Football: Tartan tops North, Hill-Murray runs roughshod over Richfield

Wally Wakefield
Review staff

The regular football season wrapped up Oct. 16 with the North Polars traveling to Titanville and dropping a 40-21 decision to archrival Tartan.

The Hill-Murray Pioneers ended the season on a winning note by running away from Richfield to the tune of a 48-7 romp.

Tartan 40 — North 21

As is the case in any matchup between North and Tartan, one can disregard any stats, previous win-loss records and tips you might hear on the way to the game. Only the game at hand will tell the tale.

Overall net yards showed the Titans outdoing North 295-221. In first downs, the Titans owned a 15-11 margin and in time of possession they had a 25:35 to 22:25 leeway. But the numbers don’t show the Polar passion that actually brought the teams much closer than the stats show.

Leading the way for Tartan with 111 yards on16 carries, 6.9 yards per carry and two TDs was Keenan Bellaphant.

North workhorses were Confidence Kpegeol with 24 carries and 62 net yards and one TD. Also toting the ball for North was Akeem Sirleaf who had 12 carries for 27 net yards. Isaiah Koran picked up 24 yards and one TD on nine rushes.

The Polars took the opening kickoff, picked up a first down and then punted.

Tartan took over at their 10-yard line. On the second play, a pass was picked off by North junior defensive back Joe Scull.

The turnover gave the Polars the ball at the Tartan 15-yard line, and they hung on. Seven plays later, Koran slammed into the Tartan zone from one yard out. Adam Hildebrandt booted the point after and 5:10 into the contest, North led 7-0.

On the ensuing kickoff, Chris Graves gathered in the pigskin and took off. He galloped 65 yards before he was pulled down at the North 15.

It took five plays before Graves crashed in from one yard. Erik Eastwood booted the PAT and just under two minutes after the North tally, the score was 7-7.

Tartan kicked off and North began at their 22-yard line. Soon it was the North fans who were screaming as quarterback James Bothwell lofted an aerial to Bram Minser that covered 78 yards into the Titans’ end zone.

Hildebrandt made the point after and just 18 seconds later North was back on top 14-7.

Tartan took the kickoff and from their own 45 persevered for seven plays. Deonte’ Fourte-Nelson rushed for 28 yards on the drive to carry it over the line. Eastwood booted the PAT and the score moved to 14-14.

Play moved into the second quarter and the ball exchanged hands a few times before Tartan took over at the North 30.

Five plays later, an 18-yard pass — Tim McCarthy to Triston Richert — was pulled down in the North end zone and with the PAT boot by Eastwood, Tartan took the 21-14 margin into intermission.

Tartan began the second half with their regulars returning to the backfield. The Titans took the opening kickoff and began at their 38.

Eight plays and 62-yards later, Bellaphant — who carried the ball six times on the drive — went in from one yard out. On the point after, North broke through to block the kick, but Tartan was on top by 27-14.

The Polars’ Koran returned the ensuing kickoff 31 yards to the North 46. From there the Polars drove the 54-yards in 12 plays. The final 10 yards was negotiated by Kpegeol. Hildebrandt made the PAT and North was within six points at 27-21.

A short kickoff was returned nine yards to the Tartan 49. From there it took just three plays — a Bellaphant 28-yard rush and a 20-yard pass, McCarthy to Richert for the TD — and 1:26, for Tartan to move the count to 33-21.

Play moved into the fourth quarter with North down by 12. Then came the coup de grace for North.

On fourth and 16 to go, the Titans lined up for a punt. Instead, the snap went to Bellaphant who raced around the right side 45 yards for a score. With just 1:10 remaining, Eastwood booted the PAT and the final in the 40-21 Tartan triumph was posted.

The victory moved Tartan to 6-1 in the Classic Suburban Conference, along with the St.Thomas and South St. Paul for a three-way tie for first place.

Hill-Murray 48 — Richfield 7  

The Hill-Murray Pioneers played host to the Richfield Spartans and saw the visitors live up to their name when it came to scoring points.

Not until the fourth quarter, after the Pioneers had delighted their fans with 48 points on the scoreboard, did the Hill-Murray defense allow the Spartans into their end zone.

Three first-quarter scores by the Pioneers set the stage for the second session when Hill-Murray added 26 points. In the third quarter, a lone field goal was all the Pioneers needed for the 48-point total on the board.

Dusty Krueger opened the scoring with a 13-yard TD dash.

Next, it was Joe Swanson who pulled down an 11-yard aerial from Nick Engels. The point after was added off the toe of Brennan LaFeber and Hill-Murray was up by 13-0.

Still in the first 12 minutes of action, Marshawn Wilson plowed his way two yards for a score and the Pioneers were up by 19-0 as play headed into the second quarter.

Early on in the second stanza, Krueger broke free, eluded a tackler or two in the secondary and sped 55 yards for his second 6 points. LaFeber added the PAT that pushed the count to 26-0.  

On their next possession, Wilson almost duplicated the Krueger dash when he broke free and romped 41 yards for a TD. Again, LaFeber was true and Hill-Murray pushed the total to 33-0.

The Hill-Murray defense held once more. A Richfield punt was gathered in by Sam Westby at the Spartans’ 48. A couple of blocks and a quick sprint resulted in a 48-yard punt return to pay dirt that pushed the Hill-Murray lead to 39-0.

Still in the first half of play, Charlie Hilger pulled down an 11-yard pass from Engels and the teams broke for the halftime intermission with Hill-Murray owning a 45-0 margin.

Action slowed down in the second half of play. When a Hill-Murray drive bogged down at the Richfield 23, LaFeber came on and booted a 40-yard, 3-point field goal that pushed the Pioneers’ total to 48-0.

In the final 12 minutes of play, the Spartans finally found the key to scoring and put a TD and PAT on the board for the final points in the Hill-Murray victory.

Play resumed in the sectional playoffs Oct. 22.

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