Tigers football breaks into win column

Plainsman Staff
Posted 9/9/23

Huron dominates Brookings for first victory of 2023

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Tigers football breaks into win column

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BROOKINGS — The Huron Tiger defense completely shut down the Brookings Bobcats Friday night, as the Tigers notched their first win of the season, overwhelming the Bobcats for a 41-6 win in ESD Conference football action and Dana Dykhouse Stadium on the South Dakota State University campus.

Huron improves to 1-2, while the Bobcats slip to 0-3.

A quiet first quarter erupted in fireworks in the second period, and a once-in-lifetime game changing play set the Tigers up for the win.

The first Tiger possession had a promising start, as a quick completion from Colton McNeil to Gavin Moeding resulted in a first down. A second completion between the duo, however, found the ball jarred loose and the Bobcats pounced on the ball.

As it did throughout the game, Huron’s defense proved inpenetrable. Brookings gained a first down, but a penalty forced a Bobcats punt, that found Huron taking over on its two-yard line. After one first down, the Tigers were forced to punt, giving the ball back near midfield.

Brookings turned the ball over on downs, as Huron won the battle of field position, taking over at its own 40-yard line. A quick McNeil pass to Bubba Peterson took the Tigers into Brookings territory for the first time and after a pair of fourth-down conversions, McNeil to Moeding and then to Cash Caudell put Huron in business at the Bobcat one-yard line and Caudell punched it in with just over a minute remaining in the quarter.

Brookings was again unable to move the ball and Huron forced a fumble seconds into the second quarter, taking over on the Bobcats’ 43-yard line. Peyton Bischoff carried for nine yards and McNeil converted the first down on the next play. A short run lost a yard, to the Bobcat’s 33-yard line, but McNeil rolled right and found a very lonely Bischoff, who caught the ball and spun into the endzone. After a Caudell reception on the conversion, Huron led 14-0 with 9:51 to play in the half.

Brookings struck back immediately, as Will Conrad got to the right sideline and returned the ensuing kickoff 93-yards to paydirt, although the conversion failed. It was the second kickoff return for touchdown that the Tigers have surrendered this season.

Huron turned the ball over on an interception on its next possession, but forced a four-play turn over on downs on the Brookings possession.

The Huron offense that had sputtered at times began to purr on the next possession, as the Tigers took over on their own 29. Caudell ripped off a pair of nine-yard runs, McNeil ran for a first down and then connected with Moeding for an 18-yard catch for another first down. From there, McNeil looked to roll out and run the ball, but pulled up and lofted a pass over the Bobcats’ defense to Moeding for an 18-yard score. After a Nick Kleinsasser point after, Huron held a 21-6 lead.

Brookings went three-and-out on its next possession, but the punt bounced off a Huron player and the Bobcats took the ball back near midfield. For the first time in the half, Brookings began to complete passes, as quarterback Jones Huntimer connected with Conrad for 11 yards, and with Bergen Tetzlaff for another 10 and with Gavin Hammrich for 14 and suddenly the Bobcats had a first-and-goal at the Tiger six, with 31 seconds to play.

Huron forced an incomplete pass, then Kolby Hofer caught Conrad behind the line for a six-yard loss. Another incomplete pass set up a fourth-and-goal for the Bobcats, who looked to pull within one score before the half.
Huntimer rolled right and threw into the endzone, but Huron’s CJ Gainey stepped in front of Tetzlaff and went 102-yards down the sideline as time expired, for the touchdown. Kleinsasser kicked the PAT and Huron took a 28-6 lead to the halftime break on a huge momentum swing from which the Bobcats never recovered.

Brookings fumbled on its second play of the second half, and the Tigers took over in Bobcat territory. They quickly earned as first down, then a completed pass turned into a turnover, as the Bobcats got a hand on the ball and got the ball back, deep in their own territory.

Again, the Tiger defense stifled any offense from the Bobcats and Huron took over on the Brookings 42 after the change of possession. After two incompletions, Caudell managed to bounce off a Bobcat defender for 10 yards and move the chains. Two short running plays and an incompletion forced Huron into a fourth-down play from the Bobcat 30-yard line.

McNeil found Gainey in the middle of a mess of Brookings defenders and the tall receiver skied for the 22-yard completion and McNeil tossed a short pass to Moeding in the left flats on the next play and Moeding beat the Bobcat defender to the pylon for the eight-yard touchdown.

Brookings went three and out and punted, but the Tigers were flagged for roughing the kicker, giving the Bobcats new life. But the defense once again quickly got the ball back, as Brookings actually moved backward before surrendering the ball on downs.

As the clock ran toward the end of the third quarter, Huron began to lean on its offensive line and ran Caudell off tackle for 35 yards. A pair of short passes and a loss on a run again set up a fourth-down play.

After attempting several short passes to the flat in the second half, McNeil faked a pass to Moeding, as Gainey broke deep and found himself all alone. McNeil lofted the pass and Gainey jogged into the endzone with the 24-yard score, which made it 41-6, on the first play of the final period. The PAT failed, but the damage was done.

Neither team moved the ball throughout the remainder of the game, as both benches were cleared and underclassmen were able to log some varsity minutes.

Huron rolled up 385 total yards, 137 of them on the ground, as Caudell rumbled 93 yards on 15 carries. McNeil connected on 21 of 31 passes, for 248 yards and four touchdowns.

The Tiger defense held Brookings to only 93 yards, 40 on the ground and 53 in the air, as Huntimer was 5/22 for 53 in the air. Huron had 16 first downs and Brookings had seven and Huron enjoyed nearly a two-to-one time of possession advantage.

Huron returns to action Friday night, hosting the Sturgis Scoopers in the Tigers’ homecoming football game. Kickoff at Tiger Stadium is 7 p.m.

Score by quarters
Huron     6 22 7 6 — 41
Brookings     0   6 0 0 — 6

Scoring summary

1st quarter
HURON — 1:07 - Cashton Caudell, 1-yard run. PAT failed

2nd quarter
HURON — 9:51 - Peyton Bischoff, 33-yard pass from Colton McNeil. Cashton Caudell pass from McNeil conversion.
BROOK — 9:36 - Will Conrade, 93-yard kickoff return. PAT blocked.
HURON — 2:17 - Gavin Moeding, 19-yard pass from McNeil. Nick Kleinsasser PAT.
HURON — :00 - CJ Gainey, 102-yard interception return, Kleinsasser PAT

3rd quarter
HURON — 4:24 - Moeding, 8-yard pass from McNeil. Kleinsasser PAT.

4th quarter
HURON — 11:55 - Gainey, 24-yard pass from McNeil. PAT failed