Titans face familiar opponent in quarterfinal
The first meeting between TGU and Westhope-Newburg-Glenburn wasn’t much of a contest. The Titans scored three times in the first quarter and led 28-0 at the half en route to a 40-18 rout in late September.
The teams meet again at 2 p.m. today in Towner with a spot in the 9-Man semifinals on the line.
“The key that has kind of been our motto all year is how we start the game and go from there,” TGU coach Scott Thorson said. “The second key is, defensively, to shut down their all-state quarterback, senior Hunter Braaten. He’s so diverse in what he does. He’s an excellent passing quarterback, but he’s quick with his feet. We have to keep him in the pocket.”
The Titans (10-0) did a good job of that in the first game, but the Sioux (8-2) have improved. WNG is coming off a 44-42 thriller over Grant County-Flasher in the first round, and limiting opposing offenses only gets harder when facing TGU junior quarterback Eli Luna.
The shifty dual-threat led the Titans to a 42-14 win over Beach last week. TGU built a 28-7 halftime lead on three TD passes and a 32-yard punt return by Luna. Colter Thorp caught one of the passes for a 93-yard score.
“We played pretty well and Beach, being the No. 4 seed, they came and played awfully well against us,” Thorson said. “They matched up with us pretty well and gave us some trouble. After that we wore them down a little bit.”
The Buccaneers scored once in the third quarter, and junior Hunter Schell and Luna added the insurance with fourth quarter TD runs of 1 and 34 yards, respectively.
WNG fell to Hazen in the Class A championship last year and TGU lost in the 9-Man semifinals. The Sioux moved to 9-Man this season. Both teams returned most of the players and the playoff experience. Thorson said his team isn’t overconfident, but is ready to continue the undefeated run.
“They’re veterans in the playoffs and hopefully that’s a benefit for us,” he said.