TRACY - With a talented and experienced group of seniors, the Tracy-Milroy-Balaton football team had high expectations for itself entering the 2010 season. While the Panthers had showed flashes last year, they still hadn't gotten that key victory against a top team to take their program to the next level.
They got that win Friday night against No. 9-ranked Dawson-Boyd, coming back from a 14-0 deficit in the second quarter to pull out a 32-27 victory in Tracy.
"This is our biggest win in the last couple of seasons," TMB co-head coach Derek Flann said. "That's a very good football team. We got down early and gave them some short fields, but we battled back, which was great to see."
Photo by Matt Dahlseid
Tracy-Milroy-Balaton receiver Dominic Dolan (9) runs for a first down after catching a pass from quarterback Shane Erickson during the second quarter of Friday night’s Little Sioux Conference game against Dawson-Boyd in Tracy.
Senior quarterback Shane Erickson went 16-for-27 through the air for 192 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Panthers offensively. But it was senior receiver Dominic Dolan who made the big play that helped get his team back into the game.
D-B opened the game marching down the field behind quarterback Ryan Swenson, who ran for his team's first touchdown in the first quarter and hit receiver Zach Stelter for a 10-yard scoring strike early in the second quarter as the Blackjacks looked to have control of the game.
But after the TMB defense forced a three-and-out with 9 minutes, 36 seconds left in the first half, Dolan returned a punt 93 yards down the Panthers sideline for a score to provide a jolt to his team's confidence. After a two-point conversion from Erickson to Dolan, TMB had cut the lead to 14-8.
D-B7 7 6 7-27
TMB0 14 6 12-32
D-B-Ryan Swenson 2 run (Swenson kick)
D-B-Zach Stelter 10 pass fom Swenson (Swenson kick)
TMB-Dominic Dolan 93 punt return (Dolan pass from Shane Erickson)
TMB-James Fultz 15 pass from Erickson (attempt fail)
TMB-Fultz 15 pass from Erickson (attempt fail)
D-B-Stelter 33 pass from Swenson (attempt fail)
TMB-Spencer Schwartz 10 pass from Erickson (attempt fail)
TMB-Taylor Hoffbeck 28 run (attempt fail)
D-B-Nathaniel Hout 23 pass from Swenson (Swenson kick)
Rushing: TMB-Taylor Hoffbeck 13-47; D-B-Ryan Swenson 18-73, Justin Lee 9-116.
Passing (comp-att-yards-int): TMB-Shane Erickson 16-27-192-2; D-B-Swenson 10-26-145-3.
Receiving: TMB-James Fultz 5-72, Spencer Schwartz 5-59; D-B-Zach Stelter 3-48.
"You've got your key guys and you need them to make a play when the momentum isn't on your side and a 90-yard punt return will usually do that," Flann said. "It was a big kid stepping up, making a big play when we needed it."
TMB's defense kept D-B off the board the rest of the half, and with 38 second remaining in the half, the Panthers capped a 97-yard scoring drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Erickson to senior receiver James Fultz to tie the game at 14.
The Panthers got the ball to start the third quarter and kept on rolling. With Erickson hitting his receivers and running back Taylor Hoffbeck picking up yards on the ground, TMB went on a 13-play scoring drive. Erickson finished off the drive with another 15-yard touchdown pass to Fultz, who caught the ball in the right corner of the end zone, just barely getting his foot inbounds.
D-B came back the next drive and marched down the field, but looked to be stalled when the Panthers forced a fourth-and-five at the TMB 32-yard line. But again, Swenson was able to connect with Stelter, who was open down the right sideline and ran into the end zone to tie the game at 20 with 2:32 remaining in the third quarter.
To keep the pressure on the ranked Blackjacks squad on the ensuing possession, the Panthers went on an 11-play, 68-yard drive with Erickson finding yet another receiver for a score. On a key fourth-and-four play from the D-B 10-yard line, Erickson was back in the shotgun and wasn't able to initially handle the snap. He quickly picked the ball off the ground, scanned the field and found senior receiver Spencer Schwartz open in the middle of the end zone for his third touchdown pass.
With Swenson tightly covering Dolan throughout the game, Erickson said he was proud of the way his other receivers were able to find openings in the Blackjacks defense.
"We knew that they were going to cover Dom pretty heavily and we have an awesome receiving corps," Erickson said. "I knew that I'd have the options there and they just stepped up (Friday) and we're making the catches and getting open and really did a great job."
Down 26-20 with 10:09 left in the fourth, the Blackjacks made their way into Panther territory looking to tie or take the lead. Then on a third-and-three play, Swenson had a pass deflected by Fultz and picked off by Hoffbeck, who returned the interception to the D-B 30-yard line.
Swenson got the ball back three plays later when he picked off Erickson at the TMB 10-yard line, but the Blackjacks again gave the ball away when D-B running back Justin Lee fumbled the ball on his team's first play from scrimmage.
Lee was running in place of the injured Esten Weber, who broke his arm in the Blackjack's 72-0 win over Renville County West. Weber came into the season as the team's top back and leading tackling from a year ago as a middle linebacker.
Dawson-Boyd head coach Cory Larson said he was proud of the way Lee and the rest of his team played without Weber, but said mistakes came back to haunt his mostly inexperienced team.
"We had a couple of other turnovers to capitalize on during the first half and we didn't do it and that kind of hurt us in the second half," Larson said. "Our turnovers that we had, they capitalized on them. That makes a big difference in great high school football games like that and it's going to come down to one play here or there."
Later in the fourth, TMB appeared to close out the game after picking off Swenson for the third time and capping its drive with a 26-yard touchdown run by Hoffbeck to go up 32-20 with 2:45 remaining.
Swenson and the Blackjacks, however, fought to the end. The senior quarterback moved his team down the field and hit Nathaniel Hout for a 23-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 32-27 with 1:01 left. But Swenson's ensuing onside kick attempt was collected by the Panthers, giving TMB the upset win.
Lee ended the game with 19 carries for 116 yards, while Swenson ran the ball 18 times for 73 yards and threw for 10 completions for 145 yards and three touchdowns.
Larson said the Blackjacks asked a lot from Swenson in Friday's game and was impressed with the effort his quarterback put forth in keeping his team in contention.
TMB (2-0) will try to keep its place at the top of the Little Sioux Conference when the Panthers travel to Canby next Friday in a battle of unbeatens. The Blackjacks will try to regroup and continue to develop their less-experienced players in a home game against Russell-Tyler-Ruthton.