Fremont Bergan overcame a mistake on the opening kickoff to knock off Stanton 27-14 on Friday night at Heedum Field.
The return man for the Knights was stripped of the ball near midfield and Kadyn Fernau returned it to the Bergan 5. Two plays later, Sutton Pohlman scored on a 2-yard run to put the Mustangs up 7-0 with less than a minute gone in the game.
The Knights also had mistakes last week in a 38-14 loss to Wilber-Clatonia, but on Friday they were able to overcome their miscues.
“Tonight was kind of like last week in that we shot ourselves in the foot a lot,” Bergan coach Seth Mruz said. “Wilber-Clatonia is more seasoned and didn’t make any mistakes. We were fortunate that Stanton kind of shot themselves in the foot as they are a young team, too. We were able to recover as the night went on and made plays.”
The Knights responded on their first offensive series. Quarterback Jake Ridder led Bergan on an eight-play, 51-yard march. The big play was a 22-yard pass from Ridder to Eli Herink on fourth-and seven from the Stanton 38.
Three plays later, Ethan Villwok scored on a 3-yard run. Jobe Sullivan’s conversion made it 7-7 with 7:25 left in the opening quarter.
Stanton drove to the Bergan 6 on its next series, but a Mustangs’ penalty and a pass breakup by Jackson Gilfry helped Bergan get the ball back on downs.
Ridder guided the Knights on a 10-play, 85-yard scoring march. Villwok started it with a 35-yard run and Ridder connected with Herink for a 34-yard gain. The quarterback covered the final 3 yards to put the Knights up 14-7 heading into halftime.
Stanton fumbled away the second-half kickoff, but the Knights fumbled it right back two plays later. Bergan also lost another fumble later in the quarter that was ran back for a touchdown, but a penalty negated the play.
“We’ve learned how to handle adversity pretty well,” Mruz said. “I wish we wouldn’t have to go through it. We have to stop putting ourselves in that position, but we have young, inexperienced kids and it is a growing process.”
Pohlman’s second TD — a 1-yard run with 6:24 left in the third quarter — tied it at 14, but Bergan answered with a nine-play, 63-yard drive. Sophomore Shea Gossett had a crucial 13-yard catch on fourth-and-four.
That helped set up Ridder’s 3-yard TD with 1:48 left in the third quarter.
Freshman Chris Pinales showed his running skills on Bergan’s final scoring drive. He had runs of 27 and 18 yards on a 75-yard march. He covered the final 2 yards.
“He is working harder in practice and has earned that,” Mruz said. “We need him to come in and give Ethan a break. I was pleased that our guys up front were a little more physical (than Stanton). I was proud of that.”