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Tigers win playoff opener

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Fourth-seeded Pine River-Backus Tigers defeated the visiting No. 5 Prairie Valley Nighthawks 36-24 on a cool and snowy night in the Section 6A quarterfinals on Tuesday, Oct. 22.

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The Nighthawks received the opening kickoff and did nothing with their first drive as it ended in a three-and-out punt situation. The Tigers began from their 18-yard line Jared Adkins took a dive left for three yards then Zach Struss hit Triston Rubner on a screen pass for nine yards and a first down on the Tigers’ 30. Adkins powered off the left side for a 13-yard gain. Runs by Travon Pederson, Rubner and Adkins put the ball at the Nighthawks’ 41.That was when Struss connected with Shane Fleming for a 41-yard touchdown with 6:37 remaining in the first quarter Struss passed to Brandon Mager for the two-point conversion to make it 8-0.

Prairie Valley turned the ball over on downs on their next possession at the PR-B 40. Struss hit Nick Gravdahl for a 15-yard gain. Adkins provided the next big play as he took the handoff up the middle and rumbled 16 yards to the Nighthawks’ 15. The quarter ended with the Tigers deep in enemy territory. On fourth down from the Prairie Valley 11, Struss connected with Mager for a 11-yard touchdown with 11:14 to go in the second period. Jared Adkins added the two-point conversion to make it 16-0.

Prairie Valley began there next drive at its 31. Skyler Meiners hit Quentin Uran on a screen pass for nine yards moving the ball to their 40. On second down from their 40, Meiners delivered a strike to Dominick Bailey for six yards. On the next play Meiners and Grant Yohnke connected on a 54-yard touchdown pass with 7:58 to go in the opening half. The two-point conversion failed but the Nighthawks cut the deficit to 16-6.

A nice return on the ensuing kickoff gave the ball to the Tigers at the Prairie Valley 41. Pederson went on a nine-yard scamper. On the next play, Struss connected with Nick Gravdahl for 22 yards go the 10. Two plays later Rubner plunged into the end zone from three yards out with 6:32 to go give the Tigers the 22-6 lead.

On their next drive the Nighthawks were looking for some way to answer, and they found a new weapon in the running game as Kyle Schlosser came on and had runs of 13, 4, 9 and 11 yards. With the ball at the Tigers’ 12. Mieners and Bailey again connected on a second touchdown of the game with 3:01 left in the half to make it 22-12.

Struss and the Tigers came back to begin there next drive, but it didn’t last long as Struss was intercepted three plays into the drive. With the Nighthawks starting with a short field at the Tiger 45 it seemed like there would be a momentum switch, but the Tigers stalled the drive at the PR-B 23. Struss went on a quarterback keeper for 12 yards to their 35, but on his next play he would be intercepted to end the half.

PR-B began its first drive of the second half at midfield. On the first play, Pederson went on a sweep right for 26 yards to put the ball at the Prairie Valley 24. Something unusual happened with 11:14 left in the third quarter as the scoreboard lost power, and the teams and fans needed to listen to the announcer for updates on the game time and yardage situations. Jared Adkins would power in to the end zone from six yards out with 9:10 to go in the third. Struss passed to Mager for the two-point conversion and it was 30-12.

On the Nighthawks’ second possession of the third quarter, they went on their longest drive of the game as they ate up the remaining time in the period. Just a few seconds into the fourth quarter, Miener and Bailey again connected on a three-yard scoring pass with 11:10 left to make it 30-18.

The Tigers began at their 39 on the first possession of the fourth quarter and drove all the way to the Nighthawks’ 2, but Adkins would fumble and give Prairie Valley the ball. The Nighthawks eventually turned the ball over on downs. Struss ended the Tigers’ next drive with a three-yard touchdown with 1:00 left making it 36-18. The Nighthawks’ last attempt to make it a game did end with a touchdown as time expired to make the final 36-24.

Adkins rushed for 126 yards while Struss passed for 127 yards and two scores.

Prairie Valley 0 12 0 12 — 24

PR-Backus 8 14 8 6 — 36

First quarter

PRB-Shane Fleming 41 pass from Zach Struss (Brandon Mager pass from Struss) 6:37

Second quarter

PRB-Mager 10 pass from Struss (Jared Adkins run) 11:14

PV-Grant Yohnke 54 pass from Skyler Meiners (PAT fail) 7:58

PRB-Triston Rubner 3 run (PAT fail) 6:32

PV-Yohnke 10 pass from Meiners (PAT fail) 3:01

Third quarter

PRB-Adkins 8 run (Mager pass from Struss) 9:10

Fourth quarter

PV-Dominick Bailey 4 pass from Meiners (PAT fail) 11:10

PRB-Struss 2 run (PAT fail) 1:00

PV-Derek Pratt 19 pass from Meiners :00

Team statistics:

Rushes-yards: PRB 43-225, PV 40-186

Pass comp-att-int-yds: PRB 8-11-2-127, PV 12-25-0-135

Total offense: PRB 352, PV 321

Individual leaders

Rushing: PRB-Adkins 21-126, Travon Pederson 11-60

Passing: PRB-Struss 8-11-2-127

Receiving: PRB-Rubner 2-26, Fleming 1-41, Mager 2-23, Nick Gravdahl 2-37

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