Mustance race past Knights in fourth quarter
ARMSTRONG – Fighting for the second seed in the playoffs, the Graettinger/Terril Knights and Armstrong-Ringsted Mustangs put on quite a show Friday night on a muddy football field in Armstrong.
G/T looked like it had control of the game entering the final quarter of play but a strong showing by A/R’s senior running back Tyler Tonderum gave the Mustangs a 39-21 victory.
It was a defensive battle at the onset as each team struggled to move the football. With 6:12 remaining in the first quarter, the Knights’ Cody Dyhrkopp muffed a punt that was recovered by the Mustangs at their 32 yard line.
After a nice drive by the Mustangs that featured mostly Tonderum, Spencer Clausen mishandled the snap, giving G/T the ball back at the Knights’ 5-yard line.
Unfortunately for the Knights, Dyhrkopp made his second mistake of the evening as he fumbled a snap and the Mustangs fell on it at the 14 yard line.
Two plays later Tonderum took it in from 6 yards out, giving A-R a 6-0 lead with 2:47 left to play in the first period.
On the ensuing possession for G/T, Dyhrkopp took the snap on fourth and two and picked up just enough to get the Knights a first down. On the very next play, Nate Howard burst up the middle and outraced the A-R secondary 41 yards to the endzone. A successful point after attempt gave the Knights a 7-6 lead with 2:16 left in the first quarter.
Following the kickoff, A-R took over on its 16-yard line. On first down Clausen rolled left and lofted a pass down the sideline that was picked off by Eric Hatland and returned to the 7-yard line. Shortly after the interception, Drew Skattebo took it in from 2 yards out, extending the Knights lead to 14-6.
A squib kick by Graettinger/Terril was returned by sophomore Dakota Odermann across midfield to the Knights’ 30-yard line.
The Mustangs drove it right down the heart of G/T’s stout defense and Tonderum took it in from one yard out for his second touchdown of the night, cutting G/T’s lead to 14-12.
Following a punt by the Knights on their next possession, Clausen was picked off once again, this time by Heath Marchand and the Knights took over a their own 35 yard line.
On fourth and 12, Dyhrkopp connected with Beau Craig on a 18-yard pitch and catch for a first down but shortly after G/T coughed up yet another fumble and A-R took over at the Mustang 30-yard line with 2:25 left in the first half.
Down 14-12 and looking to regain momentum heading into halftime, the Mustangs began feeding their workhorse.
Out of the Wildcat formation, Tonderum carried the ball on eight consecutive plays, carrying the rock across the goal line from 1 yard out with 23.1 seconds remaining in the half.
Following a two-point conversion by Tonderum and a kneel down by the Knights, the half would come to a close with Armstrong-Ringsted leading Graettinger/Terril, 20-14.
The Knights regained the lead with 5:22 remaining in the third quarter as Howard crossed the goal line from nine yards out. The PAT made the score 21-20 in favor of G/T and that’s how the teams would enter the fourth quarter.
At the start of the final quarter, the Knights’ freshman punter Blaze Alesch dropped the long snap and was tackled for a loss by the Mustangs.
A-R took over deep in Knight territory and with 10:20 left to play Tonderum found his way to pay dirt giving the Mustangs a 26-21 lead that they would not relinquish.
Tonderum scored two more times before the clock sounded to give the Mustangs the 39-21 victory and the second seed in the playoffs.
“Our defense did a stand-up job tonight,” said A-R coach Robert Zotz. “They really bailed out our offense. The field conditions really hurt us in the passing game but we made the adjustments necessary to win the ball game.”
Coming into the game Tonderum had carried the ball 99 total times on the season. On Friday night he carried the ball 41 times for 264 yards and five touchdowns. The Mustangs only totaled 263 yards in the game.
The Knights were led by Howard with 18 carries for 95 yards and two touchdowns. He was followed by Skattebo with 14 carries for 35 yards and a touchdown.
Dyhrkopp carried the ball 13 times for 30 yards and connected on 2-of-6 passes for 34 yards.
Craig caught both of Dyhrkopp’s passes for 34 yards.
Both teams will play next wednesday against their District 1 pairing.
A-R (8-1, 6-1) will host the first round game, while G/T (7-2, 5-2) will be on the road.