HURON - Top-ranked Tea Area had averaged 50 points per game in the Titans’ first two games, but it was the defense that overwhelmed the Huron Tigers in the first game at Tiger Stadium of the season as the Titans won Saturday 36-0.
The hometown squad got the ball first and went five plays and two first downs before an incompletion or a play went for no gain. However, the final play of that run of plays was a run by Jayden Beck where he appeared to injure his wrist, and the Tigers weren’t able to make a gain on third down after the injury, eventually having to punt.
Tea Area took the punt at their own 20 and put together a methodical drive that hit for a pair of big plays that were saved from being touchdowns by plays from CJ Gainey each time.
After the Titans got into the red zone, Dylan Lichty slapped away a ball on 3rd and five, forcing Tea Area to settle for a 30-yard field goal by Chase Van Tol.
Beck had a big return on the ensuing kickoff, bringing it back all the way to the Tiger 44-yard-line. However, the Tigers went backward on the drive and quickly punted.
Tea Area started on its own 44 and leaned on senior running back Jaxon Weber for the play, as he had four carries and a reception during the drive, finishing off the drive with a 12-yard scamper into the end zone. The kick failed, leaving the score 9-0 Tea Area at the end of the first quarter.
The Tigers had the first possession of the second half, and Jayden Beck opened the drive with a pair of runs to gain 20 yards, but the drive quickly stalled after that, and the Tigers had to punt.
The Titans then put together a methodical drive, using multiple runners and receivers along with different formations. Another short pass to receiver Gabe Grant broke free of the Tigers defenders and found clear running all the way into the end zone for a 34-yard score. Again, the kick failed, but Tea Area led 15-0.
Huron got the break it was looking for after a pair of Quinston Luellman runs got a first down to open the next drive. Jonatan Hernandez broke a pair of tackles at the line, then another roughly 10 yards down the field, and he was down the sideline for 64 yards before he was knocked out at the 2-yard line.
That break turned into heartbreak immediately as the Tigers fumbled the ball on an option play. Tea Area recovered on the 5-yard line.
Buried deep in their own territory with just over two minutes left, Tea Area made multiple big plays attempting to get one more score before halftime, but the drive was stalled just inside Tiger territory, with a 15-0 halftime lead for the Titans.
Weber returned the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown, but that was called back due to a holding penalty on the Titans. That didn’t slow down the Titan offense, however, who went in a few minutes later on a 5-yard pass from Lundin to Nathan Babb. The kick was good for a 22-0 Tea Area lead.
Beck had two strong runs to open the next drive, gaining a pair of first downs, but McNeil underthrew Kranzler, and Weber stepped in front for an interception, giving the Titans the ball back again.
The Titans showed their first crack in the armor as Weber took the handoff and sprinted 54 yards down the field, but Luellman ran him down, stripped the ball and recovered it for the Tigers.
The Tigers turned the ball over on downs on the following drive. Tea Area used four runs to punch the ball into the end zone just before the end of the third quarter for a 29-0 lead.
The Titans flexed their defensive muscle, sniffing out a reverse to Max Kranzler, forcing a big loss on the play and forcing a punt. With a short field, the Titans used a number of runs to different runners to work the way down the field before an 8-yard dash by Weber up the crease led to another touchdown, making the score 36-0 for the Titans.
The Tigers attempted to put together a drive but sruggled to keep the drive going, turning the ball over on downs. The Titans ran out the clock for the victory.
The Titans move to 3-0 behind 449 yards of offense, 312 of which was on the ground. The team spread the carries around, though as Weber led Tea Area with 14 carries, 135 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Lundin passed for 137 yards and two touchdowns as well as rushing for 54 yards.
The Tea Area defense held the Tigers to just 182 total offensive yards as Huron falls to 1-2. Beck finished with 74 yards rushing on 12 carries and also had six tackles on defense. Gainey was the leading tackler for the Tigers with seven tackles, including multiple that likely saved bigger plays.
The Tigers host Watertown Friday for Homecoming.
Score by quarters
Tea Area 9 6 14 7 — 36
Huron 0 0 0 0 — 0
5:03 - TA - 30-yard field goal by Chase Van Tol.
0:24 - TA - Jaxon Weber 12-yard TD run. (PAT kick failed.)
4:40 - TA - Cael Lundin 34-yard TD pass to Gabe Grant. (PAT kick failed.)
7:11 - TA - Lundin 5-yard TD pass to Nathan Babb. (Van Tol kick is good.)
0:42 - TA - Jackson Smythe 5-yard TD run. (Van Tol kick is good.)
6:49 - TA - Weber 8-yard TD run. (Van Tol kick is good.)