Knights Stumble In Quarter Final Matchup
GRAETTINGER – It would have been a perfect Cinderella story: the underdog prevails against near-insurmountable odds to end up with the top prize. In this case, the prize would have been a state championship trophy – but such was not to be for the Knights of Graettinger/Terril.
The Knights would see their dreams of that title shot dashed Friday night in a 70-19 loss to Armstrong-Ringsted in an Eight-man Quarterfinal playoff game.
The two teams had met earlier in the regular season, with AR claiming a 39-22 win over the Knights in what was called “the Mud Bowl”. On Friday night, however, there was no mud to contend with, only the desires of two teams to advance to the state semi-finals.
Armstrong-Ringsted got the opening kickoff and needed just five plays to score, as Tyler Tonderum found the end zone from eight yards out with 10:21 to go in the game. A conversion kick from Ethan Eisenbacher would give the Mustangs a 7-0 lead as the battle was joined.
For the Knights, however, the battle went badly on the first series. Ace running back Nate Howard was tweaked on a tackle and hobbled slightly, forcing the GT drive to stall out.
The Mustangs took over at their own 30 yard line and quickly drove downfield on the back of workhorse Tyler Tonderum, who would race into the end zone from 19 yards away with 8:01 to go in the first quarter. Eisenbacher added the conversion for a 14-0 lead as the Knights were struggling to get any kind of offensive flow going in their favor.
After a touchback on the kickoff, GT got the ball at the 15 yard line, but stalled out and had to punt the ball away.The Mustangs began another drive, which was aided by a defensive pass interference call against the Knights with 4:44 to go in the quarter.
With a first and 10 at the GT 19, the Mustangs backed up to their 24 off a fumble on the snap that was recovered by quarterback Spencer Clausen. But on the next play, Tonderum took the handoff and simply bulldozed his way into the end zone for a 24 yard score. The kick would put the Mustangs up with a 21-0 lead with 4:01 to go in the quarter.
After another touchback, the Knights tried to mount a drive, but on a second down play, quarterback Cody Dyhrkopp passed down the Mustangs’ sideline, only to have the pass picked off by Clausen at the armstrong-Ringsted 39 yard line with 3:11 to go in the opening frame.
It didn’t take long for the Mustangs to charge to the end zone, as Clausen found Bryson Rezac all alone in the flat and slipped a 44 yard pass into the end’s hands for a score with 3:00 to go . The Eisenbacher kick made the score 28-0 as the Knights were left somewhat stunned by the turn of events.
After getting the ball back on a touchback, Graettinger/Terril would get a first down and then benefit from a late hit penalty against the Mustangs to bring the Knights to the AR 32 yard line.
Dyhrkopp drove the Knights down field, and on a third and one at the 11 yard line, got the first down to keep the drive alive as the first quarter ended.
But the Mustang defense stiffened and pushed the Knights back to the 15 yard line. However, Dyhrkopp would fake a handoff and raced into the end zone from 15 yards out to give the Knights their first score of the game with 11:11 to go in the half. The conversion kick attempt by Eric Hatland would be blocked, forcing the Knights to settle for a 28-6 score.
It took the Mustangs less than a minute to answer back with another Tonderum touchdown run with 10:35 remaining to give the Mustangs a 35-6 advantage.
The Knights would go backwards in their own territory on their next possession, until Dyhrkopp passed to Beau Craig on third-and-10 to keep their drive alive. With new life, GT kept pounding away, using Howard’s hard-nosed running until they got to the two yard line.
With 5:13 to go in the half, Dyhrkopp would plunge two yards in for the score, Hatland’s kick was on the mark, making the score 35-13.
But that was all the closer Graettinger/Terril would get.
Tyler Tonderum and the Mustangs would go on to score two unanswered touchdowns to extend the Mustang lead to 49-13 with 1:43 to go in the half.
The Knights had a final chance, but came up short on a third down, setting up a 39 yard field goal attempt by Hatland that would fade left at the horn, ending the half with the Knights trailing 49-13 at the intermission.
With the clock running continuously to start the second half, the Knights opened on offense but failed to mount a drive as they were forced into a three-and-out.
G/T’s defense stiffened on the ensuing Mustang possession and had Tonderum dead-to-rights on third down and five, but the senior tailback changed directions, broke several tackles and found daylight, speeding ahead for a 29-yard run to give the Mustangs a first down.
On the very next play, Tonderum broke free for a 15-yard touchdown with 5:46 left in the third quarter, extending the Mustangs’ lead to 56-13.
Howard answered back on the following possession with a 36-yard run of his own to cut the lead to 56-19 with 7:13 to go, but it was too little too late for the Knights after the kick was blocked.
Clausen grabbed his second interception and had two touchdown runs of 51 and 4 yards to seal the 70-19 win.
Unofficially, Howard had 161 yards on 19 carries for the Knights. Dyhrkopp was 7-of-12 passing for 71 yards. Hatland had three catches for 30 yards. Drew Skattebo had two catches for 18 yards and Craig had one catch for 12 yards.