01 September 2012

Special teams, defense carry Tigers past Mayo

Reid Taubenheim 4 FG's, including school record 48-yarder (photos by Jim and Ruth Lindquist)
The special teams were special. The defense was dominant and Athen Ashton returned a kickoff for a touchdown as the Tigers rolled to a 19-7 non-conference win over Rochester Mayo Friday night at Tiger Stadium.

The victory marked the first time Farmington has won its season opener in four years and delighted an enthusiastic crowd that basked in balmy temperatures under the light of a rare blue moon.

Those in attendance witnessed a once-in-a-blue-moon performance by junior kicker Reid Taubenheim who re-wrote the Tiger place-kicking recordbook by drilling four straight field goals.
His 48-yarder in the second quarter obliterated the previous record kick by six yards, clearing the crossbar with yards to spare.

Taubenheim finished with field goals of 21, 33, 43 and 48 yards and also had a good night punting the ball. Late in the final period, he ran down an errant snap and got off a kick that prevented Mayo from getting the ball inside the Tiger 20.

Athen Ashton finishes off an 88-yard kickoff return (photos by Jim and Ruth Lindquist) 

"Reid had a great night," coach Mark Froehling said. "One of the best plays was the punt where he was falling. That was a 35-yard play."

The Tigers led 3-0 early before the Spartans put together their only sustained drive of the night, marching 64 yards on 13 plays to take a 7-3 lead with 10:45 remaining in the half.

That advantage disappeared in a blink of an eye when Ashton got outside and streaked 88 yards up the right sideline on the ensuing kickoff to give Farmington the lead for good.

Taubenheim added two field goals before intermission to make it 16-7 at the break to set up a second half dominated by defense.

The swarming Tiger defense (photos by Jim and Ruth Lindquist)

The Farmington defenders put up a brick wall over the final two periods, allowing but one Mayo first down until less than two minutes remained.

Defensive coordinator Glenn Mogensen said his team's new-look 3-4 front played a part in his unit's success but added most of the credit should go to the players.

"I made some call in the first half that I usually don't," he said. "We got ourselves out of position a couple of times and it hurt us.

"We got that straightened out at half and after that it was all effort by our guys. We created a lot of movement and brought guys from different positions. We are quick but not so big so we have to mix things up a little."

Head coach Froehling agreed.

"I thought we did a great job, especially on first down," he said. "The boys ran to the ball well, reacted to their reads and made some big plays."

Nick Ruark (5 tackles, 5 assists) and Taubenheim (1 tackle 9 assists) each hit double digits to top the Tiger tackling charts. John LeBlond  and Mason Auge totaled nine apiece and Godfrey Mpetey, Alex Chadwick and Kevin Clifton recorded seven each.

Denver Robinson recorded 2 sacks (photos by Jim and Ruth Lindquist)
Denver Robinson had three tackles and came up with a pair of sacks and a pass knockdown. Chadwick and Ruark also registered sacks for the winners.

The only scoring of the second half came on Taubenheim's fourth field goal of the night, a 43-yarder midway through the third period.

The Tiger offense didn't put any touchdowns on the board although it did have its moments, driving deep into Spartan territory several times only to stall out on penalties and/or quarterback sacks.

Ashton was a workhorse out of the backfield, gaining an unofficial 142 yards rushing to go with his kickoff return.

All-Missota Conference quarterback Darren Beenken had trouble finding adequate time to pass but did throw for an unofficial 135 yards, including a 64-yard bomb to Mac Bassett.

"We had some trouble in the second half when they rushed six with outside pressure," Froehling said. "We hurt ourselves in the red zone a couple of times where we lost yardage which makes it difficult to score touchdowns.

"I thought both Athen and Darren had great first games and our special teams and defense were outstanding. Special teams had a hand in all 19 of our points."

Next Friday night the Tigers kickoff their Missota Conference season with a road game at Northfield where bragging rights and possession of the Tractor Trophy will be at stake. The Raiders lost to St. Paul Central 14-8 in their opener Friday night.