Tigers win opener at Ashland (updated)
NOTE: This story will be updated.
For The Telegram
ASHLAND — The Northwestern High School football team opened the season with a 14-8 win at Ashland Friday night.
Andrew Hanson scored all 14 of Northwestern’s points on its first two possessions of the game.
Hanson’s 5-yard touchdown run came on the Tigers’ first drive, which started on their own 26-yard line. An extra-point kick attempt went amok and the Tigers attempted to pass for two points, to no avail.
Hanson’s second score came from 8 yards out with 3:32 left in the first quarter. Hanson also ran in for the two-point conversion and to make it 14-0.
Ashland’s next drive was halted with a Reagen Ruffi interception of a tipped pass. The Tigers returned the favor, as a Kade Bartelt pass was picked off by Cody Joanis.
This time the Oredockers turned the gift into points as Jordan Brennan took a quarterback keeper around the left end for a 25 yard touchdown. Zach Coffland ran in the two-point conversion and it was 14-8 with 8:45 to go in the half.
As the Tigers began to roll, another turnover, this time a fumble, gave the ball back to Ashland and the Oredockers threatened to score more points until Brody Payton intercepted a pass for the Tigers with 44 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
The second half had a lot of action, but no scoring.
Ashland’s defense put the clamps on Hanson and Northwestern turned to Reagen Ruffi for yardage on the ground.
The game remained close until late in the fourth when Ashland mounted a good drive.
Behind Brennan, Ashland moved to the 11-yard line and had third down, but a sweep play was foiled when Tiger safety Keegan Plasch smelled out the play and tackled the quarterback for a big loss with 3:30 remaining.
That made it fourth and long and a pass into the end zone was incomplete.
Northwestern went on to run out the clock, thanks to key back-to-back first downs that had to be measured. On the second one, Plasch got his first carry of the night and went six yards to just make the down marker.
Plasch had another good run, this one of 12 yards, as the Tigers ran out the clock.
Coach Jovin Kroll was very happy after the game.
“I was nervous, but am very happy our guys held on for a win against a very well coached Ashland team,” Kroll said. “It’s good to get that first win. We got a lot of players in the game and came out without any major injuries. The small aches and pains always feel better when you win.”
Northwestern finished with 217 yards of offense, all on the ground, led by Hanson with 102 yards and Ruffi with 82.
Ashland had 190 yards of offense, with Justin Miller leading in rushing with 59 yards. Ethan Brown caught a pass for 46 yards.
Defensively the Tigers were led by Tyler Ronning and Alex Isakson with nine tackles each. Kade Bartelt and Gervase Thompson IV were in on eight each, and sophomore Jager Stillson was in on seven tackles.
Northwestern hosts Osceola, ranked No. 1 in Division 4 in one preseason Poll, at 7 p.m. Friday at Gordon L. Nelson Athletic Complex.
Northwestern........................ 14 0 0 0 — 14
Ashland..................................... 0 8 0 0 — 8
N — Andrew Hanson, 5-yard run (run failed), 8:57.
N — Hanson 8-yard run (Hanson run), 3:32.
A — Jordan Brennan 25-yard run (Zachery Coffland), 8:45.