MW FOOTBALL: Ironmen sneak past Bluejays
ST. CLOUD -- Minnesota West battled both offensively and defensively the entire game Saturday. But in the end, it was two special teams plays that sent Vermillion to a 21-7 victory against the Bluejays in the Minnesota College Athletic Conference...
ST. CLOUD -- Minnesota West battled both offensively and defensively the entire game Saturday.
But in the end, it was two special teams plays that sent Vermillion to a 21-7 victory against the Bluejays in the Minnesota College Athletic Conference football Kickoff Classic.
"It's disappointing for the most part because we beat ourselves," MW sophomore Logan Korkow said. "We are a lot better team than what we played (Saturday). We had the two special teams plays, we don't pick up the punt and they scoop and score. We have a lot of freshman and a lot of new people out there. Our offense needs to get better as a whole. Our defense played really well (Saturday), we just beat ourselves."
Offensively, freshman quarterback Chris Bible was making his first career start.
Sophomore James Dallager, who was named the starter, broke his thumb late in the week, leaving the starting job to Bible.
"(Dallager) was a returner from last year and he kind of paid his dues and I was expecting to pay my dues and I'd get my time when my time came," Bible said. "My time came kind of early. I feel kind of bad for the kid, but I got to step up now and do my part."
Dallager hurt his throwing-hand thumb Thursday in practice.
"I found out (I was starting on Friday) at 2:30 when I walked in to go get dressed for football and Dallager was in the ice bucket," Bible said. "I knew that he hurt this thumb, but I didn't think it was too bad and he'd be all right. He's a tough kid and coach was like, 'You better be ready to go (Saturday).' I was like, 'Oh, crap.' I stayed up a little (Friday) night looking over my playbook."
Bible completed 13 of 31 passes for 77 yards. He did throw three interceptions in the game.
"At first, I was obviously real nervous and I didn't know what to expect," Bible said. "As it went on, I got a little confidence, and after the first interception, I was a little down on that. But the guys lifted me up a little bit; I just wanted to do the best I could for the team."
The MW offense struggled in the first quarter. It had 27 yards and one first down and went three-and-out twice.
Taking over with 4:05 left in the first quarter, the Ironmen offense started driving.
Capped by a six-yard pass from Logan McAllister to Levi Lawrence, Vermillion finished a 12-play 84-yard drive with seven points.
However, that would be the last offensive points the MW defense would allow all game.
"The defense played great," MW head coach Jeff Linder said. "They were on the field all the time. We just had a couple miscues offensively and special teams hurt us. That's all part of the game."
With both defenses buckling down and both offenses struggling, special teams made the next big play.
The Bluejays, deep in their own territory and facing a fourth and five, were forced to punt.
Kicking against the wind, the punt was short, and after a bounce, was stopped at the MW 25-yard line.
Enter George Weckman.
The freshman linebacker slid through the MW defenders standing around the ball, picked up the stopped punt and raced untouched 25 yards for a touchdown, giving Vermillion a 14-0 lead at halftime.
"You're getting a zero punt going backwards, and you've got freshman not understanding that you can't just touch the ball, you have to pick it up," Linder said. "We're young, there's just a lot of learning that has to take place yet."
In the second half, the Bluejays began to run no-huddle. In their first possession, Bible completed a 10-yard pass to Korkow, but MW was forced to punt.
"I wanted to go a little bit earlier with (no-huddle)," Linder said. "They don't have to think, it's go, go, go. You wear out the defense, get lined up and get ready to go. You have one play to think about, it's set, hut, so there's no count, no colors or anything. They don't have to think and they can just react. That happens a lot with young players. We've done it in the past, and it straightens them out."
With 6:26 remaining in the third quarter, MW took over at the Vermillion 48.
Three straight completions to Korkow later and MW was knocking on the door of the end zone.
Mixing completions with scrambles, Bible led the offense down inside the 5-yard line.
"I just feel a lot better running the no-huddle because we did that a little bit in high school, so it's something that I'm comfortable with," Bible said. "It calmed me down a lot and built up my confidence a little bit."
Facing a fourth and goal from inside the 1, Bible called his own number.
At 6-2, 245 pounds, the freshman quarterback powered his way into the endzone, cutting the deficit to 14-7 as the third quarter ended.
Driving again midway through the fourth quarter, the MW offense started on its own 4-yard line. However, once it reached midfield, the drive stalled.
The MW defense came up with a big stop, and it looked as if the offense would get one more shot at tying the game with more than three minutes remaining.
However, special teams again hurt the Bluejays.
The MW returner wasn't able to cleanly field the punt, and Vermillion's Melvin Roberson fell on the ball in the end zone, giving the Ironmen a 21-7 lead.
The Bluejay offense couldn't get anything going in the final minutes and fell to 0-1 to start the season.
"We'll get better," Linder said. "Everything out here (Saturday) miscue-wise can be fixed. I'd be worried if it was all lack of effort things. That wasn't the situation at all. They were all in the game, working hard and everything (Saturday) was fixable. The important thing is to make sure they understand that and they come out ready to play next week."
Korkow had 10 receptions for 58 yards to lead the MW offense. Joe Harris rushed for 39 yards on nine carries. Bible had 27 yards rushing as MW had 189 yards of total offense.
McAllister was 9-of-18 passing for 116 yards, but Vermillion had a mere 168 yards of total offense.
Corey Polz led the defense with 15 tackles (two and a half for loss), a sack and two forced fumbles. Deshavin Johnson had eight tackles, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble, while Tyler Welp (seven tackles, four and a half for loss) and Jimmy Davis (five tackles, three for loss) each had one and a half sacks.
MW will host Itasca Saturday. Kickoff is slated for noon.
MW 0 0 7 0 -- 7
Vermillion 0 14 0 7 -- 21