Tri-Valley edges McCook Central/Montrose for 11B titleVERMILLION — For the third straight year, and in the exact same fashion, Tri-Valley handed McCook Central/Montrose a playoff loss. This one will be remembered the most.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
VERMILLION — For the third straight year, and in the exact same fashion, Tri-Valley handed McCook Central/Montrose a playoff loss.
This one will be remembered the most.
Tri-Valley scored the game-winning touchdown with 1:32 left on the clock to beat the Fighting Cougars 18-14 in the Class 11B state high school football championship Thursday at the DakotaDome in Vermillion. The Mustangs finished their season undefeated with 12 wins.
“Our motto this year is to finish, but we didn’t quite do it,” said McCook Central/Montrose senior running back and linebacker Dominic Blindert, whose team finished its season 10-2.
The last two years, Tri-Valley defeated the Fighting Cougars in the first round of the state playoffs with second-half touchdowns to take late leads. It happened again Thursday night.
McCook Central/Montrose scored two second-half touchdowns to rally from a 12-0 halftime deficit and take a 14-12 lead, but the Mustangs went on a four-play, 55-yard drive that resulted in a 5-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brett Page to Andrew Buchmann.
The Fighting Cougars got the ball back with three timeouts and 1:28 left, but only gained three yards in the final four plays.
“Came up short,” said McCook Central/Montrose running back Andy Kappenman, who earned the game’s Joe Robbie MVP award after rushing for 196 yards and one touchdown on 30 carries. “It’s the championship game and a loss. It hurts.”
Tri-Valley’s game-winning drive came after blocking Kappenman’s punt late in the fourth quarter.
After the block, the Mustangs got the ball on McCook Central/Montrose’s 45-yard line, and a 46-yard swing pass from Page to Kyle Erickson set up the final touchdown.
“They’re a good football team, but the ball has bounced our way the last several times we’ve played them,” Tri-Valley coach Brad McDonald said. “I don’t know if we have their number or not. It was just one of those things that it worked out in our favor in the end.”
The Fighting Cougars capitalized off a Tri-Valley fumble on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. The Mustangs’ Logan Koopman lost the football, which was picked up by McCook Central/Montrose’s Billy Kapperman.
After three Kappenman runs and a 3-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown from quarterback Gavin Gassman, the Fighting Cougars trailed 12-7.
Tri-Valley went three-and-out on its next possession, and an eight-play, 44-yard drive was finished by Kappenman on an 8-yard score, giving the Fighting Cougars a 14-12 lead.
“We came fighting back, and it was a battle,” McCook Central/Montrose coach Ryan Evans said.
Tri-Valley opened the game with two first-quarter touchdowns. The Mustangs scored on their first possession, an 11-play, 66-yard drive. Cooper Hausmann scored on a 21-yard run with 4:48 left in the first quarter. Hausmann was given the game’s outstanding back award.
On its next drive, Tri-Valley needed only two plays to score and got a 34-yard run from Hausmann to take a 12-0 lead.
Tri-Valley finished with 160 yards rushing, 143 of which came in the first half. It also got 82 yards of passing offense, no play bigger than the 46-yard completion that set up the winning touchdown.
“Never in my mind did I say, ‘Oh, gosh. Again?’ ” Evans said. “This has happened now three years in a row. But in the end, this is a different team, and (our kids) took our program to another level this season.”
Blindert finished with 18 yards rushing and Gassman was sacked three times. One of the sacks came on second-and-5 during the Fighting Cougars’ final possession that essentially killed any hopes of a comeback.
This was McCook Central’s first trip to the state title game. Montrose has made five trips to the championship game and has won two titles.
MCM 0 0 14 0—14
Tri-Valley 12 0 0 6—18
TV: Cooper Hausmann 21 run (kick failed) 4:48
TV: Hausman 34 run (conversion failed)
MCM: Gavin Gassman 3 run (Zach Bies kick) 10:08
MCM: Kappenman 8 run (Bies kick) 4:59
TV: Andrew Buchmann 5 pass from Brett Page (conversion failed) 1:32
First downs 11 13
Rushes-yards 41-160 47-192
Passing yards 82 4
Return yards 50 57
Passes 4-7-0 2-4-0
Punts 4-162 6-176
Penalties-yards 4-25 3-15
Time of Possession 22:17 24:53
RUSHING — MCM: Kappenman 30-196, Blindert 6-18, Gassman 11- -22; TV: Hausmann 18-109, Erickson 7-32, Koopman 6-29, Page 5-1, Buchmann 3- -7.
PASSING — MCM: Gassman 2-4-0-4; TV: Page 4-7-0-82.
RECEIVING: MCM: Kappenman 2-4; TV: Erickson 1-46, Buchmann 2-21, Welbig 1-15.