TABOR - The Fremont-Mills football team rode the momentum of two blocked punts and 286 yards rushing to a 44-7 season-opening victory over Shenandoah on Friday.
“Some things stood out that didn't go as we planned, but overall for the game, 44-7, that's a pretty solid game,” said Knights coach Jeremy Christiansen following the win.
The Knights' “pretty solid game” started quickly. After holding the Mustangs to a three-and-out on their first possession, Fremont-Mills drove down to
the Shenandoah two-yard line but failed to convert on a fourth-and-goal. But Christiansen's gamble to go for it on fourth down would pay off three plays later when Zach Desormeaux knifed through the Shenandoah line and blocked a punt that Derrian Bredberg gobbled up in the end zone for the touchdown.
The Knights' special team dominance would continue on the Mustangs next possession when they blocked another punt, this time by Joey Carlson, which was recovered on the Shenandoah two-yard line. Three plays later A.J. Scarborough would score his first of two touchdowns on the night.
Strong special team play was a key emphasis for Christiansen and his team during fall camp.
“It's something we want to focus on. It's definitely something we try to do - it's a game-changing type play. It worked out pretty well tonight,” he said.
After Shenandoah got its first of just three first-half first downs, the Knights' defense stiffened again to force a punt. After a nice return by Scarborough out to the 40-yard line, the 160-pound sophomore tailback would finish the drive two plays later when he sliced through the line and raced 60 yards down the sideline for a 22-0 lead with 8:21 to go in the half.
Throughout the game, the Knights quick, physical defensive line dominated the Mustangs upfront. Shenandoah's first three possessions of the game netted them minus-three yards and they amassed just 97 total yards for the game. Knight defensive ends Nate Meier and Bredberg combined for 29 tackles and five tackles for loss.
“Defensively we did a very good job,” said Christiansen. “I don't have the stats but we had two blocked punts. Offensively, our line did a great job. We did a lot of “three yards and a cloud of dust' type of thing and pop some big plays.”
The Knights unveiled their new version of the spread offense in the game. Utilizing the traditional shotgun set with the quarterback seven yards behind the center and a shorter, “pistol” shotgun set with the quarterback four yards behind the center and the tailback three yards behind, the Knights mixed in a strong inside running and the option to get to the edges.
“We ran a little hybrid type thing. It's working out pretty well so far,” said Christiansen.
The Knights 286 rushing yards was its best in two seasons. Scarborough finished with a game high 113 yards and two scores on 11 carries. Meier, a 210-pound fullback, ran for 68 yards, including a rumbling 55 yard touchdown run. Quarterback Austin Hansen completed 4-of-9 passes for 76 yards, hooking up with Bredberg on a 33-yard scoring strike and rushing for 68 yards.
The one bad thing Christiansen saw from his new offense?
His team's three turnovers.
“That would definitely be a negative,” he said.
FM 16 12 16 00 - 44
S 00 07 00 00 - 7
FM - Derrian Bredberg, fumble return (conversion good), 8-0.
FM - A.J. Scarborough, 1 run (conversion good), 16-0.
FM - Scarborough, 60 run (conversion failed), 22-0.
FM - Austin Hansen to Bredberg, 33 pass (conversion failed), 28-0.
S - Kyle Sparks to Casey Wright, 24 pass (kick good), 28-7.
FM - Nate Meier, 55 run (conversion good), 36-7.
FM - Hansen, 63 run (conversion good), 44-7.