STURGIS – The Huron Tigers had to wait extra time Friday night to secure the first win of the season and certainly didn’t make it easy against the Sturgis Scoopers, but the Tigers came away with a 34-32 win in Sturgis.
Lightning and rain delayed the opening kickoff ninety minutes before the Tigers received the opening kick. Gavin Moeding gave Huron good field position at the 36 yard line.
The Tigers handed the ball three times to Quinston Luellman before attempting to go for it on fourth and short. Cashton Caudell lost two yards on the try, turning the ball over on down to Sturgis.
Sturgis did not gain any ground on a pair of runs before senior quarterback Owen Cass placed a sideline route perfectly in the receiver’s hands only to have the receiver drop the pass. The Scoopers punted, pinning the Tigers on the 9-yard-line.
Luellman took the handoff on the first play and found a seam, going untouched for 91 yards for a touchdown. Nick Kleinsasser added the point-after kick to give Huron a 7-0 lead.
A penalty on the kickoff gave the Scoopers good field position to open their second drive. On the first play, Cass completed to Tyan Buus for a 20-yard gain. Cass found Buus quickly again before tucking the ball and running for the first down.
Cass lost six yards on a quarterback keeper before again finding Buus on a 23-yard pass play, getting Sturgis in the red zone. Gunner Rohloff made one cut at the line and took the ball in from 13 yards out. The Tigers defense held on the 2-point conversion, preserving a 7-6 Huron lead.
On the first play of the ensuing drive, the handoff wasn’t made cleanly by the Tigers and the ball ended up on the wet field, recovered by 6’8” Sturgis defensive lineman Jake Vliem.
On the second play after the turnover, Cass found Reese Jacobs on a middle screen and Jacobs raced toward the sideline, getting to the Tiger 5-yard-line before he was taken down. Cass scrambled and dodged Tiger defenders long enough for Buus to get open in the end zone, where Cass found him for a 3-yard touchdown. The point-after kick was missed, leaving the score 12-7 Sturgis.
Caudell took the ball on the first play and broke multiple tackles, gaining 20 yards. After no gain on a run, Mason Davis found Caudell on a check down route that gained 14 yards.
Davis then dropped back and saw plenty of open space. He took off and ran in for a touchdown from 32 yards out behind excellent downfield blocking. Kleinsasser added the extra point for a 14-12 Huron lead.
Sturgis continued to attempt to attack the Tigers through the air behind three-year starter Cass. Two drops by receivers on passes that could have gained a first down led to a punt by Sturgis.
The Tigers used straight-ahead running to grind out a first down. On third and long, Davis found Dylan Lichty on a middle screen all the way down to the Sturgis 30.
Luellman got seven yards off tackle and after an incompletion, Davis went around end on the quarterback keeper down to the 9-yard-line. Kolby Hofer pushed the pile all the way to the one before Davis grabbed an errant snap and dove forward for another Tiger touchdown. Kleinsasser’s kick made it 21-12 Huron.
Huron’s defense knocked down multiple passes downfield that would have forced a punt, but a personal foul gave the Scoopers a first down. Sturgis penalties then pinned the Scoopers back to a 3rd down with 38 yards to go. The Tigers defense was able to force the punt.
Luellman chewed up 13 yards on the first carry of the ensuing drive as the Tigers aimed to eat up clock and stick to the rushing attack. After a pair of Caudell runs, Davis missed a wide-open Lichty down the right sideline to set up a punt.
The Scoopers got a first down on a middle screen from Cass to Jacobs. Cass then found Gavin Ligtenberg for a sideline route to get another first down. Cass scrambled to get Sturgis into Huron territory. The Tigers forced a turnover on downs, stopping the final Sturgis drive of the first half.
Luellman used a pair of runs to pick up 14 yards and a first down. Davis took a deep shot to CJ Gainey before handing to Luellman and letting the clock run out on the half.
Sturgis opened the second half with a 27-yard run from Rohloff, dragging multiple Huron tacklers. Though Huron stiffened up after that, Cass found Buus deep down the seam for a 30-yard gain to bring the Scoopers into Tiger territory.
A first down on the ground by Rohloff got Sturgis in the red zone down to the 14. On third down, Cass found Buus in the corner of the end zone for a 9-yard score. Reese Jacobs caught a 2-point conversion pass to make the score 21-20.
Davis tucked the ball on a run/pass option to gain 14 yards for the first Tiger first down of the second half on the second play of the drive. Davis then hit Moeding with a 31-yard pass play.
Davis was then sacked and lost eight yards. That forced a pair of long passes, and the Tigers could not connect, turning the ball over on downs.
Cass was sacked by Elliott DeVries on a third-and-long, forcing a Scooper punt. Huron got the ball at the 50-yard-line.
Huron used runs by Caudell and Davis to set up third and inches. Davis gave a long count that got the Scooper defensive line to jump, getting a first down at the Sturgis 35 to open the fourth quarter.
Caudell took back-to-back runs to gain 11 yards and earn a Tiger first down. Caudell then broke a run and was caught by a shoestring tackle at the 1-yard-line. He then went in untouched from there to make it 27-20 Huron after the extra point kick missed wide right.
After a penalty on the return, Sturgis started on their own 19 after the Huron score. The Tigers forced a Scooper punt.
On third-and-long, Davis dropped back to pass and fumbled the wet football. Sturgis fell on it, setting up a first down at the Tiger 15.
Cass went deep to Buus and a controversial play gave Sturgis a touchdown. Buus and Moeding both came down with the ball at the same time, but officials ruled simultaneous possession, giving Buus and Sturgis the score. The two-point conversion pass failed, leaving the Tigers ahead by one point 27-26.
The Tigers punted after a three-and-out. Huron committed a roughing the passer penalty and then Cass found Jacobs over the middle to bring the Scoopers into Tiger territory with two and a half minutes left in the game.
Cass took off running and scrambled for a first down. After a designed quarterback run, Cass scrambled and threw across his body. The ball was tipped into the air and Lichty came down with it for Huron.
Luellman needed to simply gain a first down to ice the game for Huron, but he ended up going around end for an 88-yard touchdown run. Kleinsasser added the extra point for a 34-26 Huron lead.
Sturgis got a good return from Buus to put the ball right at midfield with just a hair over a minute left on the clock. Cass completed a pass to Jacobs to get a first down and get into Tiger territory.
A second completion to Jacobs gained 17 and moved the ball to the Huron 28. Cass completed a short pass to Rohloff over the middle then connected with Buus with 1.8 seconds left on the clock, the fourth touchdown connection between the two in the game.
Sturgis needed to convert the 2-point conversion to tie, but the Tigers were able to knock down the pass, keeping the score 34-32 in favor of Huron.
The Tigers covered the onside kick and Davis kneeled on the ball to seal the victory for Huron.
Luellman led the rushing attack for the Tigers, carrying the ball 15 times for 235 yards and a pair of scores. The Tigers totaled 396 yards with Caudell adding 97 yards and a score and Davis rushing for 52 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Davis also threw for 77 yards.
The rushing offense was credit to the hard work of the guys in the trenches, according to Coach Dru Strand.
“Kudos to the offensive line,” Strand exclaimed. “We did a good job of rotating the three backs, but it was the line. They just crushed it!”
Cass threw for 258 yards and four touchdowns, all four to Buus for the Scoopers, now 2-2. Rohloff led the rushing attack with 78 yards on the ground and a score.
Strand was happy with the effort for the full game and hopes it can continue going forward.
“It was nice to see (the team) play a full 48 minutes,” Strand said. “Outstanding job tonight. We can celebrate tonight and get back to work next week.”
The Tigers (1-3) will host Aberdeen Central Friday at Tiger Stadium.
Huron 14 7 0 13 — 34
Sturgis 12 0 8 12 — 32
H - 8:52 - Quinston Luellman 91-yard TD run. (Nick Kleinsasser PAT kick.)
S - 6:32 - Gunner Rohloff 13-yard TD run. (2-pt run failed.)
S - 5:18 - Owen Cass 3-yard TD pass to Tyan Buus. (PAT kick failed.)
H - 2:09 - Mason Davis 32-yard TD run. (Kleinsasser PAT kick.)
H - 7:56 - Davis 1-yard TD run. (Kleinsasser PAT kick.)
S - 6:45 - Cass 9-yard TD pass to Buus. (2-pt pass from Cass to Reese Jacobs.)
H - 9:10 - Cashton Caudell 1-yard TD run. (PAT kick no good.)
S - 6:02 - Cass 24-yard TD pass to Buus. (2-pt conversion pass failed.)
H - 1:16 - Luellman 88-yard TD run. (Kleinsasser PAT kick.)
S - 0:01 - Cass 24-yard TD pass to Buus. (2-pt conversion pass failed.)