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Tigers' season comes to an end

 

HAMMOND — St. Croix Central ended the Northwestern Tigers’ football season Friday with a 35-20 win on a cool night on the Panthers gridiron.

The Panthers (7-3) avoided mistakes and used a strong ground game to control the ball against the Tigers to advance a WIAA Division 4 Level 2 playoff game against No. 1 Osceola, which advanced with a 28-14 win over Altoona.

The Tigers’ season ends with a 7-3 record.

St. Croix Central took the opening kickoff Friday and mounted a 14-play, 65-yard drive that culminated in a Ryan Larson 2-yard touchdown dive on fourth-and-goal. Larson’s kick made it 7-0.

With 6:02 remaining in the second quarter, Panther quarterback Collin Nelson kept the ball on the option and raced 40 yards to pay dirt and it was 14-0.

The Tigers got the ball back on the 30-yard line and began a 70-yard march to the goal line. Quarterback Jared Anttila led the Tigers on the drive, but with the time running out and Northwestern at the Panther 3-yard line Anttila was injured.

Reserve quarterback Kade Bartelt came in and on the first play took it in behind the blocking of right tackle Alex Tecker. Freshman Isaac Nichols made it 14-7 with the PAT and with only 24 second left in the first half.

Failing to gain a first down on the first series of the second half, a short Tiger punt gave SCC great field possession on the 34-yard line.

Nelson then scored his second TD with a 3-yard run to make the score 21-7 midway through the third quarter.

On the next play from scrimmage, with the ball on the 20, Bartelt threw a perfect pass that Tyler Little hauled in at midfield and outraced his defender to the end zone. The extra point failed to leave it at 21-13.

After stopping the Panthers, Northwestern got the ball back but then coughed it up with a fumble, again giving the Panthers great field possession at the 23.

The short drive ended with Nelson getting his third TD and giving the Panthers a 28-13 lead.

When the Panthers got the ball back in the fourth quarter, they mounted a long, time-consuming drive that ate up the clock and ended with Nelson throwing a 20-yard touchdown pass to his brother, Trevor Nelson, essentially sealing the victory.

The Tigers did not give up, however, and with 1:22 left Matt Lindsay, filling in for the injured Kade Bartelt, found Tanner Klobucher in the end zone. The diving catch by Klobucher resulted in another Northwestern score, and Nichols’ PAT made it 35-20.

Senior Jameson Plug led the Tigers with 78 yards rushing. Anttila had 70 first half yards on the ground before his injury. Reagan Ruffi added 26 yards, and Bartelt had 8.

Anttila, Bartelt and Lindsay combined to go 4-of-12 passing. Klobucher caught two passes for 40 yards.

Defensively, Bartelt was in on 13 tackles to lead Northwestern.

Ryan Larson gained 97 yards for St. Croix Central and Alec Fischer had 89. Nelson had 79 yards and three touchdowns. Collin Nelson threw for 44 yards on four completions. Defensively, Cole Refsnider, a Division one prospect, led the Panthers with eight tackles.

“I was proud of our kids,” NHS coach David Crail said. “They never gave up and played hard right to the end.”

Tiger seniors who have completed their football career include Carter Spangenberg, Anttila, Pflug, Tanner and Isaac Klobucher, Tyler Little, Alex Tecker, Mike Lindsay, Matthew Lindsay, Kenny Dunny, Hunter Wiese, Conner Johnson, Conner Wheeler, Ryan Huray, Ricky Schiff, Travis Lewis and Michael Lewis.

“These guys have worked so hard and we will miss them, but that is part of the process of high school football,” Crail said. “They were a great group.”

TIGER TALES: Northwestern played without injured running back/linebacker Carter Spangenberg, the Tigers’ leading rusher on the season. … The Tigers’ season included a 7-3 record and a piece of their second straight Heart O’ North Conference championship. … The HON title gives the Tigers 13 in the last 30 years. (11 came in the HON and the other two came in the ill-fated Northwesterm Football League). … The Tigers will return only four regulars on offense next year and two on defense.

Northwestern.................... 0     7     6     7      —    20

St. Croix Central.................. 7     7     14   7      —    35

First Quarter

SCC — Ryan Larson 2-yard run (Jasyn Bachtell kick).

Second Quarter

SCC — Collin Nelson 40-yard run (Bachtell kick).

N — Kade Bartelt 2-yard run (Isaac Nichols kick).

Third Quarter

SCC — C. Nelson 3-yard run (Bachtell kick).

N — Tyler Little 80-yard pass from Bartelt (kick failed).

SCC — C. Nelson 12-yard run (Bachtell kick).

Fourth Quarter

SCC — Trevor Nelson 20-yard pass from C. Nelson (Bachtell kick).

N — Tanner Blobucher 25-yard pass from Matt Lindsay (Nichols kick).

TEAM STATISTICS

                                              N            SCC

First downs............................. 11             23

Rushing yards......................... 182           304

Completions-attempts.............. 4-12           3-6

Passing yards......................... 125            38

TDs-interceptions..................... 2-0            1-0

Total plays.............................. 44             62

Total offense........................... 307           342

Fumbles-lost........................... 1-1            0-0

Penalties-yards....................... 3-18          3-18

Sacks-yards lost..................... 1-3.0          0-0

Time of poss......................... 17:58         30:02

Punts-average                3-25.3    1-24

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