Martell, Mustangs end L-A-E’s playoff run

Ray Maloney, Sports
Lakota-Adams-Edmore running back Tate Aronson follows the block of Cole Haugland (4) during first-half action of Saturday’s 9-man state playoff game in Lakota. Aronson and the Raiders dropped an 18-12 decision to South Border to close their season

LAKOTA, N.D. — A generation ago one of the top-selling toys on the market was Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Robots. The two boxers went toe-to-toe and when a knockout punch was delivered, the victim’s head would pop up.

Lakota-Adams-Edmore and South Border played their own version of the children’s game on Saturday in Lakota. It was not until Tanner Lippert scored on a 19-yard run with 1:32 left in the third quarter that the knockout punch was delivered as South Border got past the Raiders 18-12 in the second round of the 9-man state playoffs.

The Mustangs, who improved to 7-2 on the season, will face Hankinson on Saturday in the quarterfinal round. Hankinson upended Napoleon 39-20 in their game in Napoleon.

“Defensively we played fine,” L-A-E coach Joe Harder said. “Giving up just 18 points should have been enough for us to win ... we just didn’t play well enough offensively to win.”

Things looked good for the Raiders from the opening kickoff. L-A-E used the first possesion of the game and marched to the South Border 14-yard line and appeared ready to take command of the contest. But a pair of false start penalties pushed them back and the Mustang defense came up big on a fourth-and-16 by stopping Seth Kuchar at the 10 and taking over on downs.

We shot ourselves in the foot on that opening drive,” Harder said. “We gave away a touchdown ... and in playoff football you have to take advantage of your chances.”

South Border got on the board first. Workhorse Ross Martell scampered 12 yards on the first play of the second quarter to put the Mustangs in front 6-0 after the conversion pass failed.

Neither team was successful on any conversion attempts in the game.

For Martell it was the first of two touchdowns on the day. His 39-yard scamper with 9:13 left in the third quarter put the Mustangs in front 12-6.

Finding themselves in the hole twice did not seem to faze the Raiders — at least in the first three periods. Both times L-A-E managed to tie the game as the two teams continued to duke it out up and down the field.

Just four minutes after Martell’s opening score, L-A-E quarterback Seth Kuchar hooked up with Jacob Haman on a four-yard pass to knot the game for the first time.

Kuchar scored a touchdown of his own at 6:04 of the third period to tie the game at 12-12. A bid to grab the lead for the first time was thwarted when South Border’s Justin Deede prevented the conversion with a jarring tackle close to the goal line and the two teams remain tied until Lippert’s game-winner less than five minutes later.

“I got fatigued, but you have to give all you’ve got,” said Martell, who finished with 245 yards on 45 carries. “Our offense operates with smash-mouth football.”

Martell was given the ball on 27 of 33 plays in the second half against the Raiders. Lippert added 92 yards on 12 carries of his own.

L-A-E had three chances to overtake the Mustangs after Lippert’s score. But South Border intercepted a Kuchar pass to end one drive and stopped the Raiders twice on fourth down, including the final drive when L-A-E threw a pair of incompletions before Devin Olson sacked Kuchar and also tackled a ball carrier for a nine-yard loss on the next play to give the ball back to the Mustangs with just 10 seconds left in the game.

L-A-E standout Tate Aronson rushed for 119 yards on 24 carries to lead the Raiders, who close their season at 8-2.

South Border     0     6     12     0     —     18

Lakota-A-E        0     6      6      0     —     12

Scoring Summary

First Quarter

No scoring

Second Quarter

SB: Ross Martell 13 run (pass failed)

L-A-E: Jacob Haman 4 pass from Seth Kuchar (pass failed)

Third Quarter

SB: Martell 39 run (run failed)

L-A-E: Kuchar 2 run (run failed)

SB: Tallon Lippert 19 run (run failed)

Fourth Quarter

No scoring

Individual Leaders

Rushing: LAE - Tate Aronson 24-119, Seth Kuchar 8-46; SB - Ross Martell 46-250, Tallon Lippert 12-49.

Passing: LAE - Seth Kuchar 6-11-1, 46 yards. SB - Lippert 1-1-0, 31 yards.

Receiving: LAE - Logan Erickson 1-27, Jacob Haman 2-12, Jordan Kuchar 1-7; SB - Justin Deede 1-31.