The Menahga-Sebeka Co-op called United North Central football team would travel to Rothsay on Thursday night as the weather moved up most of the area games all across western Minnesota. The Winter Storm Warning would hold off but the rain would not. Either way we were having a football game featuring the UNC Warriors who were 2-1 in their last 3 games played, against the Rothsay Tigers who had a tough loss last week against Ortonville.
Rothsay would get their offense going first as they would receive the opening kickoff. After trying an onside kick the Tigers would get excellent position. With the rain coming down and the field being wet the Tigers appeared to abandon the passing game early and run down the field scoring on a 13 yard run while not attempting one pass. The 2-pt conversion would fail and the Tigers would lead early on 6-0. The Warriors would try to match as they have a good running game as well. But a penalty on the first set of downs would be too much to overcome and they would be forced to punt on a 4th and 12. On their second possession Rothsay looked to keep their momentum going but a penalty of their own would stall out their drive failing on a 4th and 8.
United North Central would find a formula of success in their second possession going down the field and finishing the drive converting a few 3rd downs and scoring on a 3rd and goal from the 1 yard line, after a 17 play drive that took a lot of time off the clock. They would take the lead by getting the 2-pt conversion, 8-6. The Tigers would soon get the lead back scoring on a 40 yard touchdown pass to gain the lead 12-8. The Warriors would threaten in their next possession but the Tiger defense would make some big plays and get the stop on their own 10 yard line. With less than a minute to go the Tigers would be content to take the lead into halftime.
“We ran and blocked well in the first half,” Rothsay Coach Joshua Nordick said. “We had to change our game plan a bit because we just couldn’t get a clean grip on the ball defensively. We saw some opportunities in the pass game but just didn’t feel too comfortable holding the ball in the rain.”
In the second half both teams would look to keep the ball on the wet ground trying not to make that crucial mistake in the wet muddy conditions. It would be the Tiger defense who would make the first big play as they would stop the Warrior offense on a 4th and 3 in the opening drive of the half. The Warrior defense would get it right back as they would stop the Tigers on a 4th and 5. With a shorter field the UNC Warriors would find the end zone after an 11 play drive finishes with a 5 yard touchdown run to take the lead 14-12 which is how the 3rd quarter would end.
The 4th quarter the Tigers see the Tigers finally hit a big run scoring on a 59 yard touchdown run to retake the lead 14-20. The Warriors would look to get a big run of their own but be forced to punt on a 4th and 19 down by 6 points. It would pay off as they would force a fumble by the Tigers and get the ball on the Tiger 30 yard line. The Tiger defense would make some more big plays and force a turnover on downs getting the ball back on their 16 yard line. It would only take one play this time as they Tigers would score on a 84 yard run extending their lead to 26-14.
The Warriors would try to make it interesting hitting on a 30 yard pass play on their first play but it was the Tigers night to shine as they would hold them out of the end zone and run out the rest of the clock for a final score of 26-14.
“Our defense played great tonight,” Nordick said. “They have a good line and a good back but we were able to get a couple good stops and get the ball back to our offense. Colby Larson had a big game tonight and hit a couple big runs. We knew we had that play ready for when we needed it and he made it count.”
Larson Finished with over 275 yards and with the Tigers winning the overall yards 346 total offense to the Warriors 262. Noah Fiedler added a Receiving TD pass for the Tigers as well.
UNC was led by Jonah Howard with 123 yards on 32 carries, and 3 catches for 36 yards. Tyce Lee caught two balls for 48 yards and Kolby Kiser completed 5-of-14 passes for 84 yards.
"It was wet and cold and messy out on the field," commented UNC Head Coach Luke Roberts. "Overall, we ran the ball 55 times and only passed 14 (9 of them in the 4th quarter)."
Defensively, Jonah Howard recovered a fumble and the leading tackler on the night was Brandon Miller with 3 solo tackles and 10 assists.