Prep Football: UNC comes up short in wild one with Thunder
By Mike Isola/Beyond the Bleachers – Reprinted with permission
Sebeka, Minn. (September 27)—Friday night’s Prairie North Conference game between United North Central and Long Prairie-Grey Eagle had more plot twists than the popular high school football sitcom bearing the same name.
If Hollywood writers weren’t paying attention, well, they should’ve because it didn’t get crazier than this as the Thunder survived a wild second half to beat the Warriors 32-27 in front of packed stadium in Sebeka.
Both teams combined to score 18 points in a span of five plays and 1:40 in the third quarter.
United North Central’s first drive of the second half ended in fumble at their 41 yard line. The Thunder capitalized on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Tommy Geisenhof to Jacob Harvey to push their lead to 18-7 at the 7:22 mark.
The Warriors answered immediately when Tom Tellers took the ensuing kickoff to the house for an 83 yard touchdown return. The PAT kick was blocked to make it a five-point ballgame, 18-13.
Any momentum United North Central gained was wiped out on the Thunders ensuing possession when Geisenhof found Cody Marcyes for a 38-yard scoring strike on a fourth-and-sixth play. Warrior defensive back James Clark had defensed the pass near the 15-yard line but the tipped ball floated right into Marcyes hands and the junior tight end scampered untouched into the end zone.
The game settled down briefly after that as the Warriors offensive struggles continued. Two of the three UNC possessions in the second half resulted on fumbles on the first play of the drive and the Thunder sacked quarterback Tyler Eckman for a safety with 4:28 left in the fourth quarter.
Then the game got even crazier after the Thunder fumbled on their first play after receiving the free kick.
UNC reached into their bag of tricks as Eckman pitched the ball to Tellers, who swept right and just before getting to the line of scrimmage, unleashed a 41 yard touchdown pass to a wide open Thane Dailey left untouched behind the Thunder secondary.
Long Prairie-Grey Eagle nearly answered on the ensuing kickoff when Marcyes found a seam up the middle, cut to the right along the LPGE sideline and took off downfield before getting dragged down near the goal line. However, an unsportmanlike conduct penalty after the play pushed the Thunder back to the 16-yard line. Geisenhof once again came up with a big play on fourth down to squash the Warriors momentum.
Facing fourth and 10, Geinsehof was flushed out of the pocket and rolled to the right. The senior quarterback threw a perfect strike to a diving Derek Eberle inside the right pylon for his fourth touchdown pass of the night that gave the Thunder the 32-21 lead with 2:31 remaining in the game.
“Those two fourth down plays they converted into scores really ended up hurting us,” United North Central head coach Jeremy Nordick said. “We had them on the ropes, but [Geisenhof] is a really good quarterback and stayed cool under pressure to make those plays. He played very well and was able to hurt us with his pinpoint passing.”
United North Central figured that if it worked once, it’ll work again in what turned out to be their last possession of the game. Starting at their 35 yard line with 2:25 left, the Warriors opened the drive with a 10 yard run from Kirby Hrdlicka. On the next play, Eckman completed his only pass of the game to Tellers, who was three yards behind the line of scrimmage and the junior unleashed another pass to a wide open Dailey for a 60-yard scoring strike.
With less than two minutes to play, the Warriors were unable to make the defensive stop as the Thunder converted two key first downs to run out the clock for the 32-27 final.
“If we were to take away the things that hurt us tonight—those two big plays on fourth down and our turnovers—I feel it would’ve been a whole different ballgame,” Nordick added.
The Warriors had four turnovers in the game. The first turnover led to a five-yard touchdown run by Alex Lemke to cap the 13-play, 81-yard scoring drive that gave LPGE a 12-0 lead in the second quarter.
Geisenhof completed 11 passes for 217 yards and four touchdowns. His 36-yard touchdown pass to Harvey late in the first quarter was the first score of the game.
United North Central finished with 207 total yards of offense. Hrdlicka pulled the Warriors within 12-7 with a 40-yard touchdown run just before halftime. The sophomore finished with 71 yards rushing on 10 carries as the Warriors were held to one yard rushing in the second half.
Tellers rushed for 40 yards on 10 touches and threw two passes for 101 yards, both to Dailey.
Long Prairie-Grey Eagle finished with 424 yards of total offense in the victory. Lemke led all rushers with 68 yards on 12 carries. Jack Mechels had 47 yards rushing on 11 carries and Noah Urman 45 yards on 12 carries. Cody Marcyes led the receiving corps with four catches for 93 yards. Jacob Harvey had three receptions for 80 yards.
United North Central (0-5) travels to Osakis at 7 p.m. Friday
United North Central on September 26
Thunder 32, Warriors 27
LPGE 6 6 12 8—32
UNC 0 7 6 14—27
LPGE—Jacob Harvey 36 pass from Tommy Geisenhof (run failed) 1:20
LPGE—Alex Lemke 5 run (run failed) 6:38
UNC—Kirby Hrdlicka 40 run (Tristan Palmer kick) 1:01
LPGE—Harvey 31 pass from Geisenhof (run failed) 7:22
UNC—Tom Teller 83 kickoff return (kick blocked) 7:09
LPGE—Cody Marcyes 38 pass from Geisenhof (run failed) 5:33
UNC—Thane Dailey 41 pass from Tellers (Tellers run) 4:07
LPGE—Derek Eberle 16 pass from Geisenhof (pass failed) 2:31
UNC—Dailey 60 pass from Tellers (run failed) 2:03
Rushes-Yards: UNC 25-109; LPGE 51-207
Pass Comp-Att-Int-Yards: UNC 3-12-0-98; LPGE 11-17-0-217
Total Offense: UNC 207; LPGE 424
First Downs: UNC 6; LPGE 17
Fumbles-Lost: UNC 5-4; LPGE 2-2
Penalties-Yards: Not available
Rushing: UNC—Kirby Hrdlicka 10-71, Tom Tellers 10-40, Tyler Eckman 3-(-3), George Lausten 2-1; LPGE—Tommy Geisenhof 8-10, Bryant Tarin 5-19, Alex Lemke 12-68, Noah Urman 12-45, Matthew Roe 3-18, Jack Mechels 11-47
Passing: UNC—Eckman 1-10-0-(-3); Tellers 2-2-0-101; LPGE—Geisenhof 11-17-0-217
Receiving: UNC—Thane Dailey 2-101; LPGE—Derek Eberle 2-33, Jacob Harvey 3-80, Cody Marcyes 4-93, Mechels 1-2, Timmy Twist 1-9
Defensive Standouts: UNC—Lynard Wright fumble recovery, Charles Haataja fumble recovery
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