The TGU football team handed Surrey its first lost of the 2012 season. Now, the Titans have the opportunity to eliminate the Mustangs from the postseason when the teams meet Saturday in Towner in the second round of the 9-man playoffs.
TGU kicked off its season with a 26-18 victory against Surrey on Aug. 25 at Herb Parker Stadium and hasn't looked back, winning all nine of its games this season.
The key to the Titans' success on both sides of the ball has been their lineman. Junior Luke Bacon anchors the line at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds alongside seniors Reed Hermanson (6-foot-2, 230 pounds) and Tyler Mongeon (6-foot-2, 240 pounds). Bacon leads the team with 76 tackles.
Surrey coach Lyall Krueger stressed the importance of the line play.
"Any time you can win the line of scrimmage, that's the ballgame," he said. "It allows you to control the ball and control the clock."
The play of the TGU linemen has made life easy for sophomore quarterback Eli Luna this season. He has thrown for 922 yards and 13 touchdowns and rushed for 778 yards and 10 touchdowns. On special teams, Luna has 584 combined return yards and has converted 21 extra points.
"We know we have to keep him in the pocket," Krueger said. "We have to keep pressure on him. I don't know if you can stop him, but we have to contain him."
Surrey's offense will be without junior running back Bryan Dye, who left Saturday's game against Central McLean with a knee injury. Krueger confirmed that Dye will not return for the remainder of the playoffs. Senior Reiley Steier and junior Jordan Wenstad split carries against TGU behind fullback Tayler Wallstrum, who rushed for 193 yards on 42 carries.
"They're a big, physical team," Bacon said. "They control the clock very well. We just have to come in and play our game and hopefully come out with the win."
Despite not having their top running back, the Mustangs still have 6-foot-5, 335 pound senior Holden Hartley on the offensive line to create running lanes for Wallstrum, Steier and Wenstad.
"(Surrey) is one of the few teams in the state that matches up with us size-wise," TGU coach Scott Thorson said. "It's certainly a worry for us."
The Mustangs held the Titans to a season-low 26 points in their first meeting by using the running game to control the clock.
"They do nothing fancy," Thorson said. "They just run the ball right at you and we have to fix some things to try and stop that."
Surrey proved it can win on the road, posting a 4-1 record away from home, including Saturday's 28-26 first-round victory at Central McLean.
"It's a big boost for us," Krueger said. "It's a matter of our senior leadership coming through."
TGU has yet to be challenged at home, winning its five games by an average of 30.5 points. The Titans haven't allowed a visiting team to score more than 20 points and have outscored their last two opponents 95-6.