Late-game touchdown gives Titans big win against O’Gorman

By Anne Homan,

Sports Reporter


Nathan Babb pushes forward for extra yardage against the Knights last Friday night in Tea.


In dramatic fashion, the Tea Area High School football team defeated Class AAA Sioux Falls O’Gorman Knights 44-41 on the Titans Field last Friday, Sept. 9.


The Titans trailed 41-37 in the final minutes as O’Gorman managed to score with just over two minutes left in the game. However, the Titans needed no time at all to get their touchdown and take the lead and grab the eventual win.


Chase VanTol threw a long one down the field to a lone Titan, Ethan McKnelly, who was surrounded by three O’Gorman defenders. After deflecting off of the defender’s hand, McKnelly was able to grab the ball and run it in for the 80-yard score. VanTol’s point-after sealed the big win for the Class AA Titans.


The game opened up with the Knights scoring on a 12-yard passing touchdown. The Titans answered with a Blake Thompson 58-yard touchdown run. Tea Area attempted the two-point conversion but it failed.


The Knights scored twice more in the opening quarter to lead 20-6 heading into the second quarter.

Tea Area got things going as Maddix Slykhuis found Nathan Babb for the 16-yard touchdown. VanTol kicked through the extra point, to pull the Titans within eight at the half.


In the third quarter, the Titans managed to pull within one as Thompson ran it in from 17 yards out for his second rushing touchdown of the night. VanTol kicked through the extra point, giving Tea Area 19.


O’Gorman managed to answer back taking the 27-19 lead. The back-and-forth battle continued at the Titans scored again with VanTol running it in from four yards out. He kicked through the extra point, making the score 27-26 with just seconds left in the quarter.


O’Gorman heaved it downfield and managed to score an 85-yard touchdown before quarter’s end to give them the 34-26 lead heading into the final quarter.


In the fourth, the Titans recorded a safety. The Titans managed to get a touchdown on the next possession as Slykhuis took the carry four yards for the score. VanTol’s point after gave the Titans their first lead of the game, 35-34.


After blocking O’Gorman’s punt on their next possession, the Titans recorded another safety to end their lead. However, with just 2:18 on the clock, O’Gorman scored a 26-yard touchdown to regain the lead, 41-37.


Then the play of the game happened and McKnelly’s 80-yard score gave the Titans their third straight win of the season, taking the 44-41 victory over O’Gorman.


The Titans finished the game with 433 yards of offense, gaining 300 on the ground in the rain-filled game. They had 133 passing yards. O’Gorman finished with 532 yards of offense, gaining 468 in the air and only 64 rushing yards.


Leading the ground attack for Tea Area was Thompson who finished the night with 155 yards on nine carries. VanTol finished with 120 yards on 13 carries and Keegan DeYoung had 32 yards on seven carries.


In the air, Slykhuis completed six of nine passes for 53 yards. VanTol had one lone pass for 80 yards.


Babb had two grabs for 21 yards, VanTol two catches for 14, McKnelly one for 80, and Thompson one for 18.


Defensively Thompson had two interceptions in the game. He also had six tackles. Nike Rosas and Reis Kirschenman each recorded sacks. Jackson Smythe led the team in tackles with nine in the game. Jensen Wiebenga had eight, VanTol also had eight and Babb finished with six. Sam Werdel had five and Ethan Vis four in the game.


The Titans head west this Friday, Sept. 16 when they take on Douglas at Douglas High School. Kick-off is set for 6 p.m. Mountain Time.