Posted 9/29/15 (Tue)
By Jody Michael
Tyler Deering ran for his first touchdown of the season and Noah Lorentz had two second-half scoring runs to lift Divide County to a playoff berth-clinching 26-22 homecoming win over Ray on Friday.
Taylor Landsverk carried 22 times for 158 yards and Lorentz added 97 yards in seven tries for the Maroons, who are now 5-1 overall and 5-0 in Region 6 after the North Dakota High School Activities Association last week announced that Kenmare-Burke County must forfeit its Sept. 4 win against DC.
Atati Mita totaled 118 yards on 12 carries and five catches, including two TDs for Ray (2-4, 2-3 Region 6). Garrett Hodenfield completed eight of 16 passes for 154 yards and three TDs.
It was the first meeting between the schools since 2008, when Ray was part of a Williams County co-op team with Tioga that later moved up to 11-man play. The Jays are fielding their own team this season for the first time since 2001.
The Jays moved as close as their own 35 with 1:14 remaining, but their drive ended with a play in which Bunker Hill took a handoff from Hodenfield and subsequently launched a nearly 20-yard pass that Landsverk intercepted.
“I told them it was my fault,” Ray head coach Steve Perdue said. “It probably wasn’t the best play to call, but he was trying to make a play. It’s just one of those deals where it comes down to a play or two. We didn’t make them, and they did.”
“Defensively we played hard and tackled well, but we still need to see improvement in a couple areas,” Divide County defensive coach Nate Nelson said. “A win is a win, and we will certainly take it.”
Lorentz’s first score, a 14-yard breakthrough, pushed DC in front 20-14 late in the third quarter.
“Ray had a nice game plan for us defensively,” Divide County offensive coach Bob Brown said, “but when you put that many people up in the box, you are susceptible to bigger plays, and we were able to capitalize on that with some perimeter plays and misdirection.”
The Maroons’ next drive saw Lorentz find daylight again, a 22-yarder to make it 26-14 with 11:54 to play, but Derek Hale took a Hodenfield pass on the Jays’ ensuing possession for a 34-yard score.
DC moved to Ray’s 17 following Hale’s score before Aidan Eriksmoen fumbled a snap and Clay Thoreson recovered the loose ball. A nearly identical turnover also occurred in the second quarter.
“We had problems tonight putting the ball on the ground, which is just something we can’t afford to do,” Brown said. “We don’t have a lot of wiggle room for error, so ball security is huge.”
After offenses had at the start been bogged down, with a punt by each team and a Hodenfield pass picked off by Colton Molloy, the Maroons jumped ahead 14-0 when Landsverk rolled to a 40-yard score and Deering added a 54-yarder on the final play of the first quarter, with Eriksmoen running in the two-point conversion.
Hodenfield, throwing with the wind in the second quarter, connected with Mita for a 54-yard score on the next drive.
“We felt going in that we had a little better passing game than running game,” Perdue said.
Two plays after DC fumbled on the following series, Hodenfield found Mita in the end zone for another TD, then again for the game-tying two-point conversion, and the deadlock held into halftime.
The Maroons head on the road Friday, facing Tioga in a matchup that will affect playoff positioning.
“I hope we will see all our fans make the road trip to Tioga for a huge game this Friday,” Nelson said. “Tioga has an excellent backfield with tough runners, lots of speed. We will need to be at our best to try contain their big-play ability.”
The Jays are at Mohall on Friday.