Football: Tartan tops Mahtomedi in OT; Hill-Murray routs St. Louis Park; South St. Paul rolls over North

Tartan 23 - Mahtomedi 20
In a game that had more unlikely scenarios than a deadlocked Congress, the Tartan Titans rebounded from a 21-41 loss at the hands of the South St. Paul Packers a week ago, and put a hurt on the Mahtomedi Zephyrs Oct. 4.

In an unlikely and what had to be thought by many to be a huge Classic Suburban Conference (CSC) upset, the Tartan Titans went into a disheartening overtime session, and went on to post a 23-20 victory.

The win over Mahtomedi was the first time in 12 years that Tartan head coach Aaron Mullen tasted victory over the CSC powerhouse.

“It feels really good,” said the exuberant coach.

“Our kids deserve a lot of credit. They could have given up on several occasions. They just continued to fight. There was no quit in them.

“We battled hard and mentally kept in the game,” Mullen said. “(Mahtomedi) went down the field and scored on their first possession. We made some adjustments and gave them several different defensive looks. I think we kept them off balance.

“We just did not give up. These kids stuck to it and went at it until the very end. That’s the first time in 12 years. It really feels good!”

Mullen was talking about his tenure with the team. Up until this season, he has been an assistant coach.

Mahtomedi coach Dave Muetzel gathered his sullen crew at the south end of the field and told them, “Give them (the Titans) credit. They did not quit.

“But we have to do some thinking about this game. We did some good things; we made some big plays. But in the end they got the better end of it. We have a lot of guys who had better look at themselves in the mirror after this game. This was not acceptable.”

In the 10 years - there were two years they did not play one another - Mahtomedi won each year. In those 10 years, the Zephyrs outscored the Titans 337-158.

But the memories of losing to the Zephyrs were pushed into the past Friday night. The heavy mist that pervaded most of the game did little to dampen the spirits of the wildly cheering fans on both sides of Tartan Stadium.

Consider that it appeared the Titans should have won in regulation. The Titans defense had stopped a Mahtomedi drive, and they took over on their own 31-yard line with 2:18 remaining. Mahtomedi had used all of its time outs.

The Titans were leading 20-13, ran three plays and lined up to punt. Mahtomedi’s Matt Filla broke through the line and smothered the punt to give the Zephrys the ball on the Tartan 21 with just 39 seconds left to go.

A running play netted the Zephyrs 5 yards but took precious time off the clock. Another run brought the ball to the 6-yard line. A pass into the end zone was incomplete and stopped the clock. Then, with just 03.5 showing on the clock, a pass - Colin Baumgard to Jack Butterwood - put the ball into the Tartan end zone. The point after boot by Derek Johnson was good and suddenly the stunned Tartan fans were silenced as the score was knotted at 20-20 and overtime was imminent.

A long discussion followed, a coin was flipped and the teams lined up at the 10-yard line to begin the overtime session.

Tartan had first possession. A couple of runs were stopped. A 5-yard penalty was assessed. An incomplete pass left the Titans with fourth down and nothing to show for their efforts.

In came Erik Eastwood to attempt a 30-yard field goal. The ball was placed at the right hash mark. The boot was up and sailed through the uprights to give Tartan a tenuous 3-point, 23-20 margin.

Next, Mahtomedi began at the 10-yard line. A run netted a yard. A pass was low and incomplete in the end zone. Tartan called time out.

With 9 yards remaining, a pass into the right side was cut off and intercepted by Tartan defender, senior free safety Samonty Ouk-Theng.

The long drought for Tartan was ended as the players and fans wildly celebrated the 23-10 triumph over Mahtomedi.

The crowd that left the stadium had little care for the previous 47-plus minutes it had taken for the teams to reach the overtime point in the contest.

But for the record, Mahtomedi took its opening possession - 45 yards in eight plays - in for a score. The point after kick sailed wide and with 6:27 remaining in the first quarter it was 6-0 Mahtomedi.

In the second quarter Tartan quarterback Tim McCarthy hit Kieran Johnson on a 20-yard aerial into pay dirt. Eastwood made good on the PAT and Tartan led 7-6 at halftime.

The Tartan defense was playing with a zest, while the Zephyrs were becoming increasingly frustrated.

Next, the Titans went 78 yards in 11 plays - eight passes - and overcame a 15-yard penalty, that was culminated when Eli McGeehan crashed in from 2 yards out. The PAT missed, but with 3:16 left to go in the third quarter Tartan was on top 13-6.

The lead didn’t last. Mahtomedi took the ensuing kickoff and marched up field. Then, on a play-action fake to a run, Baumgard unleashed a pass to a wide open Joe Forcia racing down the left sideline for a touchdown. With just 23 seconds left in the third quarter it was 13-13.

Once more the resilient Titans came back. An 11-play, 59-yard drive ended with McCarthy going the final 2 yards on a quarterback-keeper. With 6:59 left, Tartan moved to a 20-13 lead and set the stage for the last-minute antics the led to the Tartan overtime, exciting victory.

In the game Tartan running back Keenen Bellaphant toted the ball 23 times and picked up 75 yards for a per carry average of 3.2. 

Tartan quarterback McCarthy hit on 11 of 26 - at least a half dozen were dropped - for 152 yards, for a per-catch average of 13.8.

South St. Paul 54 - North 26

For the second consecutive week the South St. Paul Packers put their powerful football prowess up against a School District 622 team. For the second consecutive week, the District 622 foe succumbed to the punishing play of the Packers.

A week ago it was Tartan, which lost 33-12. On Oct. 4, the Packers came to North St. Paul and stopped the Polars by a 28-point margin.

On their first possession South St. Paul went 58 yards on 15 plays for a score when Max Oelerking crashed in from 2-yards out. Nick Ricci booted the PAT and with 3:48 remaining in the first quarter the Packers were on top 7-0.

Again the Packers defense held the Polars and after a muffed punt they began at the North 33.

This time it took the juggernaut just five plays to negotiate the 33 yards. Marco Freeman broke free for the final 26 yards for six points. Ricci was good on the PAT, and the Packers led 14-0.

As the second quarter got underway, the Polars put together a 13-play, 62-yard drive that ended up in the South St. Paul end zone. A pass for a two-point conversion fell incomplete, but North was on the board 6-14.

The ensuing kickoff resulted in an 86-yard return by Marco Freeman as South St. Paul got the six points back in a hurry. The PAT went wide right but now South St. Paul led 20-6.

The Polars went three-and-out on the next series, and South St. Paul began a drive that went 89-yards in 11-plays and ended when Bill Brandecker plowed in from the 1-yard line. Ricci’s boot made it 27-6 with 4:32 remaining in the first half.

The Polars were moving the ball when the drive was interrupted by South St. Paul’s Nick Jeroff intercepting a pass and ran it back 42 yards to the North 33-yard line.

From there it took three plays before a 20-yard pass - Brandecker to Ontario Jackson - ended up in the North zone. The PAT missed but the score had moved to 33-6 at halftime.

South St. Paul took the opening kickoff and moved 54 yards in eight plays. Marco Freeman finished the drive when he went 12 yards around the right side to score. Ricci threw a pass to Jackson for a two-point conversion and South St. Paul moved the count to 41-6,

The teams exchanged the ball and North took over at the South St. Paul 46 when Nick Quist fell on a Packers fumble.

From there it took eight plays before Akeem Sirleaf plunged into pay dirt from 1 yard out. The pass for a two-point conversion failed and South St. Paul led by 41-12.

On the third play following the kickoff, Anthony Perez sailed around the left side for 40 yards to the North 1. From there it took one play - a rush by Brendan Shaley - to score. Ricci’s kick was good and the South St. Paul lead increased to 48-12.

Play moved into the fourth quarter when a South St. Paul drive was interrupted by a fumble.

North’s Isaiah Koran picked up the loose ball and raced 51 yards to pay dirt. A run for two points was stopped and the score stood at 48-18.

A North attempt on fourth down failed and South St. Paul took over at the Polars 29.  From there it took four plays before Andreas Martinez went 5 yards up the middle to score. A run for two points failed but South St. Paul had pushed its lead to 54-18.

North took the kickoff and began at its 20. It took six plays - a couple of passes 36 yards Kyle Christopher to Koran and James Bothwell to Bram Minser - for North to put six points on the scoreboard. Bothwell ran for the two-point conversion and the final points were posted in the 54-26 South St. Paul win.

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