New York Mills hangs of for 6A title
By John George email@example.com With the exception of three big-yardage plays given up to Browerville, New York Mills dominated the Section 6A football final at the FargoDome. One of those plays, a 46-yard pass to the Eagle 13-yard line late in the...
By John George
With the exception of three big-yardage plays given up to Browerville, New York Mills dominated the Section 6A football final at the FargoDome. One of those plays, a 46-yard pass to the Eagle 13-yard line late in the fourth quarter nearly cost New York Mills the game.
Browerville eventually set up at the one-yard line with 3:16 to play, first and goal, trailing 20-14.
"We'd made goal line stands before," said senior tackle Drew Schultz.
What happened next will be talked about in New York Mills for decades.
The Eagles stood their ground. Browerville tried to pound it in three times, and were denied three times before New York Mills called their final timeout.
The Tigers ran one more play, but as quarterback Ryan Hoelscher made a move to the outside, he was tripped up and the goal line stand was complete.
"You can never give up down there," Schultz said. "When you have your backs against the wall, you have to make the stop."
Mills wasn't quite out of hot-water yet. After failing to get a first down, the Eagles took a safety with 1:33, rather than risk punting from their own one-yard line.
The defense had to make one last stop. There was Schultz to make things happen.
He picked up his second sack on the game on second down, forcing a third and long with the clock ticking. After two incomplete passes, the fate of the Tigers had been sealed.
"We had a lot of confidence we could make another stop after the goal line stand," senior Jason Burg said of the final sequence.
The Eagles were on their way to State.
"It's unbelievable. The best feeling ever," Burg added.
The team had a lot to overcome at the beginning of the season. The loss of 13 seniors from the 2005 team, and a tough season-opening schedule. After four games, they were 2-2.
"We just had to believe in ourselves," Schultz said. "The coaches gave us great schemes and we had to execute. We knew we had the talent if we could put it together."
They did put it together, and went 5-0 down the stretch and earned the section's No. 1 seed.
"This team has really come together," head coach Matt Radniecki said. "They've improved throughout the year and I still feel that we have our best football ahead of us."
The Eagles didn't fare so well in their first meeting against Browerville. The Tigers, coming off their third straight section championship appearance, beat NYM 22-0 in the 2006 opener. New York Mills turned the ball over five times in the loss.
"The first time against them, we didn't play so well," senior quarterback Grant Cameron said. "We knew we could beat them this time. Everyone doubted us, but we had confidence."
That confidence was surely shaken when Browerville took the opening kick-off 67 yards and set up first-and-goal at the Eagle seven. Three plays later, just 1:23 into the game, the Tigers were up 6-0.
New York Mills quickly gathered themselves and promptly started marching down the field. After a 32-yard pass completion to Tarrel Flanigan, the Eagles were in business.
They capped their 13-play, 75-yard drive with Burg's first touchdown three plays later from one-yard out.
"That was big for us to come back and score," Burg said. "We got right back into it."
Browerville's failed two-point conversion and Mills' successful one, a pass from Cameron to Tarrel Flanigan, gave the Eagles a 8-6 lead.
Mills started their next drive in the exact same spot, their own 25-yard line. With Burg pounding the ball up the middle and Brendan Frost hitting the corners, they started marching again. The big play of this drive was a 35-yard run by Burg to end the first quarter.
The Eagles kept slowly marching, eating away the clock until Burg broke through for his second score with 8:55 to play in the half.
"That rushing game was awesome," Cameron said. "I just kept giving it to Jason and Brendan and they got big gains on every carry.
The Eagles lone mistake, an interception, gave Browerville life as the second quarter ended. The Tigers picked up a quick touchdown after a short drive. A successful two-point pass tied the game 14-14 at the half.
Burg picked up his third touchdown in the third quarter, giving the Eagles a 20-14 lead. A lead the defense held on to as if their life depended on it.
"I don't think it's really sunk in yet," Burg said. "You always dream you'll get here. It doesn't seem real yet."
"I can't say enough about the defense," Radniecki said. "It just seems like every week we keep making big plays and either it's an individual or in this case, the entire team holding Browerville out of the end zone from the one-yard line on four consecutive plays.
"Obviously this is a huge win for this team and our program," Radniecki continued. "To make the State Tournament is a dream come true for many of us and I am extremely proud of this team and what it has done."
The dream becomes reality this Friday when they take on No. 7 Fertile-Beltrami in the Class A State quarterfinals.
F-B beat Warren-Alvarado-Oslo in the Section 8A finals.
"They have a very good running back," Radniecki said. "We will need to contain him. It will be a similar challenge in that we will have to stop him like we did Hoelscher."
"We are not done yet," Cameron said. "We have another game to play. It feels good to be able to say that at this time of year."
Section 6A Championship
Thursday, November 2
#1 New York Mills 20, #2 Browerville 16
B--Hoelscher 1 run (run failed) 10:37
NYM--Jason Burg 1 run (Flanigan pass from Cameron) 4:59
NYM--Burg 4 run (pass failed) 8:55
B--Hoelscher 1 run (Spychalla pass from Hoelscher) :27
NYM--Burg 9 run (pass failed) 5:54
1st Downs 15 9
Rush--yds 53-254 40-91
Pass yds 43 125
Comp--Att-In 2-8-1 7-18-1
Sacks-yds 2-10 1-5
Punts-ave 2-31.5 2-46.5
Fbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Pen-yds 5-14 3-20
Rushing--22-161-3; Brendan Frost 19-52; Grant Cameron 11-28; Kenny Szmonowicz 3-13.
Passing--Cameron 2-8, 43 yds, 1 Int.
Receiving--Pat Peltier 1-11; Tarrel Flanigan 1-32.
Defense--Frost 13 tkl; Thomas Lambertson 12 tkl.