T-G-U falls to Parshall-WS in 9-man semifinals
Towner-Granville-Upham got the start it wanted against Parshall-White Shield.
Unfortunately, it was the second quarter, the Titans would like to have back.
T-G-U jumped out to a 12-0 lead after one quarter of play, but P-WS scored 22 points in the second quarter and wrestled momentum away from the Titans en route to a 30-26 footbal victory in the 9-man state semifinals on Nov. 7 in Parshall.
“This was a hard one to swallow,’ T-G-U coach Scott Thorson said. “You look back at a play here or there that could of changed things.”
T-G-U took the early lead when junior quarterback Tyler Thorson scampered 30 yards to the end zone for a 6-0 lead. He finished with 122 yards rushing on 14 carries.
The Titans would increase the margin to 12-0 when senior running back Ian Keller scored on a three-yard run with just four seconds remaining in the opening quarter. Keller ended up with 90 yards on 17 carries.
However, it would be late in the third quarter before the Titans would again get into the end zone.
P-WS not only got its offense going in that critical second quarter, but it also tightened their defensive play.
P-WS would get on the board with 8:23 remaining in the first half when Payton Two Crow rushed in from four yards out. It a big third down pass completion from quarterback Jaren Enockson to receiver Greg Oster that kept the drive going.
“We were inches away from sacking the quarterback and he floated one up there into double coverage and their receiver makes a play,’ Thorson said. “If we can sack the quarterback or break up the pass than we’re up 12 and get the ball again.”
The Braves would then register a safety after T-G-U punter Keller was tackled in the end zone, following a bad snap.
P-WS received the ball after the safety and marched down field, ending on a Two Crow’s seven-yard run with 1:34 to play.
However, the Braves weren’t finished.
P-WS would take over after stopping the Titans on a fourth-and-one play near midfield.
“If I had it over, I probably would have punted it away,’ Thorson said. Enockson would break off a long run deep into Titan territory. Enockson then rolled out and connected with receiver Harrison Zacher for a 14-yard TD pass with :10 seconds left in the quarter.
Momentum was clearly on the Braves’ side, and the halftime break little did to change that. It was another big run that set up another P-WS score early in the third quarter. Cole Hendrickson busted a run for 54 yards up the middle and scored three plays later from five yards out, giving the Braves a 30-12 lead.
T-G-U came into the game knowing it had to contain the Braves’ potent running attack. The Titans were effective in taking away P-WS’s sweeps and runs to the outside, but the Braves managed to do its damage between the tackles. “They made the adjustments and ran some traps, counter-traps,’ Thorson said.
T-G-U would find the end zone again on Thorson’s 23-yard scoring run with 2:35 left in the third quarter cut the deficit to 12. The Titans then moved the ball to the Braves’ nine-yard line midway through the fourth quarter, but the drive stalled. That turned out to be a critical scoring chance that went by the board.
“We needed a score there,’ Thorson said. “If we do, than maybe it puts pressure on them and gets momentum back on our side.”
T-G-U did score once more, but it came in the final seconds. Brad Bethke reeled in a 38-yard TD pass Thorson. The two-point conversion was successful.
Thorson was 12 for 20 for 166 yards and the Titans racked up 416 yards of total offense.
“I think that’s the most pass yards we’ve had in quite awhile and looking back we probably should have thrown the ball more often,’ Thorson said. “They couldn’t shut it down.”
T-G-U convereted just one of four of its two-point plays. “When you’re up 12-0, you don’t think of those missed conversions, but obviously when the final score is just four points, you can’t help but look back at them,’ Thorson said.
The loss was a disappointing end to what otherwise was an incredible playoff run for T-G-U. The Titans (7-3) won three straight road playoff games and reached the semifinals for the first time since 2002.
However, it fell just a little short of the program’s second appearance in the championship game.
“I feel bad for our five seniors,’ Thorson said. “They played a big part of this run and to come up just short (of a championship game appearance) is tough.”
On the flip side, T-G-U has several players who will return next season with plenty of experience and success to draw on.
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