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Dodgers are in

October 20, 2012
By ERIC PRATT sports@messengernews.net

SIOUX CITY - The perseverance of Austin Anderson and the Fort Dodge football team kept the Dodgers' postseason streak alive here Friday.

Anderson was a jack of all trades in the regular season finale, as the senior helped will FDSH to a 29-26 road victory over Sioux City North to secure a Class 4A substate spot inside Olsen Field on the campus of Morningside College.

Anderson intercepted a pass in the red zone with Fort Dodge (3-6 overall, 2-3 in Class 4A-2) clinging to a three-point lead in the final minutes of regulation. He then slipped into the backfield and picked up three straight first downs on the ground to seal the win over North (2-7) and clinch the program's fifth straight playoff berth.

The Dodgers will revive what was thought to be a dormant CIML rivalry on Wednesday in the opening round at ninth-ranked West Des Moines Valley. The Tigers (7-2 overall) clinched the 4A-1 championship with a resounding 28-0 triumph over No. 6 Sioux City East last night.

"We wanted to do whatever it would take to get that (10th game)," said Anderson, who also recovered a fumble and had a 79-yard touchdown reception. "We knew it was a win and you're in, lose and you go home scenario. It was all there in front of us. Coach (Matt) Miller told us to leave it all on the field, and we did that.

"This is just a great feeling. We took advantage of our opportunities and had a big finish (both on offense and defense). It's awesome to be a part of this and share this moment with my teammates."

Fact Box

Scoring Summary

Fort Dodge - Tyler Vaughn (11-yard pass from Andrew Stover), 4:23 left first. Run failed.

SC North - Noah Popken (16-yard run), 8:32 left second. Brandon Velazquez kick.

Fort Dodge - Austin Halligan (2-yard run), 6:51 left second. Pass failed.

SC North - Velazquez (34-yard field goal), 0:36 left second.

Fort Dodge - Tyler Vaughn (28-yard field goal), 0:00 left second.

SC North - D'ajo Hubert (14-yard pass from Daniel Tillo), 3:40 left third. Gabe Jackson pass from Tillo).

Fort Dodge - Keegan Jones (90-yard kickoff return), 3:26 left third. Vaughn kick.

Fort Dodge - Austin Anderson (79-yard pass from Stover), 8:10 left fourth. Vaughn kick.

SC North - Hubert (77-yard kickoff return), 7:53 left fourth. Carlos Elizalde run.

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING - Fort Dodge: Austin Halligan 17-73, Austin Anderson 8-50, Andrew Stover 11-46, Tyler Vaughn 1-22, Jerique Bryson 3-6. SC North: D'ajo Hubert 7-33, Robbie Carter 5-29, Noah Popken 4-23, Carlos Elizalde 2-19, Daniel Tillo 3-11, Brandon Kontz 3-1.

PASSING - Fort Dodge: Andrew Stover 15-29-1-272. SC North: Daniel Tillo 14-24-1-212.

RECEIVING - Fort Dodge: Austin Anderson 2-109, Tyler Vaughn 7-70, Tommy Halligan 3-45, Keegan Jones 2-38, Spencer Barber 1-10. SC North: D'ajo Hubert 5-99, Carlos Elizalde 3-44, Deontre Dean 3-32, Faris Najdawi 2-29, Gabe Jackson 1-8.

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING - Fort Dodge: Austin Halligan 17-73, Austin Anderson 8-50, Andrew Stover 11-46, Tyler Vaughn 1-22, Jerique Bryson 3-6. SC North: D'ajo Hubert 7-33, Robbie Carter 5-29, Noah Popken 4-23, Carlos Elizalde 2-19, Daniel Tillo 3-11, Brandon Kontz 3-1.

PASSING - Fort Dodge: Andrew Stover 15-29-1-272. SC North: Daniel Tillo 14-24-1-212.

RECEIVING - Fort Dodge: Austin Anderson 2-109, Tyler Vaughn 7-70, Tommy Halligan 3-45, Keegan Jones 2-38, Spencer Barber 1-10. SC North: D'ajo Hubert 5-99, Carlos Elizalde 3-44, Deontre Dean 3-32, Faris Najdawi 2-29, Gabe Jackson 1-8.

The contest had plenty of twists and turns. The Dodgers fell behind for a grand total of 14 seconds in the latter stages of the third quarter, when senior Keegan Jones answered a Star touchdown by returning the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a score.

North appeared ready to seize control at the beginning of the fourth period, but Fort Dodge held the Stars out of the end zone with a goal-line stand. A hold wiped out the go-ahead TD, and the Dodgers batted away a fourth-down pass to take the ball back.

Backed into a 3rd-and-19 situation moments later, junior quarterback Andrew Stover found Anderson out of the backfield on a screen pass that turned into a long scoring strike and a 29-18 advantage.

North's D'ajo Hubert responded with a 77-yard kickoff return to paydirt, and the Stars got the ball back with five minutes remaining down by three points. On a first-down slant from the Dodger 16-yard line, Anderson stepped in front of a Daniel Tillo pass for a pivotal pick and Fort Dodge's second red-zone stop in the fourth quarter.

Anderson then barreled forward for seven yards on 3rd-and-6, and added runs of 10 and 11 yards to sew up the win. He had 158 yards from scrimmage after accumulating just eight total yards in the first eight games combined.

Anderson, FDSH's leading rusher a year ago, battled foot injuries and played almost exclusively on defense as a linebacker before Friday.

"I'm willing to do whatever is best for the team," Anderson said. "If that means just being on defense, so be it. If that means doing what I did (last night), I'm always ready when my number is called."

Senior Tyler Vaughn passed Alonzo Clayton as the Dodgers' all-time leader for career receptions. Vaughn added to his single-season record with seven more catches for 70 yards against the Stars. He now has 61 grabs this year and 72 in his career.

Stover passed for 272 yards, pushing his season total to 1,758. His touchdown passes went to Anderson and Vaughn.

Sophomore Austin Halligan also had a short TD run for Fort Dodge, and rushed for a team-high 73 yards on 17 carries. Vaughn kicked a 28-yard field goal at the first-half horn.

Dodger fans out-numbered North backers as the final seconds ticked away, and they celebrated loudly as the players acknowledged their support.

"I just feel great for our kids - especially the seniors, who stepped up and had a big night collectively," Miller said. "They really wanted this and went out there and got it. It wasn't pretty and things got sloppy at times, but our guys kept after it and played hard. Austin Anderson was just everywhere. He had a terrific, clutch overall performance.

"I thought we were a more balanced team (the Dodgers had 272 passing yards and 197 more on the ground). I also think our run defense was really solid in the second half (only 35 yards allowed) and kind of an underrated part of the win."

Fort Dodge and Valley were CIML conference rivals from 1992 through last season. When the state adopted district football for the 4A ranks, the Dodgers and Tigers went their separate ways.

Now, they meet again.

"Hey, at this point, we're happy to be in the postseason - regardless of who we draw," Miller said. "Valley's getting better by the week. To shut out East (last night) is impressive. We're looking forward to the challenge, though. The kids earned this one. They should be proud."

The Dodgers have won at least three regular season games in five straight years, with an overall record of 25-24 over that span. Fort Dodge is 3-2 on the road this fall and 14-6 away from home since 2009.

 
 

 

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