Nevis needed a win in the regular-season finale to guarantee a home game for the Section 6 9-man football playoffs.
That goal was achieved when Derek Lindow connected with Cain Mitchell for three touchdown passes and scored on a pair of runs as the Tigers built a 32-16 lead before holding on for a 32-30 victory over Blackduck at Nevis on Thursday, Nov. 12.
That win gave Nevis a 2-2 record and the No. 3 seed for the section playoffs. The Tigers will open the playoffs by hosting No. 6 Park Christian in a section quarterfinal game on Tuesday (Nov. 17). Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
After exchanging turnovers to start the game, the Tigers marched 73 yards in only three plays to open the scoring. Ian Ahrendt’s 11-yard run set up a 62-yard TD run by Lindow as Nevis led 6-0 with 7:01 to play in the first quarter.
The Tigers needed only two plays to cover 58 yards on their next series to extend the lead. Lindow followed an 8-yard run with a 50-yard pass to Mitchell as Nevis led 12-0 at the 5:08 mark.
Blackduck put together an 11-play, 60-yard scoring drive to cut into the deficit. Quinn McKeeman’s 5-yard run on fourth-and-3 kept the drive alive before Carson Nendick hauled in a 6-yard TD pass from Evan Belinski to cap off the possession. Dayne Savich caught the conversion as the Drakes trailed 12-8 with 10:01 to play in the first half. That drive took 7:07 off the clock.
Nevis quickly countered that score with a quick two-play drive that covered 59 yards. After a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct on the kickoff gave the Tigers possession at the Blackduck 49, Lindow was sacked for a 5-yard loss. A penalty for delay of game pushed the ball back to the Nevis 41. On the next play, Lindow connected with Mitchell for a 59-yard TD. That gave the Tigers an 18-8 advantage at the 8:37 mark.
A 31-yard run by Ethan Merrill led the Drakes near midfield, but a holding penalty ended that drive as the Tigers took over at their own 47.
Another sack was followed by Ahrendt’s 17-yard run, but another penalty for a false start forced the Tigers to punt.
Blackduck responded with a 10-play, 86-yard scoring drive to close the gap. McKeeman’s 24-yard run, Belinski’s 21-yard run and a 22-yard pass from Belinski to McKeeman set up a 4-yard TD run by Belinski. McKeeman’s conversion made it 18-16 with 1:19 to go before the intermission.
The Tigers regained the momentum entering the break by closing the half with a seven-play, 65-yard drive. Lindow completed 5 of 6 passes on that drive, hitting Mitchell for gains of 6, 16 and 9 yards before finding Ethan Lewis on a 5-yard route. Lindow capped off the drive with a 24-yard strike to Mitchell. Lindow found Mitchell on the conversion for a 26-16 advantage with :18 remaining in the half.
On their opening series of the second half, the Tigers extended their lead when Lindow hit Ethan Klimek for an 11-yard gain before scoring on a 7-yard run on fourth-and-goal. That pushed the lead to 32-16 with 8:56 to go in the third quarter.
A fake punt enabled Blackduck to close the margin. Instead of punting, Merrill’s 7-yard run on fourth-and-2 at the Drakes’ 41 kept the drive going. After a 12-yard run by Merrill, Belinski was sacked for a 10-yard loss. Belinski hit Bryce Frenzel on a 33-yard screen pass as the Drakes overcame a third-and-20 to reach the Nevis 2. Frenzel capped that 13-play, 67-yard drive with a 2-yard TD plunge as Blackduck trailed 32-22 with 3:52 to go in the third quarter.
Nevis was forced to punt, but an interception by Lewis gave the Tigers possession at their own 42. On the next play, McMeeman intercepted a pass and returned it to the Nevis 12. Four plays later, Belisnki scored from 3 yards out on fourth-and-1 and Merrill ran in the conversion as the Drakes trailed 32-30 with 11:14 to play.
Blackduck forced another Nevis punt and appeared to take the lead, but a 65-yard TD run by Belsinki was negated by a holding penalty. The Drakes eventually lost possession at their own 45.
After the Tigers were pushed back to their own 31 on a penalty for a personal foul, Lindow hit Mitchell on a pass play that covered 58 yards. Mitchell fumbled on that play, but the Tigers recovered at the Blackduck 11. That drive ended when Frenzel intercepted a pass in the end zone.
The Drakes attempted to mount a rally as a 22-yard run by Belinski provided a first down at the Nevis 38. Nevis’ defense held and the Tigers ran out the final 1:21 to preserve the win.
Nevis finished with 413 yards in offense with Lindow completing 13 of 20 passes for 301 yards and rushing 13 times for 68 yards. Mitchell caught 11 passes for 285 yards and Ahrendt added 38 yards on five rushing attempts.
Leading the Tigers’ defense were Ahrendt with seven solo tackles and 13 assists, Lewis with four solo tackles and nine assists, Mitchell with nine solo tackles and three assists, Dan Aman with six solo tackles and six assists, Lindow with eight solo tackles, and Nathan Keiser with seven solo tackles and a fumble recovery.
Blackduck ended the regular season with a 4-2 record.