It all went down to the wire at the Dakota Dome in the game between Milbank and Vermillion on Friday, September 9. In the last minute of regulation, the Bulldogs were poised to score, tie the game, and potentially go ahead on the conversion. But, it was not meant to be. And, although Milbank fans found the final score lacking, they got their money’s worth in excitement.
The Dawgs had been down by as much as 19-0 until the middle of the third. Vermillion had scored a touchdown in the first quarter and kicked for the extra point to take the lead at 7-0. The Tanagers landed another touchdown in the second, but their extra-point attempt was no good.
The third time they planned to take advantage of the scoreless Dawgs, Milbank’s Jacob Johnson clipped their wings by nailing an interception. Although the Bulldogs reclaimed possession, they couldn’t find a way to capitalize on the opportunity, and the score remained at 13-0 at halftime.
Early in the third quarter, the Tanagers got on the board again when they punched through with another touchdown to cushion their lead at 19-0.
The worm began to turn, though, when Jace Jonason returned a kickoff to the Milbank 30-yard line and Aidan Foell continued to funnel the ball toward the goal. Quarterback Garrett Mertens executed a 16-yard pass to Emmett Hanson for another first down just inside the 10-yard line. Then, three runs later, the Bulldogs found themselves just shy of the goal at the one-yard line. Mertens sneaked over the line for the touchdown. Tate Schlueter completed the conversion attempt for two to boost the Bulldog’s score to 19-8.
Vermillion regained possession but were denied another touchdown by the Bulldog’s defensive line. The Tanagers appeared to be satisfied to settle for a field goal and push their lead to 22-8. The Bulldogs were not deterred.
Milbank started out with the ball in the fourth quarter and kept it moving in the right direction. Vermillion was slapped with expensive penalties and Mertens managed to maneuver the ball across the line for the six-point score. His two-point pass to Yohana Ajwanga was good and the Bulldogs were suddenly threatening the Tanagers at 22-16.
Eli Johnson kept the momentum flowing when he teamed up with Mertens for a trio of on-target passes that set up the Bulldogs inside the 10-yard line. But, Vermillion retaliated with a quick sack. On the next play, the Tanagers caught a lucky break and the ball. Connor Peterson intercepted a pass intended for a Milbank receiver. The Bulldogs weren’t out of heart, but they were out of time. The game ended seconds later at 22-16
Milbank (0-3) 0-0-8-8 — 16
Vermillion (1-2) 7-9-6-0 — 22
MHS head coach Brian Allmendinger said, “The guys played extremely hard against Vermillion. We were able to come back in the second half and give ourselves a chance to win the game. The team continues to get better each week and works hard. We will face another very good team on Friday, [when we play] against Dakota Valley.
The game starts at 7 p.m. on Friday, September 16, at A.B.Campbell Stadium in Milbank. Everyone is invited to join the Bulldogs during their 2022 Homecoming celebration.