07 September 2013

Football: Tractor Trophy staying put

Mason Auge (photo by J. Lindquist)
Mason Auge's 65-yard interception for a touchdown with 5:20 to play capped an uphill climb for the Tigers in a 21-14 Missota Conference victory over Northfield Friday night at Tiger Stadium..

The win raised Farmington's season record to a perfect 2-0 and insured the Tigers will keep the Tractor Trophy for the foreseeable future. Time will tell when the the two old rivals will meet again on the football field.

When the Missota Conference disbands next spring The Tigers move to the South Suburban Conference while the Raiders take up residence in the Big Nine Conference.

The last match-up, at least for awhile, between the two old foes was a game of two halves in which the home team had to dig its way out of a 14-0 first quarter deficit.

The Raiders scored their first touchdown on the game's first possession, an 80-yard drive that took just 3:16 off the game clock. The second came in the waning seconds of the opening period and had the large partisan crowd in the west bleachers scratching its collective head.

The visitors looked like they were going to go up by three scores when a wide open receiver couldn't hold on to a sure touchdown throw early in the second quarter.

Things were looking bleak for the Tigers as the half approached when Mason Gaylord's interception with 1:46 before the break seemed to light a fire under the sluggish Farmington offense.

Quarterback Tyler VanWinkle completed all four of his passes in the ensuing 75-yard scoring drive that ended with an 11-yard touchdown throw of 21-yards to Jordan DeCroock with 43 seconds to play until intermission. A 26-yard pass and run from VanWinkle to Mac Bassett set up the score.

Tractor Trophy staying at FHS
From there to the exciting finish when Gaylord and Max Aldana combined to break up a fourth down pass in the final minute of play, The Tigers took on a different look.

The defense dominated and the offense mixed in the run just enough to give VanWinkle time enough to dissect the Raider secondary. The senior signal caller finished his second career start with 16 completions in 21 throws for 237 yards and two touchdowns.

The second came in the third period on a critical fourth and 15 from the Northfield 35 where he found Bassett behind the Raider defense for a 35-yard score to knot the count at 14-14.

Neither team could move the ball in the final period. Midway through the quarter VanWinkle threw an interception to give the Raiders life. Five plays later Auge returned the favor and used his sprinter's speed to find the south end zone for the game-winning points.

Tyler VanWinkle 16-21, 237 yards, 2TD's (photo by Jim Lindquist)
"We showed a lot of tenacity in the second half," Tiger coach Mark Froehling said. "Sometimes it isn't easy. We stayed together and played together to the end. This game wasn't given to us. We earned it tonight."

Froehling also pointed to his team's depth as an important factor in keeping the Tractor Trophy in the home barn.

"We had some injuries to key people so we had to have other guys step in and do the job," he said.

Two-way starter Johnny Dittman missed much of the game with what appeared to a be a sprained ankle and starting running back Derek Klotter didn't return after suffering a shoulder injury.

Northfield had 19 first downs to just 10 for the Tigers but for the second week in a row the winners proved to be capable of making the big play.

Mac Bassett 3 catches, 108 yards, TD (photo by Jim Lindquist)
Bassett who was shutout in the season opener, grabbed three balls for 108 yards and the tying touchdown. DeCroock scored his fourth touchdown in two games and VanWinkle threw his fourth and fifth TD passes of the young season.

In addition to his late game heroics Auge led the team in tackles with nine. Eli Rockett totaled 7.5 from his safety position. Reid Taubenheim and Nick Ruark each chipped in with six.

Next week the Tigers hit the road for  Missota Conference game at Red Wing. The Wingers have started the season 0-2.

NOTE: For free downloadable high resolution image files from this game visit Jim Lindquist's website at http://sidekick.smugmug.com