Somerset Spartans

The Somerset football team ended the 2021 season with something good to remember.

The Spartans scored twice in the final 7:27 of the game to overcome a 19-14 deficit, winning at Baldwin-Woodville, 30-19. The Spartans end the season with a 2-5 record in the Middle Border Conference and a 3-6 overall mark.

Big plays, and several unusual plays, marked Friday’s game. Somerset scored on a fumble recovery in the end zone after a 41-yard completion, and on an interception return. One of the Blackhawks’ touchdowns came on a deflected pass.

These were two evenly matched teams. It showed in the numbers, with both teams rushing for 189 yards. Somerset’s edge was in passing yardage, and that edge came because of the deciding touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. Somerset quarterback Rory Hoff found Caymen Gebheim circling out of the backfield on a wheel route. Gebheim took the pass in stride and raced down the left sideline for a 50-yard score that put Somerset ahead 22-19.

Somerset sophomore defensive back Nick Tolackson played his best game of the season and the fourth quarter will be one he always remembers. The Blackhawks final hope was doused when Tolackson cut in front of a B-W receiver to grab a pass, returning it 36 yards for the final touchdown with 1:37 remaining. Tolackson wasn’t done. In the final minute, in an almost identical play, Tolackson intercepted another B-W pass.

The first half was choppy for both teams. Somerset’s first possession ended on an interception and B-W took quick advantage, scoring with 5:40 elapsed in the game.

Somerset took advantage of a bad B-W punt late in the first quarter, only needing to drive 35 yards for the score. Hoff’s running covered all that turf, scoring on a 1-yard keeper and adding the two-point conversion.

The only score of the second quarter came when a Somerset defensive back deflected a pass in the end zone, but B-W receiver Sam Hush cradled the deflection for a touchdown. That put B-W ahead 13-8 at halftime.

The only touchdown of the third quarter was scored by Somerset senior Jack Casey. He caught a pass and carried it to near the goal line when the ball was knocked out of his grasp from behind, bounding into the end zone. Several players had chances to dive on the ball, but it was Casey who came up with it, giving Somerset the touchdown.

Baldwin retook the lead midway through the fourth quarter, scoring on a 72-yard draw play.

Somerset coach Bruce Larson was extremely pleased that his seniors could end their careers on a win.

“I think it mattered to them to go out that way,” Larson commented.

B-W only had one big play in Friday’s game. Larson said the defense has been improving steadily and giving up fewer big plays is one example of that. Working younger players into positions due to injury has gotten more Spartans experience they can build upon for the future. Tollackson moved into the defensive backfield three weeks ago, as did freshman safety Kane Donnelly.

Larson said it’s also important that the younger players have the momentum of a win on which they can build for next season. With the team changing both its offensive and defensive structures this season, Larson credited the players with working hard to absorb all of the new information they had to learn.

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