Titan gridders improve to 4-0 with 22-3 win over Simley

With the condition of the field as it was, visitors to the football game between the visiting Simley Spartans and the Tartan Titans had to have known the game was going to be sloppy the moment they arrived.

The turf resembled preparations for a mud bath and this was the Titans' homecoming game. It was supposed to be a prestigious, celebratory night. Not a rainy one.

You knew that running backs and receivers weren't going to be able to make cuts at their normal speeds.

The game was destined to be a defensive showdown. The winner of this game was going to be the team who could battle the elements and crush them.

Tartan head coach Darren Glazier summed it up when he commented, "These were the worst field conditions I have ever witnessed."

It was evident on the first drive that the Simley Spartans would not be up to this task of moving the ball on the ground.

Premier Spartan running back Alex Tulp - he ended with 13 carries for 75 yards - slipped and fell for a loss of two yards on the first play of the game.

Then, on third down and four, he slipped again, gaining only two yards.

However, neither team looked impressive out of the gate. The lone points of the first quarter came on a 35-yard field goal by Simley kicker Mike Hoeft.

His "chip shot" sailed true, after he had established himself a week ago, when he also made good, but from 50 yards out.

As the second quarter got underway, the Titans' offense did too.

Following a failed fourth-down attempt by Simley, Tartan took the ball over at their own 30 yard line and went to work.

On third and 10 from the Simley 42-yard line, Sam Ryan connected with Jordan Johnson for an 18-yard aerial - one of Johnson's two catches for 28 yards, both coming on this drive.

Following Johnson's catch came a 23-yard run by quarterback Sam Ryan.

Later, Tartan head coach Darren Glazier said of Ryan, "When the ball is in his hands, I love it. He is such an athlete."

In postgame comments, Simley coach, Ray Betton, agreed, stating, "Sam Ryan shocked the heck out of us tonight. We were completely prepared for Jordan (Johnson) and Hedca (Neufville), but we weren't ready for Ryan's versatility."

Ryan, who carried the ball 10 times for 92 yards - a 9.2 average - and a touchdown, brought the ball down to the Simley 6-yard line with his 23-yard carry.

The Tartan junior "Field Marshal" joked after the game, saying that he was going to try and lead the team in rushing yards this season.

Johnson - who carried 21 times for 78 yards in the game - then brought the ball down to the 1-yard line.

From there Neufville punched it in for six points.

However - garnering extra points following a score has been an issue for the Titans all-season long - they missed the PAT attempt, making the tally 6-3.

Following the Tartan score and the ensuing kickoff, Simley went 3-and-out and was forced to punt.

A bad snap that went high and all the way into the end zone, was pounced on by the Titan linebacker Marty Wallgren. Wallgren's recovery made it 12-3.

The Titans decided to go for two and Jordan Johnson successfully knocked it in, making the score 14-3, Tartan.

Simley took the kickoff, back at their own 11-yard line, with 56 seconds remaining in the half.

They made a definite run for the gold, when, on their first play from scrimmage, Tulp broke what looked like a sure touchdown run.

But yet again, he couldn't master the terrain. He slipped and fell after a gain of 19-yards.

The Spartans then went into their hurry-up offense. Quarterback William Coonrod - 7-for-24 for 139 yards and one interception - completed a 28-yard pass to Jordan Roue.

But the Spartans couldn't continue with their momentum.

Tartan senior defensive lineman, Greg White, broke through and sacked Coonrod for a loss of seven yards, as the half came to an end.

It seemed, that during the intermission Tartan players had stickum applied to their cleats.

As play got underway in the third quarter, Tartan runners were just blowing by the Simley defenders. There was little that Simley could do to stop them.

Opening up the second half, Tartan came out and did what they do best. The Titans pounded the ball through on the ground, with Johnson, Neufville and Ryan carrying the load.

The opening drive started with a 9-yard run by Neufville.

Later, on first and 10 from his own 40-yard line, Johnson broke loose and gained 24 yards.

Two plays later, Ryan took it 36 yards to pay dirt.

The drive, which took 6 plays and just 1:43, covered 80 yards for six points. Ryan then ran for 3 yards and the two-point conversion to put the final points on the board.

More importantly, it seemingly took the life out of the Spartans, as it eliminated any hope that they had of a comeback.

The fourth quarter was played with neither team able to put up points and the Tartan defense held stubbornly to protect the 25-point spread which produced their 4-0 Classic Suburban Conference record.

Next Friday, the Titans travel to face Minnetonka. The game, which will be the Skippers' "Homecoming," is a 7 p.m. scheduled start.

Simley (1-3) will host the St. Thomas Cadets in a 7 p.m. scheduled contest at Simley.

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