The McGregor Mercuries overcame a 20-0 deficit and rallied to defeat Hill City/Northland 44-40, Aug. 30, at McGregor.
The Mercs racked up 468 yards of offense led by Drew Dean, who rushed for 284 yards, and Willie Glunz, who passed for 95 yards.
The Storm got out of the gate quickly, scoring on the fourth play of the game when Vinny Ruschmeier raced 45 yards to the end zone. McGregor was forced to punt on its first series, and the Storm drove 61 yards in 12 plays for a 14-0 lead with 2:36 left in the opening period. A Merc fumble gave HC/N the ball near mid-field; nine plays later a 16-yard touchdown pass increased the Storm lead to 20-0.
Jacob Metzen returned the kickofff to the 40-yard line; McGregor drove 60 yards before quarterback Willie Glunz sneaked over for the Mercs’ first touchdown of the season. The Storms’ offense was in high gear; a 39-yard pass play set up a 20-yard Ruschmeier touchdown and a 26-6 HC/N lead.
After the Storm picked off a Merc pass, McGregor’s Curtis Jackson recovered a HC/N fumble in the red zone setting up a two-yard touchdown pass from Glunz to Ethan Bohn. Drew Dean’s PAT run sent the Mercs to halftime trailing 26-16.
Each team fumbled on its first possession of the second half, but the Mercs cashed in on their recovery with Joe Oliver plunging over from two yards out. Dean converted another PAT, cutting the Storms’ margin to 26-22.
Just when momentum appeared to switch to the Mercs, Ruschmeier took the ensuing kickoff 79 yards to the house for a 32-22 HC/N lead.
On McGregor’s next series, Glunz and Bohn connected on a 20-yard pass play. Dean carried the ball to the five-yard line, and on second and goal, Glunz scored his second TD of the game.
The Mercs scored on their next two possessions, taking the lead on Dean’s 60-yard scamper through the middle of the line. A PAT conversion gave the Mercs a 38-32 lead. A HC/N fumble on the Merc 19-yard line set up an 82-yard race to the end zone by Dean and a 44-42 McGregor lead.
However, Ruschmeier returned the kickoff 74 yards, narrowing McGregor’s lead to 44-40 with nearly eight minutes left in the game. The Mercs’ offense continued to be in high gear. A 43-yard pass play set up a first down on the Storm 11-yard line, but the Mercs were unable to punch the ball into the end zone, giving HC/N one more opportunity to win the game. A pass interception by Joe Oliver allowed McGregor to run out the clock for its season-opening victory.
In addition to great games by Dean and Glunz, Bohn had 82 in pass receptions yardage, and Oliver rushed for 71 yards. Dean had 13 combined solo and team tackles while Bohn and Alex Henry had eight tackles each. Bohn, Oliver, Henry and Chris Jackson were credited with fumble recoveries, and Oliver picked off a Storm pass.
HC/N 14 12 6 8 40
McGregor 0 14 16 14 44
HC/N-Vinny Ruschmeier 45 yd run (Cameron Wake run)
HC/N-Tucker Holm 7 yd run (PAT failed)
HC/N-17 yd pass from Wake (PAT failed)
McGregor-Willie Glunz 1 yd run (PAT failed)
HC/N Ruschmeier-12 yd run (PAT failed)
McGregor Ethan Bohn 2 yd pass from Glunz (Drew Dean run)
Joe Oliver 2 yd run (Dean run)
HC/N-Ruschmeier 79 yd KO return (PAT failed)
McGregor-Glunz 1 yd run (Dean run)
McGregor-Dean 60 run (Bohn pass from Glunz)
McGregor-Dean 82 yd run (PAT failed)
HC/N-Ruschmeier 74 KO return (pass from Wake good)
Coach Bob Staska comments:
“I really liked how we didn’t give up after falling behind 20-0 and 26-6 with 1:18 to go in first half. A HC/N turnover at that point led to a touchdown for us with eight seconds to go in the half. We scored early in the third quarter and momentum definitely swung our way. We were only able to suit 14 guys and our conditioning paid off big time, especially late in the game. I’m very proud of our effort. We need to improve on special teams. The only scores we gave up in the second half were on kickoff returns. It was a huge confidence building game for us.”