Tigers record first win, beat Norman County West 28-22Published 9:03am Monday, September 16, 2013
The Rothsay Tigers traveled to Halstad to take on the Norman County West Panthers on Saturday, Sept. 13. The game represented the first road conference game for the Tigers, but it also represented the homecoming game for the Panthers. The Tigers secured the win by the score of 28-22 but had to hold off a late surge by the Panthers to do so.
We came into this game knowing that it would most likely be Norman County West’s Homecoming game for 2013. It was not only convenient for the Panthers to host us for homecoming as far as their schedule goes, but when we have been unable to secure one of the top spots in the conference, it is inevitable that many teams will choose to host us for one of the most important home games of the season. While finding our way to the locker room and noticing a giant poster made by an elementary class that said ‘Tame the Tigers’, I knew we had drawn the first one of the 2013 season. To me and the rest of the coaching staff, it added the extra motivation to play our best.
We were hoping to win the coin-toss to begin the game on offense, but even though we were forced to kick off at the beginning of the game, we were able to recover the opening kick thanks to a squib that didn’t end up traveling the normal designed distance. It really ended up looking like a perfect onside kick. Even though we weren’t able to score on our first possession, I think the Panthers interpreted the ‘accidental’ onside as proof that we showed up to play and win at all costs.
The Tigers drove the ball all the way down to the six yard line on their second possession of the game, but were unable to come up with points until their offense got hot in the second and third quarters. Senior quarterback Noah Brenden lead the Tigers on offense with 25 carries for 190 yards and three rushing touchdowns. Noah also added to his impressive offensive night with seven passing completions for 128 yards, one being a 60 yard touchdown strike to Casey Backstrom. Backstrom also added 23 rushing yards and 80 yards on special teams, the longest being a 63 yard kick return that was inches away from being another Tiger touchdown. Sophomore running back Evan Burkdoll also added a big spark for us in the redzone carrying the ball for a much needed first down which lead to the score that put the game too far out of reach for a late Panther rally.
Noah Brenden was also a leader on defense with 8 tackles and a fumble recovery. I really think our defense came together and put together a great game. We had stand out performances from everyone on the field on defense, regardless of the fact that most of our defense is forced to play all of the offensive and special teams downs. Burkdoll added eight tackles while senior linebacker and running back Brett Brenden added nine solo tackles, four assisted tackles, and two batted balls among many other closely defended incomplete passes. Brett has been a major contributor for us, mostly on the offensive side of the ball as a sophomore and a junior. Now that teams are keying on him specifically on offense, it is exciting that he is taking on such an important defensive resposibility. Brett came up to me after the game and explained that he enjoyed being the focus of attention on offense because it opens up opportunities for his teammates to have big nights. That kind of selflessness is the leadership that we need to keep moving toward a solid football program. Other major defensive contributors were junior linebacker Logan Moen with 12 tackles and junior defensive end Ryan Larson with six tackles and one fumble recovery. One of our most exciting contributions on defense definitely came from freshman defensive lineman Miles Mudderman. Miles took on upper class offensive lineman the entire game, and freed up lanes for our linebackers to make drive stopping tackles. Mudderman’s most exciting play came at the very end of the game.
The Panthers were forced to abandon the run and attempted to throw the ball to try for the tying score. Mudderman was asked to play a spot in pass coverage after an unfortunate Tiger injury. Mudderman, who had suffered a mild thumb injury early in the game, intercepted the final Panther pass to secure the win for the Tigers. It really is special to see such a young player make a memory like that in such a high pressure situation.
The Tigers will host the Win-E-Mac Patriots at home on September 20th at 7 p.m. The Patriots come into the game undefeated, and are one of the top teams in the North Tri-County Conference.