Nov 18, 2019 1:02 AM

Broncos find another way to lose late

Posted Nov 18, 2019 1:02 AM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings had barely moved the ball at all, when they gathered in a humbled locker room after an awful first half.


Picking up the pace with the two-minute offense was about their only hope of a comeback. They delivered one in stunning fashion against the Denver Broncos.


“Suddenly, it just has a different feel to it, and the next thing you know, you’re going,” quarterback Kirk Cousins said.


The Vikings erased a 20-0 halftime deficit with touchdowns on each of their four drives in the second half, fending off the Broncos by forcing three straight incomplete passes in the end zone over the final 10 seconds to preserve a 27-23 victory Sunday.


This was the first time in five years — a span of 100 games including the playoffs — that an NFL team won after trailing by 20 or more points at halftime, though New England did defeat Atlanta in Super Bowl 51 after an 18-point deficit after two quarters grew to 28-3.


“We can’t count ourselves out. We had 30 minutes of football. Was it going to take perfect football? Most likely,” tight end Kyle Rudolph said. “But all we can go out there and do is worry about the first drive, and getting points, and see what happens.”


Cousins went 29 for 35 for 319 yards and three scores for the Vikings (8-3), overcoming a system-wide failure in the first half that included a lost fumble of his during a sack that led to one of three field goals by Brandon McManus for the Broncos (3-7).


Cousins hit Stefon Diggs for a 54-yard touchdown pass that brought the crowd noise to a deafening level and cut the lead to 23-20. McManus went wide right from 41 yards on his fourth attempt, and Cousins found Rudolph wide open for a 32-yard score on the next possession with 6:10 left.


“I like when adversity hits and you see what kind of guys you’ve got,” Diggs said.


Both of those throws by Cousins came off bootleg rollouts to his left, the type of passing play he has long thrived on. After being stymied for just 47 total yards in the first half, the Vikings turned to their hurry-up offense with enviable results.


“Throwing an interception into double coverage is not going to get you back in the game,” Cousins said. “So you take what they give you. You play one play at a time, and you trust that if they give you a shot, you take it.”


Brandon Allen, the fill-in quarterback after the injury to Joe Flacco and the impending debut of rookie Drew Lock, drove the Broncos to the cusp of a comeback of their own with a drive that included three fourth-down conversions.


With first-and-goal from the 4, but only 10 seconds left and no timeouts remaining, Allen had three chances at the winner. Trae Waynes knocked down the first one, Jayron Kearse had a hand on the second and the last try for Noah Fant sailed past the rookie tight end after he and Kearse tussled for position.


The Broncos have not scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter for six straight games. The last team guilty of such a severe second-half collapse was Atlanta on Oct. 26, 2014, when a 21-0 lead at home turned into a 22-21 victory for Detroit. According to Sportradar, this was only the 14th time in NFL history that a 20-plus-point halftime deficit turned into defeat.


“Didn’t sustain any drives,” Allen said, “and that put our defense in a bad spot.”


HORRID HALF


The Vikings punted on their first four possessions and already trailed 10-0 when they finally got a first down. With the deficit at 17-0, Cousins hit Diggs for a 34-yard gain that was wiped out by a holding penalty on left tackle Riley Reiff, who had a particularly difficult time against the pass rush.


On the other side, the Broncos drove 90 yards for their first touchdown, a third-and-goal throw to tight end Troy Fumagalli for his first career score. They spiced up their play calling with repeated success, using a 38-yard reverse pass by Courtland Sutton to fellow wide receiver Tim Patrick. Sutton kept the ball on two more end-around plays during that drive, including a fourth-and-1 run from the 7 to set up their second touchdown.


One break went Minnesota’s way, an ominous end to Denver’s momentum. The kickoff after the field goal that followed the fumble by Cousins was fumbled and lost by Ameer Abdullah at the 17 by Josey Jewell with 60 seconds left. Allen’s pass for Fant on the next play was intercepted by Andrew Sendejo, preventing the Broncos from taking a four-score lead.


“He made a bad throw into coverage, and they picked it,” Broncos coach Vic Fangio said. “That’s one of those where you almost in hindsight maybe we should have just ran it three times and got our three points and been happy. But you would have roasted me if I did that.”


INJURY REPORT


Broncos: FB Andy Janovich, who bulled his way into the end zone on a third-and-goal run from the 1 in the second quarter, hurt his elbow while being tackled at the end of a short reception and did not return.


Vikings: SS Harrison Smith hurt his hamstring in the fourth quarter and didn’t return. LB Ben Gedeon suffered a concussion in the first quarter and was done for the day. Four other starters were already inactive: Adam Thielen, RG Josh Kline (concussion), NT Linval Joseph (knee) and FS Anthony Harris (groin).


UP NEXT


Broncos: Facing a stretch of four road games in five weeks that began in Minnesota, the Broncos play at Buffalo next Sunday. They’ve lost their last two road games against the Bills in 2017 and 2011.


Vikings: After the second-latest bye week on the schedule in team history — in 1991, they were off the weekend of Dec. 1 — the Vikings return to action on Dec. 2 at Seattle. This is their second straight year with a Monday night game on the road against the Seahawks in December.

Continue Reading Panhandle Post
Nov 18, 2019 1:02 AM
"This is our bowl game" Coach Long and CSC ready to face undefeated Orediggers Saturday

By: Con Marshall

CSC Sports Information


CHADRON, Neb. -- November 14, 2019 -- The Chadron State College football team will wrap up its season Saturday at home with a special challenge. The Eagles will host what apparently is one of the best NCAA Division II teams in the nation--Colorado School of Mines. The finale will kick off at noon.


At 10-0 the mighty Orediggers are one of 11 undefeated teams in the division and have not been challenged by most of their opponents. They are ranked seventh in this week's American Football Coaches Association poll and lead the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference in virtually every important statistical category.


"This is our bowl game," said CSC Head Coach Jay Long. "We know they're a great team. We'll give it everything we've got and see what happens."


The Eagles are 6-4 for the season after winning five games in a row.


The Orediggers' closest game was last Saturday, when they topped Dixie State 35-27 by scoring what proved to be the winning touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. The Trailblazers finished with 447 yards of total offense and Mines with 403. 


For the season, Mines has tallied 428 points and the opponents 146. Aside from the Dixie State game, the Orediggers' closest contest was their 34-14 decision over Colorado State-Pueblo on Sept. 21.


Two weeks ago, South Dakota Mines, the pesky team that the Eagles edged 53-48 a week ago, fell to the Orediggers by 21 points--49-28--in Rapid City.


Besides leading the RMAC in both scoring offense and defense, Mines is tops in the conference in total offense (490.1 yards a game), total defense (256.6), rushing offense (260.4), rushing defense (51.8), first downs (25.8), opponents' first downs (14.2), third down conversions (44.7 percent), opponents' third down conversions (23.1) and time of possession (33.50 minutes).


Chadron State is second to the Orediggers in the RMAC in three of the offensive categories--scoring offense (38.0 points), total offense (468.5) and first downs (24.3)--but is down a ways on most of the defensive listings. 

For instance, the Eagles are eighth in total defense (387.9) and rushing defense (172.2) and sixth in opponents' first down (18.9).


"We've been playing better defense, but we know we'll have to play better than ever on Saturday if we're going to shut them down," said CSC Defensive Coordinator Craig Jersild. "They've got both a great running game and a great passing game. We're going to have our hands full, that's for sure."


The Orediggers generally prefer to run the ball.


During the first half of the season, they leaned on Cameron Mayberry, a 5-11, 210-pound senior who in 2018 led the RMAC in rushing with 1,584 yards (a 6.5 yard average) and 22 touchdowns. He was going strong again the first half of this season, gaining 636 yards through five games for a 6.0-yard per carry average and eight TDs.


But Mayberry was injured early in the second quarter of the sixth game. His replacement, Michael Zeman, a 5-11, 210 pound sophomore from Wheat Ridge, Colo., also has excelled. 


Zeman has rushed 132 times for 1,064 yards, an 8.1-yard average, and scored 10 TDs. He's had two spectacular games. He ran for 298 yards during the 49-27 win over Azusa Pacific on Oct. 26 and then set the Mines' single-game record by rumbling for 321 yards the next week at South Dakota Mines.


Last Saturday, Zeman carried 22 times for 183 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown jaunt, against Dixie State.  


A year ago, when the Orediggers were 10-1, losing only to Dixie State during the regular season, they brought in senior transfer Isaac Harker from Indiana State to play quarterback. He responded by completing 67.8 percent of his passes for 3,573 yards and 38 touchdowns in those 11 games.


This year's quarterback is a true freshman, John Matocha, a 5-11, 180-pound Magnolia, Texas, native. His passing totals don't match Harter's, but he's connected on 195 of 264 attempts for an amazing 73.4 completion percentage for 2,109 yards and 23 TDs.  


Matocha also can run with the ball. He's carried 107 times for 535 yards and scored 10 times.


"He's a true dual threat," Jersild said of Matocha. "He's a terrific runner and also throws lots of screen passes to lull you to sleep before throwing a long one over the top." 


The Eagles also have a potent offense. Their 468.5-yard total offense average is the second highest in Chadron State annals. Quarterback Dalton Holst needs just 135 more yards to become the Eagles' first 3,000-yard passer in a season, but Offensive Coordinator Logan Masters said CSC has to be able to run the ball, too, on Saturday.


"They're (Mines) only giving up 51.8 yards a game on the ground to lead the nation, so we'll have to execute really well to get our rushing game going," Masters noted. "But we're going to try."


While the Eagles lead Mines 23-18 in the all-time series, the Orediggers have won the last six games in the rivalry. Last year's score was 49-20 in Golden.