The Indians propelled themselves behind a strong running game from seniors Jacob Berg and Landon Strong in their 27-7 victory over the Wabasso Rabbits.
Coming into Friday night’s game, the Indians have had a few tough luck losses the past couple of weeks. Jacob Berg said it was time for that to come to an end.
“I knew coming into tonight, that it was our last homecoming game,” he said. “Us seniors wanted to come out and play well.” Berg and the rest of the seniors certainly did just that.
The Indians defeated the Wabasso Rabbits 27-7 behind a strong running game. Sleepy Eye ran for a combined 244 yards rushing. Berg led the charge with 135 yards of his own while scoring two touchdowns. Fellow senior Landon Strong scored two touchdowns, giving him six for the season. Strong finished with 69 yards rushing.
The Indians took the opening drive down the field using a hot-handed Berg. While Berg beat down the defense throughout the drive, the Indians used the speed and power of Landon Strong as Strong took a sweep to the left side of the field into the end zone to give the Indians a 6-0 lead.
The Indians defense had a strong showing all night long and their first defensive possession set the tone. Sleepy Eye would force Wabasso to their first three and out and the Indians got the ball back immediately.
With the Indians needing to convert a fourth down, Berg took the handoff from five yards out and Strong would find senior Blake Tauer on a running back pass for the two-point conversion, giving the Indians an early 14-0 lead with 1:37 remaining in the first half.
The Rabbits and Indians would exchange scoreless possessions throughout the duration of the second quarter. The Indians would force two fumbles as Isaac Velasquez and Rafa Martinez got the Indians ahead in the turnover department. A welcome change for head coach Cory Haala. “We emphasized taking care of the ball and winning the turnover battle and good things happened.”
As the score remained 14-0 at halftime, the Rabbits got the ball to begin the second half. Wabasso failed to get anything going on the drive and after a failed fake punt, the Indians took over and used their running game to march down the field.
With good field position, the Indians used Strong and Berg to get deeper into Rabbit territory. Ethan Fischer would find a hole on the right side and take it to the nine-yard line. Strong would punch it in on the next play giving the Indians a 20-0 after the extra point attempt was blocked.
Now down three scores, the Rabbits needed an answer. Wabasso would get their only touchdown of the game from running back Nick Marotzke from four yards out. Wabasso would convert the PAT and close the Indians lead to 20-7.
Just as the third quarter expired and the fourth quarter began, Wabasso regained some life. The Rabbits would intercept a pass but the defense stepped up for the Indians. Berg would get a sack on third down and Blake Tauer continued his dominant defensive performance on fourth down. Tauer blasted through the line and forced Wabasso to ditch the punt and scramble short of the first down.
With the Indians looking to put the game away, Berg used every bit of his power on his most impressive run of the night. Berg said of his 34-yard touchdown, “It was my last homecoming game, there was no way I wasn’t going to put the game out of reach there.” Berg also credited his offensive line and the rest of his teammates for the efforts they gave Friday night.
Berg led the Indians with 135 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 20 carries. He also added 23 yards receiving. Strong finished with 69 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. Strong in five games has 544 yards rushing and six touchdowns while averaging 7.25 yards per carry. Berg is second on the team with 387 yards and three touchdowns. Blake Tauer led the defense with a huge night with 12 total tackles. Matthew Sellner also contributed defensively with eight total tackles.
The Indians advance to 2-3 overall and will travel to Tracy next Friday night, Oct. 5 to take on Tracy-Milroy-Balaton. TMB fell to Springfield Friday night for their first loss of the season and are 4-1. Game time for next Friday is 7 p.m.