On frozen Finney Field, the top-ranked Odessa Tigers used a quick start and a touch of good fortune to tame the other Tigers.
Playing on 3 inches of crusted snow and under a clear sky that dropped the temperature to 15 degrees, Odessa made two first-half touchdowns stand up for a 14-0 win over the LaCross-Washtucna Tigercats in the first round of the State B-8 football playoffs Friday night.
Odessa scored four plays after the opening kickoff and survived four L-C visits inside the 20 to advance to a second-round game against Cusick next weekend, the winner of which earns a berth in Gridiron Classic II.
“The kids buckled down pretty good,” Odessa coach Myron Kramer said.
“Our defense kind of teased them,” running back-defensive back Lance Meise said. “We let them move the ball, but inside the 20 we were tougher than nails.”
Joel Bell scored the first touchdown, following runs of 7, 25 and 3 yards by Meise with a 24-yard burst over the right side 2 minutes into the game.
The Tigercats answered that by marching from their 32 to the Odessa 7. But Casey Rouleau couldn’t hold two passes from Greg Whitman in the end zone and L-C turned the ball over on downs.
Stephen Walter ended the threat by sacking Whitman on fourth down.
Odessa responded with a 15-play, 88-yard drive, overcoming a big holding penalty for the only other touchdown. Quarterback Randy Carlson capped the 6-minute, 57-second drive with a 1-yard run. Then he hit Sean Moon for the two-point conversion.
“They were a little bit bigger and they came right at us,” said L-C coach Jeff Nelson, who only suited 13 players. “We stood there toe-to-toe. I think that was it, we stood there and let them come at us.”
The Tigercats had the only three-downs-and-punt series after that, but Odessa once ran out of downs at the L-C 20. Then the Tigercats went from their 27 to the Odessa 4, but on the last play of the half Bell sacked Whitman.
L-C got to the Odessa 10 on the first series of the second half, using up half the third quarter, before turning the ball over on downs. Odessa suffered the same fate, going from its 14 to inside the Tigercats’ 10.
By then, the fourth quarter had just started and although the Tigercats went from their 12 to the Odessa 15, they ran out of downs with 1:19 to play.
“Dropped passes and Odessa stepped up,” Nelson said. “We just didn’t get the job done. We knew we could move the ball on them and stop them.”
L-C had 61 plays on offense but only got 232 yards on its five series. Clint Anderson had 120 yards rushing.
Counting running out the clock at the end, Odessa had six possessions. The Tigers had 225 yards rushing and 39 passing. Meise had 117 yards on 17 carries.
“We get a lot of first downs but then we shot ourselves in the foot,” Meise said. “The line opened up great holes.”
Bell, who also had several big plays on defense, said the opening drive set the tone.
“We just pounded it up the middle,” he said. “We were just overpowering their blockers. We were able to out-maneuver them in the snow.”
Odessa 14, LaCrosse-Wash. 0
LaCrosse-Wash. 0 0 0 0 - 0
Odessa 6 8 0 0 - 14
O-Bell 24 run (kick failed)
O-Carlson 1 run (Moon pass from Carlson)
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