Lone field goal sinks Eagles in home opener
Brock Cichon lined up to boot a 32-yard field goal at the halftime buzzer only to watch it clang off the middle of the crossbar sending the game to the break tied at zero. With 20 seconds remaining in the game, Cichon again lined up for a field goal -- this time from 27 yards -- and his attempt was good ending a defensive battle of turnovers. His kick was the only score in a 3-0 victory for the Upsala/Swanville Area Patriots (USA) over New York Mills.
"It was a tough hard fought game," NY Mills Head Coach Matt Radniecki said. "Both teams had trouble moving the ball and making the explosive play."
The two teams combined for six turnovers in the second half. The Patriots fumbled the ball away into the end zone with four minutes remaining in the game after taking advantage of a 22-yard punt from Charlie Peeters, which set USA up at midfield.
"Anytime you lose a game 3-0 it is tough but we have to look on the bright side that we competed hard and had a chance to the very end. I tell the team that many times football contests come down to two or three plays and tonight it came down to one play that USA made."
Quarterback Eric Frieler hit Garrett Wolf for 49 yards taking USA to the NY Mills' three-yard line. The Patriots had trouble with the snap, both under center and in the shotgun all game and it cost them.
From the three, the fumbled ball came to rest with the nose of the ball just over the goal line when the Eagles pounced on it with four minutes remaining in regulation forcing a NY Mills touchback instead of a USA touchdown.
Three plays later, Frieler picked off a Peeters pass deep down the middle to give USA a chance at a game-winning drive. The Eagles defense stiffened in the red zone forcing the Patriots' coaching staff to ponder a fourth-and-two at the four or line up for the field goal with 20 seconds remaining on the clock.
Each half had mirrored endings. The Eagles forced a field goal in the waning seconds of the first half by shutting down the Patriots at the five-yard line, with the aid of two USA false start penalties. The halftime horn accompanied the clang of Cichon's kick as the ball met the front of the crossbar.
Early in the third quarter, a Peeters to Tyler Patron 15-yard pass on third and 11 brought the Eagles to the deepest part of Patriots' territory at the 29-yard line. But a bad shotgun snap eluded Peeters for a loss of 10 yards. A fumble in the backfield on the next play was recovered by USA ending the threat.
The Patriots had 100 more total yards, 273-173, gaining 164 on the ground. The Eagles were even in the air for 87 yards and rushing for 86.
Nick LeTourneau made three catches for 34 yards. Tyler Patron and Shane Novak led on both sides of the ball for NY Mills. Novak rushed 11 times for 31 yards and had one reception for 25 yards. Patron rushed 14 times for 42 yards and had two receptions for 31 yards. The duo also combined for 14.5 tackles on defense.
Both defenses were forced to stiffen often and the humid weather with little to no breeze taxed both teams.
"We had some good things happen individually and team-wise but one area that we have to get better in is being more resilient. When tired you have to focus and be able to play through the tired feeling and step up and make a play."
The Eagles were able to move the ball but the Patriots' defense made it difficult to consistently accrue first downs to sustain long drives. Combined with an inability to move the ball vertically up the field kept the Eagles' offense in short play mode.
"We had trouble making the big play and we will need to work on getting outside and being able to attack that area this week."
The Eagles remain at home for week two. They will face the Osakis Silverstreaks. Osakis (1-0) won their home opener 19-6 over the Kerkoven-Murdock-Sundburg Fighting Saints. The Saints and Eagles will meet Sept. 23 in Murdock.
1st Downs - NYM - 10; USA - 12
Rushing -- NYM - 30-86; USA - 32-164
Passing -- NYM -16-87 yards; USA - 6-18-99 yards
Turnovers -- NYM - 3; USA - 3
Penalties -- 2-10; 6-40
Total yards 173 - 273
4th quarter - Brock Cichon 27-yard field goal with 20 seconds left