In an exciting matchup that went down to the wire, the Milbank Area Bulldogs suffered a disappointing 20-13 loss to the Aberdeen Roncalli Cavaliers Friday night at Clark Swisher Field. The Dawgs fell to 2-1 on the season with the loss.
“This is a hard loss to swallow,” stated Milbank Area head football coach Jeremy Tostenson. “We prepared well all week and played with effort but couldn’t find a way to win.”
Throughout the first quarter, both offenses moved the ball and gained strong yardages, but each defensive group held the game scoreless.
Just minutes into the second period, Roncalli scored on a long 86-yard run on a fluke play. The Cavaliers fumbled the ball which took a lucky bounce into the hands of Conner Deutsch. He maintained control and ran the long distance to the goal line. Roncalli’s two-point conversion pass was intercepted in the end zone by Riley Wollschlager which kept the score at 6-0.
After exchanging punts, it was the Bulldogs turn to shine. Milbank Area moved the ball upfield with big runs by Tanner Gauer and Tristan Hall. Facing a fourth down and one, Isaac Snaza pushed the ball up the middle for a big first down just outside the red zone. On the next play, Snaza handed the ball off to Kyle Montag who ran around the left end, stopped and threw his left-handed bomb to Gauer for a huge first down at the nine-yard-line. Snaza then faked the hand-off and drove up the middle for a TD to even the score at 6-6. Montag’s extra point kick was successful, and Milbank overtook the lead at 7-6 to end the first half scoring.
Milbank Area recovered a Roncalli fumble early in the third period, but was unable to convert the turnover into points on the board. With a short field advantage, the Cavaliers used a little trickery of their own. Quarterback Braden Sommers handed the ball off which was reversed then flipped back to Sommers who threw a bomb 32-yards for a TD. The Bulldogs stopped the conversion run to hold the score to 12-7 with just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs faced a short field after a fumbled Roncalli punt and used the advantage. On the second play of the series, Gauer ran the ball around the left end for a 38-yard touchdown to take a 13-12 lead. Snaza’s pass to Jacob Jackson in the end zone was broken up and the Dawgs held the one-point margin with eight minutes in the contest.
Milbank Area’s defense, led by Jake Anderson, stepped it up another notch and held the Cavaliers to a punt. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs punted the ball itself with just under five minutes remaining.
Aberdeen kept plugging away and completed a long pass to bring the Cavaliers to within striking distance at the nine-yard-line. Anthony Andera found paydirt on a three-yard TD. Roncalli’s conversion was successful and they took over the lead at 20-13 with 1:28 remaining in the game.
With the fans biting their nails, Milbank Area was looking to move the ball quickly down field. Snaza threw a long pass which unfortunately fell into the Cavalier’s hands and ended hopes of a Bulldog comeback.
“We need to take this loss and use it as motivation to come back ready to work Monday,” noted Tostenson. “This team is making great strides. This is a test to stay focused on one play, one practice and one game at a time.”
Gauer led the offense with 80 yard rushing on nine carries, 15 yards receiving and one touchdown. Snaza followed with 44 yards rushing on 11 totes, 34 yards passing on three completions, one touchdown and one interception. Hall added 37 yards rushing on 11 carries while Montag had nine yard rushing, 10 yards receiving and 15 yards passing. Jackson caught one ball for 25 yards receiving.
On the defensive side, Anderson led the team with five tackles, two assists and one sack. Ben Nelson and Devin Stricherz had four tackles each while Koben Huber and Gauer had two apiece. Zach Angerhofer and Snaza had two, and Derrick Aho, Dalton Koch, Cole Dockter, Matt Lenards, Tanner Kettwig, Hall, and Taran Mogard added one tackle each.
Milbank Area finished the game with 219 total yards of offense. The Dawgs had 170 yards rushing and 49 yards passing. Roncalli ended with 314 yards – 215 yards rushing and 99 yards passing.
The Bulldogs will host Groton Area Friday night at AB Campbell Stadium in its 2015 homecoming contest.