HARRISBURG – If a handful of plays decide games, Brandon Valley knows exactly which to point to after dispatching ESD rival Harrisburg 30-6 on Friday.
There were the two early scoring plays, a two-yard plunge from Tyler Hintz and a six-yard sideline reception by Zach Scholten, which gave Brandon a 14-0 first quarter lead. Then came a second-quarter goal line stand to hold the Tigers scoreless. Later, a fumble recovery before halftime set up a 37-yard Drew Jurgens field goal to distance the lead to 17-6.
A defensive theme had emerged.
The game’s deciding play came late in the third quarter, with the homecoming Tigers on the march. Brandon Valley (3-2) dropped into zone coverage as linebacker Andrew Sorensen burst through the line to pressure Harrisburg quarterback Kain Kittelson, who heaved a desperation attempt across the field to his left. Lynx defensive back Chase Grode high-pointed the ball for the interception and cut back toward the left sideline with several lead blockers paving the way ahead.
Seventy-two yards later, Grode found pay dirt, and with it, a 30-6 lead for the Lynx.
“Those guys do that drill and practice that drill a lot,” said Brandon coach Chad Garrow of his team’s blocking after the Grode pick. “Our defense did a great job in the second half of creating some things and getting some big plays.”
The Lynx’s final 16 points were all set up by Harrisburg turnovers, including a third-quarter rushing touchdown, Hintz’s second of the game, which came just plays after the Tigers coughed it up in Brandon territory.
“I think the biggest play was the fumble in the second half,” said Harrisburg coach Brandon White. “We were just driving. We kind of had them on their heels a little bit. Just had one bad snap and it causes a fumble and they turn it into points right away.”
Harrisburg did some good things — including a pair of defensive stops in the second quarter to set up a scoring chance, as well as the lone touchdown, an electrifying 49-yard run by receiver Paul Paul on an end around to the right. But where the Tigers took one step forward, players like Brandon linebacker Andrew Sorensen were there to push them two steps back.
In addition to his pressure on the crucial interception, Sorensen led the Lynx with timely stops to finish with 10 tackles and two sacks. His first sack came with the Tigers facing second and goal from the Lynx 5-yard line. Sorensen anticipated the snap and blew through the line to force an 8-yard loss. The Tigers went from knocking to 13 yards out, and when the fourth down trick call failed — Kittelson appeared to walk toward the sideline as the Tigers used a direct snap to Jacob Klemme — Sorensen’s sack two plays prior loomed large on the possession.
“When you let him play and fly around he can really make some plays,” Garrow. “I love having him in our backfield, too, to play some fullback. He’s a great leader by just how hard he goes.”
Lynx quarterback Alex Waltner turned in an efficient effort, going 11 of 14 passing for 217 yards. Waltner often connected with Grode (five catches, 86 yards), and used some improvisation on a scramble to the sideline. With the ball at midfield, Waltner was flushed to his right and re-directed Grode, who was near the sideline, to take his route vertically. They connected for a 33-yard gain, and Hintz scored on the next play from 17 yards out, cutting from left to right across the hashmarks.
“For [Alex] to direct Chase to go deep and hit him there was nicely done,” Garrow said.
The Tigers accounted for 173 of their 234 total yards on the ground, but averaged just 3.0 yards a carry outside of Paul’s 49-yard touchdown. Harrisburg used a committee approach, led by Dylan Tams with 11 carries for 37 yards.
Brandon Valley 14 3 6 7 — 30
Harrisburg 0 6 0 0 — 6
BV — Tyler Hintz 2 run (Drew Jurgens kick)
BV — Zach Scholten 6 pass from Alex Waltner (Jurgens kick)
HAR — Paul Paul 49 run (Jackson White kick misses)
BV — Jurgens 37 FG
BV — Hintz 17 run (Jurgens kick misses)
BV — Chase Grode 72 interception return (Jurgens kick)
First downs 12 17
Rushes-Yards 29-94 42-173
Comp-Att-Int-Yds 11-14-0-217 7-14-2-61
Total Yards 311 234
Fumbles/Lost 1/1 3/2
Penalties 5/50 4/36
RUSHING: Brandon Valley – Tyler Hintz 11-48, Alex Wickersham 7-29, Andrew Sorenson 4-9, Alex Waltner 3-7, Riley Bennett 1-7, Drew Jurgens 1-1; Harrisburg – Kain Kittelson 12-7, Dylan Tams 11-37, Jacob Klemme 6-17, Jack Anderson 4-17, Paul Paul 2-46, Brody Mouw 2-19, Hunter Headlee 1-14, Justin Winters 1-11.
PASSING: BV – Waltner 11-14-0-217; Harrisburg – Kittelson 6-13-2-59, H. Headlee 1-1-0-2.
RECEIVING: BV – Chase Grode 5-86, Spencer Grage 2-15, Isaiah Blok 1-41, Andrew Sorensen 1-36, Wickersham 1-33, Scholten 1-6; Harrisburg – Mouw 3-33, Klemme 2-24, Anderson 1-2, Lucas Koolstra 1-2. xx