Posted 10/18/16 (Tue)
By Jody Michael
The Divide County football team traveled 265 miles to Hettinger on Saturday and pulled off a 36-32 road win in the state nine-man playoffs’ first round.
“What a tremendous effort,” DC defensive coach Nate Nelson said. “It was a BYOG kind of day: bring your own guts.”
Dejuan Jenkins led DC to four first-half scores, and Aidan Eriksmoen scored a crucial touchdown and two-point conversion in the third quarter after Jenkins had exited with an injury.
“I was extremely proud of every player,” DC offensive coach Bob Brown said. “We have had some adversity lately, and it was great to see them challenge it head-on.”
The Maroons (6-3) held a 36-20 advantage after three quarters before the Night Hawks (6-3) began to orchestrate a comeback. But despite two Hettinger TDs in the fourth quarter, the DC defense stopped both two-point conversion attempts to preserve the lead.
Divide County will play Saturday at 2 p.m. at Region 4’s top seed, North Prairie, in Rolette.
“North Prairie is a very good team who is battle-tested,” Nelson said. “They made it all the way to the championship game last year, so they understand playoff football. It will be our biggest test so far.”
The victory in Hettinger came a week after Divide County managed just seven yards of total offense in a 52-6 loss to Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood.
“We saw a total 180-degree difference in the team that played at Mohall last Friday and the team that played at Hettinger,” Nelson said.
Jenkins ran for scores of 50 and 14 yards for a 12-point first-quarter lead, as the defense held the Night Hawks to three-and-out on the game’s first drive, and Alex Bailey recovered a fumble on Hettinger’s next possession to set up a short field.
Hettinger found paydirt on each of its next three drives, none of which were more than six plays. The Maroons quickly answered the first two -- Jenkins scored from 53 yards out, found Eriksmoen for a 6-yard TD and added a conversion -- before the Night Hawks narrowed the halftime margin to six.
Jenkins finished the half with 169 yards. But for all he did, the team’s effort in his absence was just as vital.
After Jenkins took the second-half kickoff 27 yards to the DC 41-yard line, never to return, Eriksmoen, Bailey, Taylor Landsverk and Isaac Ellingson combined to run 59 yards in 14 plays, converting on third-and-1, third-and-7 and fourth-and-2 to set up Eriksmoen’s 6-yard score and conversion.
“Our offensive gameplan changed to a smash-mouth approach, and the players really responded to the challenge,” Brown said. “Our offensive line did a great job up front.”
Eriksmoen finished with 132 yards on 26 carries, and Landsverk averaged 7.9 yards per carry in his 10 attempts. Hettinger’s Isaiah Kludt and Jaxon Mellmer respectively ran for 129 and 122 yards.
Damon Cornelius’ 6-yard touchdown run with 8:25 left pulled the Night Hawks within 36-26, but he was tackled for a loss on the conversion attempt, keeping the margin at two possessions.
The Night Hawks completed only one of five two-point conversions; Divide County had two. That, and a third-quarter safety when the snap for a Hettinger punt sailed 24 yards out the back of the end zone, were the difference.
After the Cornelius score, the Maroons worked the clock, going 53 yards in nine plays and 4:37, but a fumble on first and goal at the 6 kept Hettinger’s hopes alive. Mellmer hit Kludt on a 52-yard touchdown with 2:34 left to get within four.
Dylan Rose recovered Hettinger’s onside kick attempt, and Eriksmoen ran for two first downs to run out the clock.
Divide County 36,
1st 2nd 3rd 4th
Divide County 12 14 10 0
Hettinger 8 12 0 12
DC -- Dejuan Jenkins 50 run (run failed), 5:42.
DC -- Jenkins 14 run (run failed), 4:39.
Hettinger -- Jaxon Mellmer 49 run (Isaiah Kludt pass from Mellmer), 3:37.
DC -- Aidan Eriksmoen 6 pass from Jenkins (Jenkins run), 7:05.
Hettinger -- Kludt 52 run (pass failed), 6:47.
DC -- Jenkins 53 run (pass failed), 6:28.
Hettinger -- Kludt 26 run (run failed), 3:54.
DC -- Eriksmoen 8 run (Eriksmoen run), 4:42.
DC -- Safety, ball snapped out of end zone, 3:04.
Hettinger -- Damon Cornelius 6 run (run failed), 8:25.
Hettinger -- Kludt 52 pass from Mellmer (pass failed), 2:34.
Divide County: Aidan Eriksmoen 26-132, Dejuan Jenkins 20-169, Taylor Landsverk 10-79, Alex Bailey 7-15, Isaac Ellingson 2-19, Colton Molloy 1-5.
Hettinger: Jaxon Mellmer 11-122, Isaiah Kludt 10-129, Damon Cornelius 2-7, Kyle Burwick 1-4.
Divide County: Dejuan Jenkins 2-7-0-8, Alex Bailey 0-1-0-0.
Hettinger: Jaxon Mellmer 5-9-0-89.
Divide County: Aidan Eriksmoen 2-8.
Hettinger: Isaiah Kludt 2-68, Damon Cornelius 2-0, Kyle Burwick 1-21.
Troy Knudson -- 1 assist, 5 tackles.
Colton Molloy -- 3 assists, 5 tackles, 1 batted ball.
Alex Bailey -- 3 assists, 3 tackles, 1 fumble recovery.
Taylor Landsverk -- 3 tackles, 1 batted ball.
Riley Lund -- 1 assist, 2 tackles, 1 batted ball.
Joran Oien -- 2 tackles, 1 sack.
Tyler Deering -- 1 tackle, 2 tackles for loss.
Aidan Eriksmoen -- 1 assist, 6 tackles, 1 tackle for loss.
Jayden Nygard -- 2 tackles.
Last week’s games
Richland 18, Linton 10
Cavalier 50, Hatton-Northwood 20
Kidder County 24, New Rockford 22
Wyndmere 49, North Border 24
Divide County 36, Hettinger 32
Kenmare 70, Drake-Anamoose 12
TGU 44, Tioga 0
St. John 42, Bowman County 0
This week’s games
Richland at Thompson
Cavalier at Napoleon
Kidder County at Hankinson
Wyndmere at Shiloh Christian
Divide County at North Prairie
Kenmare at Richardton-Taylor
TGU at New Salem-Glen Ullin
St. John at MLS