Tigers stopped cold by Mayo

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 2, 1999

It was another rough night for the Albert Lea High School football team.

Saturday, October 02, 1999

It was another rough night for the Albert Lea High School football team.

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First, the rain fell. Then it turned to sleet and, finally, to snow.

Then there was the Rochester Mayo Spartans.

The visiting Spartans proved tougher to deal with than the weather for the Tigers, who absorbed a 44-0 loss at Hammer Field to fall to 0-5 on the season.

Rochester Mayo, which was upset two weeks ago by crosstown rival Century, improved to 4-1 to remain in a second-place tie in the Big Nine.

While Tigers coach Steve Cunningham came away impressed by the Spartans, he said the Tigers gained some respect in his eyes as well.

&uot;Mayo is a very good team,&uot; said Cunningham. &uot;They’re strong and physical, with at least two kids who can bench press more than 350 pounds. But especially in the first half, they didn’t just take anything away from us. They had to earn everything they got. We did a lot of things right, especially in the first half. We just have to put everything together.&uot;

Among the positives, according to Cunningham, was pass protection.

&uot;Our offensive line protected a lot better,&uot; he said. &uot;Now, we have to catch the ball.&uot;

The Spartans put the first points on the board after blocking a punt on the Tigers’ first possession and turning it into a seven-play, 29-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 5-yard scoring run by Joe Lozano. The Tigers blocked the PAT kick and Mayo led 6-0 with 5:54 left in the first quarter.

After another punt, Mayo took it 41 yards in seven plays, with Isaac Kieffer throwing a 25-yard touchdown pass to Brent Boese. Kieffer passed to Brent Kieffer for a two-point conversion.

The Tigers’ next drive ended with another punt, but they caught a break when the Spartans fumbled it and Phil Wacholz recovered on the Mayo 44-yard line. The Tigers couldn’t capitalize on the turnover, though, and were stopped on fourth down.

The Spartans followed with a nine-play, 56-yard drive, with Lozano scoring from 2 yards out. Another two-point conversion made it 22-0.

Mayo marched to the Albert Lea 3-yard line late in the second quarter but was denied when Beau Zuehl recovered a fumble.

The Spartans took their opening possession of the second half and went 65 yards in nine plays. Lozano scored again, this time on a 3-yard run. Brent Picker kicked the PAT.

The Tigers turned the ball over three times in the fourth quarter and the Spartans turned two of the miscues into touchdowns.

The Tigers had 81 total yards, 26 rushing and 55 passing as Nick Cunningham went 5-for-20 with three interceptions.

Wacholz caught three passes for 49 yards, Jeremy Jacobson two for six. Scott Tuchtenhagen led the Tigers in rushing with 28 yards on 14 carries.

Mayo totaled 386 yards, including 296 rushing with Lozano leading with 78 yards on 15 carries. Kieffer was 5-for-9 passing for 90 yards.

The Tigers had three first downs to the Spartans’ 10 and were penalized four times for 40 yards. Mayo drew four penalties for 30 yards.

Coach Cunningham said he was proud of the Tigers’ efforts from start to finish.

&uot;I was extremely proud of how hard our kids played through the whole game,&uot; said Cunningham. &uot;This is the kind of a season where, when things start going bad in a game, it’s very easy for teams to quit when they’re down a couple touchdowns. We didn’t do that. The last couple weeks we’ve started to learn what it takes to play the game. We played very hard, very intense the whole game. The problem was we didn’t play very smart the whole game. Once again, we ran out of gas in the fourth quarter because of the number of people we have playing both ways.&uot;

The Tigers will face their third consecutive Rochester team this Friday, traveling to take on undefeated John Marshall.