There were times in the first half it didn’t look like the New Richmond football team would win in a runaway, especially when leading rusher Andrew Trandahl left the game in the first quarter with an injury.
The Tigers carried a tenuous 15-6 lead into halftime. In the second half the Tigers played much sharper, scoring four touchdowns to build a 43-6 final victory total over Eau Claire North. The win raises New Richmond’s record in the Big Rivers Conference to 3-2. The Tigers finish their BRC schedule with a pair of home games, against Hudson in next Friday’s Homecoming game and against Rice Lake on Oct. 15. The Tigers are 5-2 overall.
Tiger coach Reggie Larson didn’t have any information on Trandahl’s condition, saying he was scheduled to receive an MRI on Saturday for his leg injury. The Tigers were already short-handed, with Ethan Turbeville out with an injury. That resulted in Brock Unger moving from receiver to running back. Trandahl had been moved to Turbeville’s mike linebacker position for the game, so now the coaches had to hastily fill two linebacker positions. Sophomore Kyle Germain stepped into the middle of the defense.
“Kyle played extremely well,” Larson said.
The opening play of the game flashed the Tigers’ intent as Unger returned the opening kickoff of the game for a touchdown. Unfortunately, a penalty caused the touchdown to be taken off the scoreboard. The Tigers gave up the ball on downs, but quickly got the ball back on a fumble recovery. The Tigers converted that to points when quarterback Seamus Scanlan hit Unger with a 20-yard scoring pass.
Trandahl was injured late in the first quarter and the injury seemed to damage the Tigers’ focus. North scored its first touchdown in a month when Mekhi Thomas broke free on a 53-yard fake punt run, cutting the Tiger lead to 8-6.
North left a big opening in its secondary all night and the Tigers found it again midway through the second quarter. This time Scanlan hit Kennan Stowards for a 29-yard score, making the score 15-6 at halftime.
Larson said the coaches worked at halftime to get the team to regain its focus.
“You could feel the wind come out of our sails,” Larson said about Trandahl’s injury. He said the coaches also requested the Tigers play with more physicality in the second half.
The Tigers scored on their first possession of the second half on a 39-yard run by Unger. He finished with 116 yards in 12 carries. The Tiger offense was rolling now. Early in the fourth quarter, Jacob Hagman scored his first varsity touchdown on a 25-yard pass from Scanlan. Hagman’s father is a former ECN standout.
Unger had a 29-yard run in the next Tiger possession, setting up a three-yard scoring run by Scanlan.
The Tigers’ final touchdown came on an interception return by junior defensive back Vance Landa. Earlier in the game he couldn’t hold onto an interception that would have been a sure touchdown. He didn’t make that mistake again. He picked off a fourth quarter pass and the Tigers’ first interception return score of the season.
“He’s gotten exponentially better as the year’s gone on,” Larson said of Landa.
Scanlan finished the game with nine completions in 13 attempts. He completed passes to six different receivers.
Larson said several players took on larger roles because of the injuries and handled the workload well. Among them were Drew Solomon, Blake Milton and Ian Sheetz. Unger also earned praise, because he hadn’t practiced at halfback and hadn’t played the position in two years.