Four Winds' offense sputters in 26-14 defeat in home-opener against TGU

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal
TGU and Four Winds line up and shake hands at conclusion of game.

FORT TOTTEN - Although the defense kept it close through the latter part of the second half, Four Winds (0-3) could not cash in on offense and faltered in their home-opener against TGU (2-1), 26-14 on Sep. 3. 

With the loss, Four Winds has started the season 0-3 for the first time since the 2017-18 season. TGU, meanwhile, collected their first regular-season road win since Sep. 18, 2020 (42-20 against Central McLean). 

Although the box score illustrated their third-straight loss by double-digits, Four Winds consistently stayed within TGU's reach from start to finish. After TGU drew first blood within the first five minutes of the game, Four Winds’ quarterback Jayden Yankton capitalized on the roll-out and found the end zone via a pair of double-digit gains less than four minutes later. 

Four Winds' 8-6 lead, however, was quickly extinguished as TGU’s rushing attack, led by Brady Schock, pounded through the front seven and netted TGU a 12-8 lead midway through the second quarter. 

“In the first half, we were right there,” Four Winds Co-Head Coach Mark Bishop said after the game. “There was not a play where we did not have guys around the ball carrier. The fullback they have in No. 44 (Schock) was a hard runner. They got us a few times. For a guy like that, you have to be low on the legs tackling him.”

Four Winds, however, did not go quietly. Despite being without their top rusher in Kelson Keja due to injury, Yankton, in addition to a pair of his younger receiving mates in Adam Charboneau and Deng Deng, were able to connect and find the end zone once more to bring the Indians within two before the first half’s conclusion. Four Winds' 12 points scored were the most in a single game this season (they scored six and eight points against Bottineau and St. John, respectively). 

Even still, a slew of unfinished drives deep in enemy territory prevented Four Winds from doing more damage. 

“We could have, I think, put up 20 to 30 points, but we could not execute on the possessions we should have,” senior quarterback Jayden Yankton said. 

QB Jayden Yankton positions himself behind the offensive line in preparation for a snap.

After missed tackles plagued Four Winds with yet another deficit at the start of the second half, the defense began to find a groove. After the front seven spearheaded by Charboneau held TGU scoreless for the entire third quarter, Four Winds had the opportunity to make late-action noise. However, a pair of Yankton interceptions, coupled with stalled offensive drives, were too much to overcome. 

Despite the loss, both Bishop and Yankton have optimism that both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball will only build on the momentum as region play begins. 

“Knowing we can play with these guys just gives us momentum to know we can come out of our region and go to the playoffs,” Yankton said. 

“One thing we coach is filling the cup,” Bishop said. “We want three guys on the ball and making open-field tackles, especially on strong guys like that. That is hard to do. We tried to get three to four guys to tackle and help each other out, and we did not do that very often in the first half, and it showed. In the second half, that was what we talked about. We needed everyone to flood the ball...all nine guys trying to get to the ball so that he had nowhere to go. I feel like we did that better in the second half.” 

Four Winds will take to the road and face off against their first Region 3 opponent in Nelson County on Sep. 9 at 7:00 p.m.