat the fifth-seeded Murray County Central Rebels, 12-6, in a Section 3A semifinal football game Saturday.
By: Lance Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
ADRIAN — Jordan Dingmann rushed for 101 yards, while Jake Tiede gained 95 yards on the ground and scored a pair of second-half touchdowns as the No.1-seed Adrian Dragons overcame a 6-0 halftime deficit to defeat the fifth-seeded Murray County Central Rebels, 12-6, in a Section 3A semifinal football game Saturday.
“We knew it was going to be a battle,” Tiede, a senior running back and defensive lineman, said. “It’s always a battle between these guys. They know our plays, we know their plays. We just had to come out and execute. Do the little things right, don’t commit penalties and just keep pushing.”
The contest definitely was a battle between two teams that know each other well. The Dragons toppled the Rebels in Slayton by a score of 28-8 in a Little Sioux Conference meeting between the teams on Sept. 21.
“Give MCC a lot of credit. They are a fine football team,” Dragon head coach Randy Strand said. “Obviously, if you play in our conference, you’re a quality football team. They made a good playoff run, being a No. 5 seed and knocking off a No. 4 seed on the road. We’re real proud of what our conference does and it makes you playoff ready.”
MCC, which ends its year with a record of 4-6, landed the first blow in a contest featuring two rush-heavy offenses, as senior running back Jack Thony used a burst of speed and block on the right edge from Wes Biren to score on a 54-yard dash up the right side with 1:59 left in the first half. A failed 2-point conversion attempt gave the Rebels a 6-0 lead that they took into the break.
Thony’s run capped off a seven-play, 80-yard drive on the third Rebel possession of the game and the score broke a stalemate that saw both teams take opening-quarter drives into opponent territory, only to come away with nothing to show for it.
However, it was Adrian that sustained drives for a longer stretch in the first half and used that time of possession edge to its advantage, as a fresh Dragon defense put the hosts’ offense back on the field quickly with good second-half field position, while the Dragon offense capitalized on Rebel mistakes.
“Our seniors gave it everything they had,” MCC head coach Chris Davis said. “We knew it was going to be a slugfest down here. We made some mistakes, had some penalties when we didn’t need them and our drives stalled out in the second half. Give all the credit to Adrian, they hung in there, kept going and they kept pounding.”
Following a MCC three-and-out and a short Adrian possession to open the final half, the Dragons forced the Rebels into another three-and-out on the visitor’s second series of the second half.
A short Rebel punt allowed Adrian to start its second series of the third quarter with field position in MCC territory and Tiede immediately shortened the gap to the end zone with a nine-yard run to start the drive.
Five plays later, Adrian converted on a fourth-and-five when Nate Loosbrock ran around the left edge on a 12-yard reverse play, saving the drive and moving the Dragons inside the 20.
An encroachment penalty on the Rebels two plays later allowed the Dragons to face a third-and-four instead of the longer-yardage situation and Tiede pushed the pile on the third-down run to give Adrian a first-and-goal from the Rebel 3-yard line.
On the very next play, Tiede hit pay dirt to tie the contest with a three-yard plunge up the middle with 1:21 left in the third quarter.
“Those are huge for us,” Tiede said of the key Rebel penalties. “It helps us move the ball upfield. That’s what we practice. Those are the little things that we like to practice for and to just play smart, hard football. That’s what we like to do.”
The Rebels countered on the next drive by taking the ball deep into Dragon territory, but a heavy pass rush on fourth down by Adrian’s Jesse Slater and Adam Garms forced MCC quarterback Seth Bass (4-for-6 passing for 30 yards) to fire incomplete to turn the ball over on downs early in the fourth quarter.
On its own 22-yard line, Adrian took possession with 8:28 left in the game and proceeded to march 88 yards on 11 plays, finding the end zone with 3:20 left to go ahead 12-6 when Tiede again ran the ball in from three yards out.
Dingmann chewed up 35 of the yards with a long run into Rebel territory on the game-winning drive, while Tiede picked up a key first down one play before his second TD run with a five-yard run on a third-and-three from the 8-yard line.
Another key play on the Adrian game-winning drive was another encroachment penalty by the MCC defense on a Logan Rogers’ hard-snap count that gave the hosts another short-yardage situation.
“We really worked in practice, all week, about the hard count,” Davis said. “We just got too excited and we had two or three of them that either gave them a first down or a third-and-short. You can’t make those mistakes against a great team like Adrian and expect to get away with it.”
The Dragon coaching staff helped make the adjustment that allowed Rogers, who finished with 30 passing yards, to use the hard count to Adrian’s advantage.
“We thought they were were getting off the ball pretty quick and we used that to our advantage a little bit in the second half with a little longer snap counts,” Strand said. “We hurt ourselves a few times with some penalties in the first half. MCC’s a good enough team, where you don’t need to help them to beat us. We squared those things away and we got a little more active on the front line. The seniors came out in the second half, didn’t want their season to end and they played like it in the second half. They came out and made some big plays. We blocked well on the line and Tiede gave us some yards and Jordan Dingmann started busting through there.”
However, the Dragon defense still needed to stop the Rebels at the end and the club finished it off, allowing MCC to gain a first down on a fourth-and-three, but then forcing another fourth-down play three plays later to end it.
“It took them over a minute to get that first first down at the end,” Strand said. “We made them use all four downs to get the first down. We knew we could let them get a few first downs, but we needed to prevent a long one and we did that. The kids played super down that stretch.”
Tiede, Matt Slater and Tony Sieve each recorded 10 tackles to lead the Dragons’ defense and Tiede was pleased with how his team was able to slow down the Rebels’ rushing attack, despite allowing the long first-half TD run.
“We like to come out and stop the run,” Tiede said. “Those are two, three good running backs that they have there. For them to not score in a game is rare, so holding them to one is good. We hate to give up those plays, but we are proud of our effort.”
Thony led the Rebels with 122 rushing yards and a TD on 16 carries, while Mitch Reinsma rushed for 42 yards on 17 carries and Ben Loosbrock added 30 yards on eight touches.
Michael Beek and Devin Miranowski led the MCC defense with 13 and 10 tackles, respectively.
Adrian improves to 8-2 with the victory and advances to play St. Clair (8-2) for the Section 3A championship Friday in Marshall.
“Any team that is still playing is obviously a good football team this time of the year,” Strand said of the upcoming opponent. “We have all week to prepare for the game and to get ready for them.”
The Dragons and Cyclones are scheduled to kick off at 2:30 p.m Friday afternoon with a berth in the state tournament on the line.
MCC 0 6 0 0 — 6
AHS 0 0 6 6 — 12