By Kristan Krogman
A shorthanded White River Tiger football team travelled to Murdo Friday for a rivalry match-up with the Jones County Coyotes.
Jones County senior Skyler Miller, the focal point of the Coyote offense, found the endzone with 5:45 remaining in period one for the first score of the night. Down 8-0, the Tigers’ Justin Prue took the ensuing kickoff 80 yards for an apparent touchdown, but a flag on the play nullified the run. Sophomore Kaileb Valburg, who highlighted the Tiger offense, picked up a pair of first downs as the Tiger drive made its way upfield through the remaining minutes of the period.
Another Valburg first down took the Tigers to the five yard line to start the second period. A third down sack by the Coyote defense brought on a fourth down and goal, and a big play for both teams. The Coyotes got the stop and regained possession. Play through the remaining minutes of the first half saw both teams advancing the ball incrementally, though neither team made a threatening drive deep into their opponent’s zone. The score stood 8-0 at intermission.
The second half got started with good field position for the Tigers after Jones County attempted an onside kick. Casey Rounsley picked up a first down for White River before a 36 yard touchdown run by Tanner Larvie cut the Coyote lead to 6-8. Jones County responded with a scoring drive, capped by a 1 yard run by Miller, his second touchdown on the night. Miller punched in the two point conversion, points that proved costly to the Tigers as the game wore on.
Turnovers came for both teams, a fumble for Jones County on their final possession of the third and an interception for White River in their opening drive of the fourth. As rain began to fall in the fourth quarter, the Tigers threatened with a drive that ended on an unsuccessful fourth down attempt just inside the Jones County five yard line. The Coyotes were quickly forced to punt and good field position left the Tigers with a big opportunity. They took advantage, with a short kick, good return by Larvie, and a Coyote penalty all adding to the Tigers’ fortunes. With just six yards to the endzone, it was Valburg who got the call. He scored on the first play from scrimmage, but again the Tigers fell short in converting the points after.
Jones County worked to expend time off the clock, slowing their offense to a snail’s pace. Quarterback Dylan Kinsley picked up a crucial first down on a fourth and short and time continued to elapse in favor of the home team. The White River defense did get a stop on the next fourth down play, and with forty six seconds showing on the game clock, they had possession of the ball. Seventy six yards separated the Tiger and the endzone and despite every effort, the Tigers were unable to gain the necessary yardage. A fumble on third down ended the drive and, in essence, the game as the Coyotes took a knee and allowed time to expire. They won by a final score of 16-12.