The Milbank Area Bulldogs suffered a 34-28 overtime loss to the Groton Area Tigers Friday, September 16, on the road. The team’s record dropped to 3-1.
“This loss isn’t the end,” said Bulldog head coach Jeremy Tostenson. “We have a lot of season left and we need to get focused on Sioux Valley now.”
The two undefeated teams gave the fans their money’s worth. From the start, it was a defensive battle with teams exchanging punts several times. Little did anyone know, five touchdowns would be scored in the first quarter.
Midway through the first period, Bulldog quarterback Jonny Ash threw an interception that was returned to the end zone by the Tigers to put the first points on the scoreboard. A failed extra point attempt gave Groton Area a 6-0 lead.
Milbank Area took over on their own 25-yard line. On the first play of the series, senior Tanner Gauer ran the ball 75 yards to the house for the touchdown. Ash’s extra point kick was good and the Dawgs took the lead at 7-6.
Groton answered with a 61-yard TD run. The Tigers two-point conversion failed. Milbank Area trailed 12-7.
The Bulldogs again began the charge on their own 24 yard line. Ash threw a long bomb up the middle to Gauer who was tackled at Groton’s 25. Ash connected with Cole Dockter on a 20-yard TD pass to score. The extra point kick was good, giving Milbank Area a 14-12 lead with just over three minutes left in the quarter.
But the action wasn’t over for the first period. The Tigers connected on a long pass and found themselves in the red zone at the 11-yard line. Groton ran the ball near the goal line, fumbled the ball, and recovered it in the end zone for the TD. The conversion attempt was successful and the Tigers regained the lead at 20-14 to end the first quarter.
Both teams settled down for the remainder of the first half. Groton fumbled the ball deep in their own territory.
Milbank Area recovered. Ash and company started a drive at the Tiger’s 15. A quarterback keeper put the ball on the one-yard line and Ash pushed over the goal line for the TD. His kick was good and the Bulldogs went ahead 21-20. The Dawgs took the lead into the locker room.
Milbank Area started the second half with the football on their own 32-yard line. A solid offensive drive, with big runs by Cole Dockter and Jacob Karges and a reception by Cody Dockter, led to a long pass to Nate Bien within striking distance. Facing a fourth and goal, Ash completed a pass to Cody Dockter in the end zone. The extra point kick was successful giving the Bulldogs the 28-20 advantage with eight minutes on the clock in the third period.
Groton Area answered with a 49-yard reception for the score. The Tigers found the end zone on the conversion to knot the score at 28-28 with four minutes left in the period.
In the fourth quarter, penalties, quarterback sacks, a Groton Area interception, and tough defensive stances by both teams left both teams scoreless in the quarter and forced the game into overtime.
Milbank Area got the first chance to score in the overtime period. With first and 10 on the 10 yard line, Cole Dockter ran the ball to the five. Karges was stopped at the line of scrimmage before Jake Anderson slipped bringing up a fourth down on the six-yard line. Ash set up to kick the field goal, but a flag for equipment failure pushed the Bulldogs back and Ash was forced to re-kick. His second attempt was no good and Groton Area got their chance to score from the 10-yard line. The Tiger quarterback found the end zone on his third attempt to give Groton Area the 34-28 victory.
“The better football team did not win this game,” Tostenson stated. “We simply did not make enough plays when we needed to.” Milbank Area ended the night with 390 offensive yards. Ash threw for 153 yards. Team rushing totaled 237 yards. Groton Area finished with 305 yards, including 178 passing and 127 rushing.
Ash went 10 for 21 passing for 153 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. Gauer led the team with 76 yards rushing on three carries and a TD and 56 yards on one reception. Karges followed with 75 yards on 13 totes and Anderson added 40 yards on four carries. Riley Wollschlager contributed 28 yards rushing on two carries and 17 yards on two catches. Cole Dockter finished the night with 13 yards rushing on five totes and 21 yards on two receptions. His brother, Cody Dockter, added 20 yards on two catches.
Defensively, Anderson and Ethan Paysen led the team with eight tackles each. Tanner Kettwig was credited with three solo tackles, two assisted tackles, and one quarterback sack. Koben Huber had two solo tackles, two assists, and a QB sack. Karges ended with four tackles; Riley Folk and Ben Nelson, three; and Cole Dockter and Taran Mogard, two.
Pictured is junior Ethan Paysen.