Tigers make progress at Mayo

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 28, 2002

ROCHESTER &045; If you had asked followers of Big Nine football about the prospects for Friday’s game between Albert Lea and Rochester Mayo, most would have told you it could be the worst loss of the year for Albert Lea.

The Tigers were winless, the Spartans were undefeated, and it was Mayo’s homecoming.

None of that changed. But it wasn’t as easy as expected.

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The Tigers played their toughest game of the season &045; especially on defense &045; keeping it close throughout the first half before falling 42-14.

&uot;We went in there wanting to build, and focus on playing well, and the guys played well,&uot; said Tigers coach Jeff Marty. &uot;I feel we basically improved our overall game. It was the best effort we’ve had.&uot;

Marty was particularly pleased with the defense, which had two goal-line stands in the first half, during which Mayo did not start a drive in its own territory. The Spartans’ third touchdown of the first half came on a 56-yard pass in the final minute.

&uot;It was probably the best half of defense we have put together the last two years,&uot; said Marty.

&uot;Defensively, the kids were mentally into the game and really prepared themselves well.&uot;

Among the defensive standouts, according to Marty, were defensive back Mike Carr, middle linebackers Jake Christenson and Jeff Bohlman, ends Randy Larson, Tom Munden and Tony Tolbers, and outside linebackers Marcus Thorstad, Tyler Young and David Heijerman.

&uot;Everyone on our whole defensive unit deserves a pat on the back,&uot; said Marty.

The Tigers also had a season-high 230 total yards and eight first downs, though most of them came against the Mayo reserves in the second half.

Jake McClaskey was the offensive standout, catching four passes for 111 yards. Quarterback Tony Tolbers was 6-for-12 for 108 yards, with no interceptions.

Jason Kuipers scored the Tigers’ first touchdown, breaking a 20-yard run in the third quarter.

Tolbers and McClaskey connected on a 26-yard scoring pass in the fourth period, teaming again for the two-point conversion.

&uot;Part of our offensive success was that the guys just decided they were just going to do it,&uot; said Marty. &uot;It was nice to connect again offensively.&uot;

And even nicer to build some momentum.

Said Marty, &uot;It left us with a good feeling of trying to improve and turn this thing around.&uot;

AL &045;







RM &045;







First Quarter

RM &045; Wahl pass from Nelson (Morgan kick)

Second Quarter

RM &045; Lawler 1 run (Morgan kick)

RM &045; Wahl 56 pass from Nelson (Morgan kick)

Third Quarter

RM &045; Buzard 80 run (Morgan kick)

RM &045; Lawler 5 run (Morgan kick)

RM &045; Johnson 16 pass from Nelson (Morgan kick)

AL &045; Kuipers 20 run (kick blocked)

Fourth Quarter

AL &045; McClaskey 26 pass from Tolbers (McClaskey pass from Tolbers)


First downs: 8, 9

Rushing yards: 86, 196

Passing yards: 144, 183

Total yards: 230, 379

Pen.-Yds.: 2-11, 8-55

Turnovers: 2, 1


RUSHING&045;AL, Kuipers 16-22; Habben 8-4; Tolbers 4-0.

PASSING&045;AL, Tolbers 6-12-0, 108; Kuipers 1-1-0, 36.

RECEIVING&045;AL, McClaskey 4-111; Thorn 2-31; Habben 1-2.