Rally falls short for Albert Lea football team

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 5, 2002

For the second week in a row, there were some definite positives for the Albert Lea High School football team.

But again it happened too late.

The Tigers spotted Mankato East 36 points before getting on the scoreboard and they lost 43-19 in a Big Nine game at Hammer Field Friday night.

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Albert Lea’s record fell to 0-6, but Friday was the first time they did not face a squad that was undefeated when they met. Entering Friday’s game, the win-loss record of the Tigers’ six opponents was 24-4.

While coach Jeff Marty acknowledged that there was improvement for the second week in a row, he also said the Tigers have room for much more.

“Were still moving forward,” said Marty. “We’re not where we want to be by any means. We’re not happy or satisfied with what we’re doing, but there is some progress being made. We need to continue to develop, get ready for the end of the season and finish strong. We’d like to get two wins here against Austin and Winona. We’re still really focused on getting a victory here and doing well.”

The biggest factor Friday was East quarterback Craig Dahl. The senior returning all-conference player was a two-way force, running for 202 yards on 13 carries and completing both his passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns.

“He’s a pretty potent player,” said Marty. “You have to give him a lot of credit. He’s solid. He has the speed and runs the option so well. We tried to contain him, we talked about it all week, but we didn’t get the things done we talked about in practice.”

Dahl scored the Cougars’ first touchdown on a 1-run sneak on fourth down, capping an 11-play, 50-yard drive after the Tigers punted on the game’s first possession.

A 59-yard run by Dahl set up East’s second score and, after he raced 80yards to the end zone, Dahl’s first pass went 57 yards to Nate Harstad for a touchdown. That made it 29-0 at halftime.

The Cougars opened the second half the way they started the first, going 70 yards in seven plays for a touchdown. This time Dahl and Harstad connected for 36 yards.

Then the Tigers’ offense got going as quarterback Tony Tolbers heated up, hitting Jake McClaskey for a pair of third-quarter touchdowns. Tolbers scored on a 1-yard run in the fourth.

“We gave up three big plays tonight,” said Marty. “The second one was a blow to our intensity, and gave them the momentum. We came back and shored it up a little bit, started to play a little better defense and move the ball. We can do these things, but we just can’t spot teams 20 or 30 points before we turn it on and go. We’re making progress in areas, but need to find a way to turn the corner, get that mental toughness and finish a ballgame. We need to play a complete offensive and defensive game in one night.”

For the second week in a row the Tigers had a season-best in total yards, with 276. Tolbers passed for 190, completing 13 of 21 attempts with one interception, and he ran nine times for a team-high 44 yards. McClaskey caught seven passes for 116 yards. Tyler Young had two receptions for 31 yards. Jason Kuipers gained 41 rushing yards on 13 carries and caught two passes for 23.

ME &045;







AL &045;







First Quarter

ME &045; Dahl 1 run (Rivers kick)

Second Quarter

ME &045; Evans 3 run (Wenzel pass from Dahl)

ME &045; Dahl 80 run (Rivers kick)

ME &045; Harstad 57 pass from Dahl (Rivers kick)

Third Quarter

ME &045; Harstad 36 pass from Dahl (Rivers kick)

AL &045; McClaskey 10 pass from Tolbers (Habben kick)

AL &045; McClaskey 51 pass from Tolbers (kick failed)

Fourth Quarter

ME &045; Hawker run (Rivers kick)

AL &045; Tolbers 1 run (kick blocked)


First downs: 10, 11

Rushing yards: 329, 86

Passing yards: 93, 190

Total yards: 432, 276

Pen.-Yds.: 6-74, 5-30

Turnovers: 0, 1


RUSHING&045;AL, Tolbers 9-44; Kuipers 13-41; Habben 2-1; ME, Dahl 13-202.

PASSING&045;AL, Tolbers 13-21-1, 190; ME, Dahl 2-2-0, 93.

RECEIVING&045;AL, McClaskey 7-116; Young 2-31; Kuipers 3-23; Thorn 1-20.