GRANITE FALLS - Through its first two drives, the Yellow Medicine East football team looked set to go down to the wire with Sauk Centre.
Looking to get in the win column after a winless 2011 season, the Sting looked primed after tying the game on a 38-yard touchdown play-action pass from Aaron Lalim to Nathan Anderson. And on the ensuing possession, YME corralled a fumble to get the ball at the Mainstreeters' 7-yard-line.
But on the next play, the Sting fumbled and effectively killed their momentum, while Sauk Centre put up 14 more points in the first quarter, cruising to a 46-6 West Central Conference victory Friday in Granite Falls.
Photo by Joe Brown
Yellow Medicine East’s Kolten Anderson (35) levels Sauk Centre wide receiver Seth Otte during the second quarter of Friday’s West Central Conference game in Granite Falls.
"They gave us a gift down on the seven-yard-line," said YME head coach Mike Gaffaney, "and on the very next play, we fumble it and they went in and scored to get their second touchdown.
"We always talk about momentum in high school, any one play can do it. ... (Fumbles) are things we need to clean up."
The Sting fumbled three times in the first half, with two coming in Sauk Centre's side of the field.
"In the first half, YME only punted one time. They were moving the ball, they completed some nice passes, but they shot themselves in the foot," said Mainstreeters head coach Charlie Warring. "As much as you look at the score, they turned two of them over in our territory. They moved the ball very well, but turnovers killed them."
After Roosevelt Austin scored for Sauk Centre on an 8-yard run to start the game, YME got the ball moving on its second drive as running back Jacob Pederson rushing for 46 first-half yards. The junior speedster finished with 88 yards on 19 carries.
With the Mainstreeters' defense creeping up to stop the run, the Sting went to the air with Anderson beating a defender down the sidelines for a 38-yard touchdown reception.
"The pass plays were open pretty good, and I just looked down the field," said Lalim, who was 7 of 12 passing for 117 yards. "They had a little gap in their coverage and I took advantage and took it to them."
But as the Sting struggled to hold onto the football, the Mainstreeters' no-huddle spread attack got points up in a hurry.
Quarterback Patrick Knoblauch directed the hurry-up offense flawlessly the first half, accounting for three of the Mainstreeters' four touchdowns. The senior signal-caller finished the game 10 of 15 for 110 yards and three passing touchdowns, and also ran for 28 yards and a score.
"Patrick's a smart kid, and he's got instincts and feel for that kind of stuff and can kind of freelance," Warring said. "When he rolls out, he can make things happen, and the receivers were smart enough to roll with him."
Austin was held to just 4.8 yards per carry in the first half, but he blew away the Sting's defense in the second half with an 85-yard scamper to the end zone to put the score at 39-6. He finished with 196 yards on 19 carries
"If you throw out (Austin's) two big runs (the 85-yard touchdown and a 36-yard run), his yards per carry weren't real good," Gaffaney said. "He had 1,600 yards and over 20 touchdowns last year, so he's the real deal."
While still looking for its first win since Oct. 26, 2010, YME saw some encouraging signs on Friday. Now, if they can eliminate the mistakes, the Sting think some good things can happen.
"The scoreboard didn't show how well we did," Lalim said.
The Sting (0-1 overall) look to regroup next Friday at Benson.
Sauk Centre20 6 20 0-46
YME6 0 0 0-6
SC-Roosevelt Austin 8 run (kick failed), 9:31
YME-Nathan Anderson 38 pass from Aaron Lalim (kick failed), 4:14
SC-Nick Adams 7 pass from Patrick Knoblauch (kick failed), 2:06
SC-Knoblauch 15 run (Adams pass from Knoblauch), 0:32
SC-Seth Otte 7 pass from Knoblauch (kick failed), 0:29
SC-Josh Buschette 15 pass from Knoblauch (Thomas Schwinghamer field goal), 9:16
SC-Austin 85 run (kick failed), 5:28
SC-Austin Landkammer 5 run (Schwinghamer field goal), 1:50
Rushing: SC-Roosevelt Austin 17-196, Austin Landkammer 5-74, Patrick Knoblauch 6-28; YME-Jacob Pederson 19-88, Trey Cox 5-14.
Passing (comp-att-yards-int): SC-Knoblauch 10-15-110-0; YME-Aaron Lalim 7-12-117-0.
Receiving: SC-Seth Otte 4-42, Josh Buschette 4-33, Nick Adams 2-24; YME-Nathan Anderson 3-79, Kolten Anderson 3-25.