Fergus surprises Eagles of Sidney
Garrett Weichel (left) and Hunter Schell were just two of the many Fergus students who dressed in white for the football game for white-out night on Friday.Photo by Doreen Heintz
The Golden Eagle football team pulled off a surprise win over Sidney on Friday night at Golden Eagle Stadium. The 14-7 win by Fergus knocked Sidney from the unbeaten ranks in Class A.
“The defense definitely answered the call tonight,” defensive coordinator Troy Hudson told the Golden Eagles after the hard-fought battle.
Head Coach Vic Feller told the team how proud he was of them, but also reminded them “to finish their drives” on offense.
In the contest against Sidney, Fergus had at least two more opportunities to put points on the board, but some untimely turnovers by the Golden Eagle offense kept Sidney in the game until the final seconds ticked off the clock.
In the second half, Fergus went into an up-tempo offense, which did not allow Sidney to substitute on the defensive side of the ball.
The first quarter was a defensive battle between the two Class A schools. After the Fergus defense shut down the Eagles of Sidney on their first possession of the game, the Golden Eagles moved the ball down the field to the Sidney 20-yard line. On a fourth-and-10 play, Fergus quarterback Eric Knox threw an interception. The Golden Eagles got the ball back when the defense shut down the Eagles on three plays. On fourth down, a short Sidney punt gave the Golden Eagles good field position at the Sidney 30-yard line. This time Isaac Fry, who carried the ball 29 times for 218 yards in the contest, fumbled the ball on second down. Offensive lineman Sam Butcher recovered the fumble to avoid another costly turnover. After being called for a block-in-the-back penalty, Fergus received a first down at the Sidney 15-yard line when the Eagles were called for a face-mask penalty. On second down, Knox threw his second interception of the game. Because the interception was in the end zone, Sidney gained possession of the ball on their own 20-yard line.
The first quarter ended after a long run by Sidney’s Alec Lovegren was called back due to another penalty by the Sidney offense.
Sidney punted the ball two plays later, but Fergus was not able to move the ball so had to punt the ball right back to the Eagles. After Sidney went four-and-out, Fergus got the ball back on the Sidney 47-yard line. Mitchell Norslien replaced Knox at quarterback. Norslien completed two passes to Tanner Trafton to get the Golden Eagles down to the 20-yard line. Two runs by Fry gave Fergus a first-and-goal from the seven-yard line.
When faced with third-and-goal, Feller called a timeout to make sure everyone on the offense was on the right page. Fry carried the ball across the goal line from three yards out to give the Golden Eagles their first score of the game and the season. The Eagles blocked the Tanner Mannin PAT kick, but Fergus had its first lead of the game, 6-0, with 4:37 left in the first half.
The lead did not last very long. The Cordell Gallagher kickoff was mishandled by Sidney’s Waylon VonBuren, but he picked up the ball, went straight up the middle, broke into the clear, and scored a Sidney touchdown on the 95-yard kickoff return. Jace Johnson’s PAT kick was good, and Sidney took a 7-6 lead with 4:14 left in the first half.
A fumble of the Sidney kickoff gave the Eagles the ball right back on the Fergus 27-yard line, but Cody Henderson picked off a Sidney pass on third down.
Fergus marched down the field to the Sidney 30-yard line, but a pass from Norslien to Fry was incomplete as the first half ended.
Fergus adds a touchdown in second half
Fergus received the second half kickoff, but turned the ball right over when Knox had the ball pulled from him by a Sidney defender. With the Eagles in Fergus territory, the Fergus defense stepped up. After an initial first down, a host of Fergus defenders made a tackle of the Sidney quarterback on fourth down.
The Golden Eagles’ next possession started on the Sidney 42-yard line. The up-tempo offense got the Golden Eagles into their “groove.” Fry carried the ball several times on the drive and Norslein gained an important first down on a fourth-and-one carry from the 33- to the 22-yard line. On second and 10 from the Sidney 11-yard line, Wesley Jameson carried the ball to the seven-yard line. Jameson scored on the next play to give the Golden Eagles their second TD of the game. A Norslien pass to Jameson on the PAT put Fergus up 14-7 with 4:20 left in the third quarter.
The Fergus defense took over the game throughout the rest of the game. The Golden Eagles forced a Sidney punt after the Fergus TD. The third quarter ended with Fergus in possession of the ball at the Sidney 27-yard line. After Fry made a first down to the 20-yard line, Norslien was sacked on a third down play and then threw an interception on fourth down.
Sidney gained two first downs, but the defensive line held tough. Butcher and Nick Sweeney tackled the Sidney quarterback in the backfield on fourth down to give the Golden Eagles possession of the ball.
Fergus moved the ball to the Sidney 47-yard line. On first down, Fry broke into the clear and seemed to be headed for another Fergus score, but a Sidney defender came up behind Fry and punched the ball out of Fry’s arm. The ball went high in the air into the end zone where it was recovered by Sidney for a touchback, so instead of a touchdown for the Golden Eagles, the ball went to the Sidney Eagles on their 20-yard line.
After Sidney was forced to punt after three plays, Fergus got the ball back. Faced with a fourth-and-five, Mathew Welsh dropped back into punt formation. Welsh got the punt off, and Sidney was called for running into the punter. The costly penalty gave Fergus the ball back with just over two minutes left in the game. Sidney used all three of their timeouts in an attempt to get the ball back. On fourth-and-five, the Golden Eagles ran the time down until the game clock read 3.8 seconds. After Fry came up short of getting a first down, Sidney got the ball back with just 1.2 ticks left on the clock. The Eagles made one last desperate attempt to score but came up way short on the trick play.
Besides Fry’s 218 yards on the ground, Norslien added 21 yards on six carries and Jameson had 13 yards on three carries. Norslien completed seven of his nine passes for 84 yards, but was intercepted two times. The leading receiver for the Golden Eagles was Trafton with three catches for 28 yards. Fergus had a total of 257 yards on the ground and 98 yards through the air.
The tough Fergus defense had 14 players with at least one tackle. Sweeney led the team with seven solo tackles and three assists, while Welsh added five solo and three assists and Jameson had seven solo and one assists. Thomas Ayers was credited with five solo tackles and two assists.
Fergus hits the road for game in Glendive
After starting the season with two home games, Fergus hits the road this week for its first away game of the season. The Golden Eagles travel to Glendive on Friday to face the Dawson County Red Devils. Dawson County enters the game with a 1-1 win-loss record. This past weekend the Red Devils defeated Park.