Back to the Dome!
ARMSTRONG – It wasn’t supposed to be this easy.
Armstrong-Ringsted lost by 20 points to rival North Sentral Kossuth earlier this season.
In Friday’s quarterfinal, the Mustangs dominated the Eagles in snowy, wet , windy conditions in Armstrong on the way to a 49-14 victory.
The No. 4 Mustangs will take on top-rated Stanton in the 8-Man semifinal next Friday at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls-a rematch of last year’s championship game.
“The energy that we had was second to none,” said A-R coach Robert Zotz. “We played like we had something to prove. The weather was not inviting, but it benefited our running game.”
The Mustangs had 310 yards on the ground led by Tyler Tonderum with 183 on 19 carries and touchdown runs of 63, 6, 26, 6 and 36. Ridge Christiansen contributed 122 yards on 14 carries with one 53-yard touchdown run and a 34-yard pass to Craig Tigges.
The first minute and half made the game look like it might be another shootout.
On the first play from scrimmage, Tonderum went 63 yards and the Mustangs led 7-0 after the Ethan Eisenbacher kick with just 18 seconds gone in the game.
North Sentral Kossuth didn’t answer quite as quickly, but it took just a little over a minute as they started at their 37. Three runs by Blake Pedersen had the Eagles on the 10-yard line, where Chris Rock ran it in on first down. Pedersen added the two-point conversion and NSK led 8-7.
The lead lasted for a little while as A-R was forced to punt into the wind, giving the Eagles good field position, but Pedersen fumbled on third-and-9 from the 26-yard line.
A-R was again forced to kick after three plays and NSK started deep in Mustang territory at the 24, but two incomplete passes on third and fourth downs gave the Mustangs the ball once again.
This time, Christiansen broke free on a 54-yard run and Eisbacher’s kick gave them a 14-8 lead.
A sack by Craig Tigges on third down had the Eagles kicking their first punt deep in their own territory. A few plays later, Tonderum ran the ball in from 5 yards out. The two-point conversion attempt failed.
A-R then had the biggest break of the night on the ensuing kickoff by Eisenbacher. Kicking high into the wind, the ball came up short and A-R pounced on the ball at the NSK 26.
On the next play from scrimmage, Tonderum took the ball in from there and the Eisenbacher kick made it 27-8.
NSK started with good field position at the 36 on the next drive, but a tackle for a loss on first down followed by a holding penalty on second down led to another Eagle punt.
With the wind favoring the Mustangs, A-R was at its own 39 after the two teams traded punts.
On second-and-two Christiansen completed his only pass of the night-a 34-yard touchdown reception to Craig Tigges. An A-R holding penalty prevented a successful two-point conversion play for the second time and this time Eisenbacher’s kick failed, but A-R led 33-8 with 5:36 left in the half.
NSK again had bad field position on its next drive. On fourth down, the punt into the wind went for negative yardage with A-R recovering at the 5-yard line.
That was too easy as Tonderum ran the ball in untouched on the next play. Christiansen added the two-point conversion for a 41-8 lead with 3:48 remaining in the first half.
NSK finally regrouped on its next drive. The Eagles started at their 15 and moving across midfield. They converted a fourth-and-one and then Pedersen ran the ball in from 8-yards out. The two-point conversion attempt failed as A-R led 41-14 at half-far removed from the 14-14 game on Sept. 26.
The Mustangs proved their mettle in the second half, stopping the Eagles on their first drive.
When A-R took over on downs at their own 18, they promptly put together a drive that ended with a 36-yard by Tonderum. The two-point conversion pass from Christiansen to Tanner LaBore put the Mustangs up by 35 which kept the clock running continuously the rest of the game.
Defensively, Tigges had 12 tackles, Christiansen nine and Tonderum seven. Also, Spencer Clausen had an interception in the fourth quarter.