Football Tigers fall 28-0 in final game of regular season
Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 17, 2002
The 2002 football season did not go the way the Albert Lea Tigers had hoped, and neither did the final game of the regular season.
Winona, one of the teams the Tigers expected to compete with, handed Albert Lea a 28-0 loss at Hammer Field Wednesday night, leaving the locals 0-8 entering the section playoffs.
As has happened so many times this year, the biggest trouble for the Tigers came late in the second quarter when the Winhawks put up 21 points in the final 4:56, their third score with 2 seconds remaining.
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While the defense had some shining moments, the Albert Lea offense sputtered on a cold, snowy night. The Tigers totaled 76 yards, 50 rushing, while the Winhawks ran for 263 and passed for 91.
&uot;We just didn’t ever get on track offensively. Kind of issued a challenge to the offense this week, to see how we would respond. We didn’t respond offensively. I thought on the defensive side of the ball the guys stepped up pretty good,&uot; said head coach Jeff Marty.
It was back and forth early, with both teams punting on their opening possession.
The defense came up big on Winona’s next two drives, stopping the Winhawks both times on fourth down. But the offense failed to produce a first down and, after Albert Lea’s fourth punt, Winona embarked on an eight-play, 56-yard drive that ended with a 27-yard touchdown pass.
Jason Kuipers appeared to spark the Tigers with a 31-yard run to the Winona 31, but three consecutive incomplete passes gave it back to Winona.
Brent Stinson broke a 46-yard run on the Winhawks’ next play, and Aaron Pruka followed with a 22-yard blast up the middle for a touchdown.
A fumble gave Winona the ball again with 59 seconds left and, six plays later, Andy Gappa tossed a 5-yard touchdown pass to Dustin Felix with 2.2 seconds on the clock.
The second half was much like the first quarter. The Tigers punted after three plays, then forced Winona’s first punt of the night.
After another Albert Lea punt, the Winhawks marched 70 yards in 11 plays for their final touchdown.
&uot;I think the guys went into the game with a little bit of confidence, but things just slowly ate away at that confidence,&uot; said Marty. &uot;A 28-0 score is not terrible, but it’s nothing like we expected for the night. It’s frustrating for the kids and frustrating for coaches in that we think they can do better. And it just didn’t go that way.&uot;
The Tigers, expected to be seeded last among seven seeds in the section, open the playoffs Tuesday at Farmington or Waseca.
W &045; Cady 27 pass from Gappa (pass failed)
W &045; Pruka 22 run (Gappa run)
W &045; Felix 5 pass from Gappa (Weess kick)
W &045; Ford 2 run (Weess kick)
First downs: 13, 3
Rushing yards: 263, 50
Passing yards: 91, 26
Total yards: 354, 76
Pen.-Yds.: 2-10, 1-5
Turnovers: 1, 2
RUSHING&045;AL, Kuipers 16-63.
PASSING&045;AL, .Tolbers 4-11-0, 26.
RECEIVING&045;AL, Kuipers 2-17; McClaskey 1-7; Thorn 1-2.