Bo Olson was almost a miracle man Friday. We could use the word "miracle" if Olson's Tigers had actually won. We could use the word anyway, but any number of other adjectives would do justice. Like, "stupendous."
Friday, Oct. 11, saw Olson's Tigers square-off against the Dutchmen of Melrose. It was a rough night at our Big Cat Stadium for trying to enjoy football. Weather was acting up. From my booth at DeToy's Restaurant, I saw at least one big streak of lightning cross the sky. There was a tornado watch. The wind was oppressive.
Still, I'm sure many enthusiastic fans turned out. Congrats on the enthusiasm, but I passed on this week in order to attend the jazz concert at the University of Minnesota-Morris. No weather issues for me. The concert was terrific. Be sure to put UMM music events on your calendar.
The Tigers have found points hard to come by through stretches of this season. Against ACGC it was zero. Against Melrose on Friday, there was a goose egg on the scoreboard for each of the first three quarters.
Would the Tigers be shut out again? Melrose was seen as a beatable foe. Back when the Tigers were 1-4, many sports insiders locally said the odds were high of the team finishing 4-4. The Tigers did take care of business against Montevideo. They did not against Melrose.
Bo Olson thrilled fans with two late touchdowns but the Tigers came up shy. Melrose was the 18-14 winner at Big Cat.
The Melrose fans had to be plenty nervous at the end. But they did go home happy, motoring along I-94 to the east. When I was a kid, Melrose's Mark Oldberding was one of the best basketball athletes in the nation. He had a pro career.
Did the Friday loss dampen hopes for a home playoff game? I'm not sure, but so many fans seemed to assume we'd finish the season 4-4. Never assume in sports.
A knowledgeable source told me before the season that new coach Kevin Pope "wanted to try some new things." Considering the offensive slumps and the collapse vs. Sauk Centre, I'm not sure those new things are working all that well. I wonder if we'll hear suggestions for Jerry Witt and Lyle Rambow to come back. Hmmm.
Melrose's Friday win pushed the Dutchmen's record to over .500 at 4-3. They scored in three of the four quarters Friday. They seemed in a position to just cruise the rest of the way. As it turned out, they did have enough points to win.
First it was Blake Gerads scoring on a 15-yard pass reception from Matthew Beste. The point-after kick try failed. Seth Noll scored in the second quarter for the Dutchmen. This young man with the same last name as the famous Pittsburgh Steelers coach scored on a one-yard run. The Streeters failed on a two-point conversion run try.
Melrose's third TD came on a Gentry Middendorf five-yard run. The PAT kick try was no good.
The Tigers broke loose late but it was too late. First, Bo Olson scored on a 91-yard kickoff return. Then there was a successful two-point conversion pass: Bryce Jergenson to Trent Wulf. (The Willmar newspaper spelled the name "Wolff.")
Finally there was a 28-yard TD pass from Jergenson to Olson to close out the night's scoring. The conversion run try failed.
Time was against the Tigers. They needed to show more of an offensive flourish earlier in the game. Where was it? It must have been frustrating for the orange and black fans who also had to contend with the ferocious wind.
Such a storm must cause lots of people to hold their breath - those people who just recently had their roofs and/or shingles replaced. We have even had some small hail in October. We're not supposed to get hail in October here. Global climate change. More extreme weather.
Stats from Friday
The Tigers had 13 first downs vs. Melrose compared to 11 for Melrose.
Isaac Wente had a good rushing total again, 95 yards, but he needed 29 carries. He represented nearly the entire MACA rushing attack. Three Tigers had negative yardage, and Nathan Anderson picked up nine yards on one carry.
Jergenson in the passing game was hurt by three interceptions. He hooked up with receivers for seven completions in 17 attempts for 100 yards.
Olson made waves as a pass-catcher with four catches for 71 yards. Trent Wulf had two catches for 16 yards, and Corey Storck had one for 13. (The Willmar newspaper omits the "e" in "Corey.")
Noah Grove was the punter and put his foot to the ball twice (31.5 average). The tackle chart standouts were Nathan Anderson, Isaac Wente and Gage Backman.
Zach Pierskalla of Melrose surpassed 100 rushing yards in his 14 carries. Quarterback Matthew Beste didn't have to pass the ball much.
Melrose had three fumble recoveries. Seth Noll sacked the QB once.
If the stats are correct, the Tigers lost three fumbles and had three passes intercepted. A big handicap.
The Tigers will now play in the annual mid-week game, what we used to call the "MEA week game," Wednesday night vs. Yellow Medicine East on the road. The YME game ends the regular season.
Click on the permalink below to view my Flickr photo album of the Tigers' 2013 season. Thanks for viewing.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - firstname.lastname@example.org