Knights Overcome Slow Start To Advance
REMSEN – The second meeting of the Graettinger/Terril Knights and the Rockets of Remsen-Union played a little differently than the season opening game this year did, but when it counted, it was Graettinger/Terril who claimed the 48-32 victory Monday night. The win creats another deja’vu moment for the Knights, as they will once again host Armstrong-Ringsted on Friday night in the quarterfinal round at Evergreen Park in Graettinger.
It’s the same scenario as the 2009 playoffs, when the Knights hosted the Mustangs for the quarterfinal, and saw their season end in a loss to the eventual state champions.
But, as they say, that’s water under the bridge. At hand was Monday’s matchup with the Rockets, the same team that the Knights opened their season with back in August at Remsen.
After losing that first meeting to the Knights by a 25-12 tally, the Rockets seemed to have the game in complete control to start on Monday night.
Graettinger/Terril was held to a three-and-out on the first possession and Remsen Union would score off a 74 yard bomb to take a 6-0 lead. Coach Karlton Hector’s Knights would respond, however, scoring off a 44 yard halfback pass from Nate Howard to Beau Craig to tie the score. Howard added the conversion run and the Knight took a two-point, 8-6 lead.
The Rockets quickly responded, running the ball in on the ensuing possession for a 28 yard score and a 12-8 lead. The Remsen Union defense held firm and stopped the Knights, getting the ball back deep in their own territory. The Rockets would drive downfield and capped off their drive with a four yard run to take an 18-6 lead just into the second quarter.
An uncharacteristic fumble by the Knights would kill their resulting drive, and gave the Rockets the ball, which they drove into the red zone. But, the fortunes of football smiled on Graettinger/Terril and the Rockets fumbled the ball back to the Knights.
The turnover fueled a drive the length of the field that was capped off with a one yard plunge into the end zone by Nate Howard that cut the Knights’ deficit to 18-14. There would be no more scoring in the half, as Remsen Union squandered a scoring opportunity with a penalty for an ineligible receiver just before the intermission.
Trailing 18-14 to start the second half, the Knights knew they had to get their offense back on track and keep it there. But first, the defense had to step up. Remsen Union would take the opening kickoff of the half and engineer a scoring drive to take a 24-14 lead over the Knights midway through the third quarter.
Graettinger/Terril shrugged the score off and went to work the only way they know how. Quarterback Eric Hatland put the ball in the air and hit Nate Howard with a 53-yard strike for a score and the conversion kick cut the deficit to 24-21.
The Graettinger/Terril defense took its’ turn, stopping the Rockets dead in their tracks, and shifting to the offense, the Knights were beneficiaries of a pass interference call. Eric Hatland would keep the Rockets off-balance with a couple good runs that set up a two-yard run by Howard midway through the third frame for a four-point, 28-24 lead over Remsen Union. The Rockets took the kick and worked the ball downfield, eating up the clock, but the Knight defense held firm and closed out the quarter with a stop that left the score at 28-24.
Graettinger/Terril would take over on the offense to start the final quarter and put the scoring machine into high gear. A 14 yard pass from Hatland to Beau Craig put another six points on the scoreboard for a 34-24 advantage.
The defense stepped up again as the Rockets drove into the Knights’ kingdom, only to have Jeremiah Andrews intercept a pass in the end zone to kill a scoring drive. Andrews would bring the ball out inside the 10-yard line and the Knights went to work.
Nate Howard took a handoff and raced 33 yards to mid-field. Eric Hatland hit Colin Leiting with a 20 yard strike and with help from a penalty against the Rockets, the Knights were at the Remsen Union 10 yard stripe. Being patient, the Knights finally were rewarded when Howard ran in from four yards out for the score.
The Rockets would score one final time and add a two-point conversion to make the score 41-32. But, Graettinger/Terril wasn’t through just yet. After taking the kickoff downfield, the Knights would get a 32 yard run from Howard for the final touchdown. Hatland’s kick made the score 48-32 with just under 2:00 to go in the contest.
Remsen Union would get the ball back and went into their two-minute offense, quickly working their way downfield, but the game came to a close when Graettinger/Terril’s Blaze Alesch stepped in front of a desperation pass to the end zone and stole the ball away from the Rockets to effectively end the game in the 48-32 win.
The Knights racked up 248 yards rushing off 42 carries, while Hatland completed 13 of 21 passes for 198 yards and Howard added one pass for 44 yards for a total of 242 passing yards to amass 490 yards of offense in the victory.
Nate Howard rushed the ball 29 times for 172 yards, while Eric Hatland added 12 carries for 71 yards. Jeremiah Andrews carried the ball four yards on one rushing attempt and Heath Marchand had a one yard rushing attempt.
Beau Craig caught eight passes for 134 yards while Colin?Leiting had two catches for 49 yards and Nate Howard had two receptions for 53 yards. Jeremiah Andrews added two catches for six yards.
Defensively, the Knights were led by Jeremiah Andrews with 13 tackles, Eric Hatland with 11 tackles and Heath Marchand with 10 stops. Blaze Alesch and Jeremiah Andrews both intercepted passes in the winning effort.