Tigers survive Squadron

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 20, 2004

For the second home game in a row, the lights went out at Luverne School's Glenn Daniel Stadium.

Fortunately for the seventh-ranked Tigers (2-1, 2-0), last Friday evening was much brighter than their home debut as they picked up their second region win of the season following a 32-13 win over cross-county rival Highland Home.

Luverne Head Coach Mike DuBose made light of the whole situation.

"We're going to turn the lights on Thursday and leave them on," DuBose said. "That's ridiculous two home games in a row. It affects you. Who does it affect more? I don't know because both teams go through the same thing. You get ready to play and your mindset is to play at a certain time and then all of a sudden you've got a delay of 30 or 40 minutes. That is not supposed to happen."

As for his team's performance, Dubose believes Highland Home did a superb job on the field and feels fortunate his team came away the victor.

"We had a good plan," DuBose said. "I thought Bob David did a nice job with their offensive game plan going into it. They were a little bit more conservative and played to their defense. We really hadn't anticipated quite as much two back, but that's what we got from them and that took out about 3/4 of what we were going to do against their spread stuff. You have to give them credit for that, they had a nice game plan for us and they executed it.

"The other thing that I thought was obvious was we made some big plays, but I felt like overall Highland Home out hit us and out hustled us. They gave more effort and they had a better plan, they out coached us as well. I feel like we were fortunate to win, but I'm tickled to death they found a way to win."

After being forced punt on its first drive, the Flying Squadron (1-2, 1-1) retook possession of the pigskin on its own 3-yard-line ending a Tiger scoring threat. Highland Home was forced to punt on its following drive, but Luverne's return man fumbled the kick and Squadron senior Tony Merriweather pounced on the ball to regain possession once again.

Despite two penalties that backed Highland Home up 15 yards, freshman quarterback Deymond Sankey was able to bounce back and connect with O.D. Bryant on a 54-yard touchdown strike to put the visitors up 6-0. Keith Dawkins' point after kick was good giving the Squadron an early 7-0 lead.

Most of the second quarter was uneventful until Luverne finally put some points on the scoreboard when senior Pat Parks hauled in junior quarterback Ryan Brown's 34-yard pass with 2:50 remaining in the half. Daniel Brown's PAT split the uprights tying the game 7-7.

The Tigers' defense forced a three and out on the Squadrons' ensuing drive and quickly drove down the field with quick passes. Luverne settled for a 19-yard, Daniel Brown field goal to take a 10-7 lead at the half.

Luverne came out strong in the second half scoring on its second drive when Daniel Brown split the uprights with a 27-yard field goal. Two possessions later, junior Jesse Dixon bulled his way in from three yards out to pad the Tigers' lead, 19-7. The two-point conversion was no good.

The Squadron fumbled the ensuing kickoff, which was scooped up by Luverne senior Bryce Dixon. The Tigers scored once again on the first play from scrimmage following the turnover when sophomore Fred Hawkins danced his way into the end zone from 35 yards out. The PAT was no good, but the home team had a commanding 25-7 lead.

Two plays later, Luverne scored its last touchdown of the game when Jesse Dixon picked off Sankey's pass and sped 26 yards for the score. Highland Home answered back with a quick, seven-play series, which was capped off with a 5-yard reception for a touchdown by eighth grader Derrick Dulaney.

"I thought we played extremely well," HHHS Head Coach Bob Farrior said. "We're a real young football team and at the end of the game we were playing with three ninth graders and a bunch of tenth graders. I think they proved themselves to be a force to be reckoned with in the future. They're a good bunch of boys and I love them a lot. They work their tails off."

The Squadron has 22 freshmen, six sophomores, six juniors and eight seniors on roster.

Luverne finished the evening with 320 yards of total offense including 208 yards on the ground and 112 through the air. Hawkins led the Tigers with 149 yards rushing and a touchdown and Ryan Brown completed 9 of 19 passes for 112 yards and a touchdown.

Senior Mike Jones led Luverne's defense with an interception and a fumble recovery. Merriweather had two fumble recoveries to lead the Squadron's "D".

"We won on some individual efforts, but we still haven't come together as a team," DuBose said. "There's too much individualism and too many individual agendas. It's about 'me' too much right now. We're a long away from being a football team. In fairness to this year's football team, it was eight or nine games last year before we really came together."

Luverne will hit the road tomorrow night as they travel to take on Horseshoe Bend in a regional contest. Highland Home will host B.B. Comer. Both games will begin at 7 p.m.