Jenson sparks Firebirds in opener

Ray Maloney, Sports
Devils Lake’s Kole Jenson (15) follows the blocking of teammate Sam Desai (34) as he carries the ball against Valley City in Friday’s season opener at Hanna Field. Jenson, who also returned a kickoff for an 85-yard touchdown, finished the game with 162 yards on 18 carries as Devils Lake won the opener 56-30. Valley City’s Brandon Larson (22) and Kyle Kjelland (51) look to bring Jenson down on the play.

VALLEY CITY, N.D. — A year ago Devils Lake made things look easy against Valley City in the season opener as the Firebirds notched a 41-6 win over the visiting Hi-Liners.

It took a while, but Devils Lake again scored a big win over Valley City as the visiting Firebirds scored three times in the third quarter on their way to a 56-30 win over the Hi-Liners Friday at Hanna Field to open the 2010 campaign.

Kole Jenson got the Firebirds rolling late in the first half and that provided the impetus Devils Lake needed. The Devils Lake defense also seemed to come to life in the final half.

“We talked about it at halftime and the guys on the sidelines knew it as well,” Devils Lake coach Jay Schneider said, “we were not tackling very well. We’ve got to do a better job of (tackling) if we are to be successful.”

Valley City QB Trent Egan connected with Brandon Naeseth from six yards out to give the Hi-Liners a 22-21 lead with 2:22 remaning in the half.

Any thoughts Valley City had of a halftime advantage were swept away seconds later.

The speedy Jenson took the ensuing and dashed up the middle of the field to paydirt. The return covered 85 yards and Austin Pearson’s PAT gave the Firebirds a 28-22 advantage after the first two periods.

It was a lead Devils Lake would never relinquish.

Jenson added two more scores in the third period and Pearson added another as Devils Lake virtually put the game out of reach and led 49-22 heading into the final eight minutes.

Jenson, who had three touchdowns on the night, scored on a two-yard plunge at 10:54 of the third period and followed that up with a 42-yard scoring pass from Beau Eriksson moments later to increase Devils Lake’s advantage in the season opener.

Eriksson hooked up with Pearson five minutes later from 16 yards out to close the scoring for Devils Lake in the period.

The two teams traded scores in the final quarter.

Jenson, who scored on 65-yard run for the first TD of the season for Devils Lake, finished the night with 204 yards of total offense. He rushed 16 times for 162 yards (10.1 ypc) in addition to the 42 yards on the pass from Eriksson.

Sam Desai also had a big night out of the backfield as he rushed 12 times for 93 yards as the Firebirds amassed 310 yards on the ground on 46 carries and finished with 441 yards of offense.

Eriksson completed five of 11 passes for 126 yards and three touchdowns for the Firebirds. Eriksson, a senior, found Tanner Hoffmeyer from 27 yards out in the second quarter for his first scoring toss of the 2010 season. He also scampered in from one-year out later in the quarter.

Austin Nelson scored the final points of the game when he ran in from nine yards out in the fourth quarter.

Devils Lake’s defense limited Valley City to 278 yards of offense on the night. The Hi-Liners rushed 29 times for 92 yards and added 186 yards through the air against a young and inexperienced Firebird secondary that promises to improve as the season progresses.

Devils Lake will open the home portion of its 2010 season on Friday when the Firebirds entertain Grafton. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Roller Field.

Scoring Summary

Devils Lake     7     21     21     7 — 56

Valley City      8    14      0       8 — 30

First Quarter

VC - Trent Egan 29 run (Joey Halgrimson pass from Egan), 8:32.

DL - Kole Jenson 65 run (Austin Pearson kick), 5:02.

Second Quarter

VC - Halgrimson 66 pass from Egan (Egan run), 9:14.

DL - Tanner Hoffmeyer 27 pass from Beau Eriksson (Pearson kick), 8:17.

DL - Eriksson 1 run (Pearson kick), 5:44.

VC - Brandon Naeseth 6  pass from Egan (run failed), 2:22.

DL - Jenson 85 kickoff return (Pearson kick), 2:12.

Third Quarter

DL – Jenson 2 run (Pearson kick), 10:54.

DL – Jenson 42 pass from Eriksson (Pearson kick), 6:37.

DL – Pearson 16 pass from Eriksson (Pearson kick), 1:48.

Fourth Quarter

VC – Halgrimson 10 pass from Egan (Egan run),

DL – Austin Nelson 9 run (Pearson kick).

Team Statistics

        DL    VC

Rushing         46-310    29-92

Passing        6-12     12-29

Pass Yards    131    186

Had Intercepted         0      1

Total Offense    441    278

Individual Statistics

Rushing: Devils Lake – Kole Jenson 18-162, Sam Desai 12-93, Austin Nelson 5-52, Austin Pearson 1-5, Rielly Morken 1-3, Beau Eriksson 7-1, Nate Mertens 2- (-6)

Passing: Devils Lake – Beau Eriksson 5-11-126; Nate Mertens 1-1-5

Receiving: Devils Lake – Tanner Hoffmeyer 2-60, Kole Jenson 1-42, Austin Pearson 1-16, Nate Mertens 1-8.