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Verndale Coach Mike Mahlen Wins 400th Career Game as Pirates Top Rothsay

By Joshua Nordick/Craig Olson, 10/17/19, 7:45AM CDT


The 6-1 Verndale Pirates traveled to Rothsay to take on the Tigers fresh off their own win.  When the dust settled the Pirates had handed Head Coach Mike Mahlen his 400th career coaching victory.

“It was Parents night for the Tigers and we had all 3rd grade through 12th grade football players and their parents out on the field,” said Head Coach Joshua Nordick. “The sight of all the players the community has brought hope to the crowd and the players as they faced a tough test in the ranked Verndale Pirates with a head coach looking for his 400th career win.”

Rothsay received the opening kickoff and gained a few first downs, building the momentum.  On a fourth and 3 they appeared to get the first down but a holding penalty backed them up and made them try again.  The pass was incomplete, giving Verndale their first opportunity on offense.  The Pirates quickly showed why they are a ranked team by marching down the field and scoring on a 35 yard run by Craig Orlando and a two-point conversion pass from Dilan Orlando to Jake Ismil to go up 8-0.  After recovering an onside kick they marched back into the end zone on a 3 yard run by Craig Orlando and a two-point conversion run by Ismil to go up to 16-0.  Rothsay fumbled on their second play of the ensuing drive giving the Pirates excellent field position to try to put this game almost out of reach early, however, the Tiger defense got a big stop forcing a turnover on downs and ended the 1st quarter still with a chance to get back in the game. 

Deep in their own territory the Tigers were able to gain some yards back but were forced to punt.  Verndale once again took their physical brand of football to the Tigers and scored on a 30 yard run by Ismil and a conversion pass from Dilan Orlando to Zak Olsson to extend their lead 24-0.  Rothsay once again moved the ball but the drive stalled out.  Verndale dominated the line of scrimmage and marched down the field once again to extend the lead to 30-0 when Gideon Ervasti broke free for a 20-yard TD run.  With 4 minutes left in the half the Tigers would finally string a drive together and score on a 2-yard run by Colby Larson before the half for a halftime score of 30-6.

In the second half Ervasti scored two more times on two-yard runs, and Ismil ran in another conversion for a final score of 44-6. 

“I thought the boys played hard tonight,” said Coach Nordick.  “They have been battling all year, but Verndale is a good team and very physical.  We had a tough time getting off blocks and filling gaps.  We will face another tough test next week as we will likely play the number one ranked team in the state in the first round of playoffs.”

Verndale finished with 283 (265 rushing, 18 passing) yards of offense.  They were led by Craig Orlando with 171 rushing yards on 14 carries.  Ervasti added 84 yards on 10 attempts and Ismil ran the ball 8 times for 75 yards.  Olsson and Brandon Greenwaldt had interceptions for the Pirates.

Rothsay ran for 157 yards and passed for 90 more, giving them 247 yards of total offense.