Mavericks mauling

MLS football topples TGU 48-18 to kick off 9-man season

Alex Eisen/MDN MLS quarterback Nate Beha (4) celebrates after a one-yard touchdown sneak in the first quarter against TGU.

TOWNER — Shutting down senior running back Shayden Luna and Towner/Granville/Upham’s offensive attack, Mohall/Lansford/Sherwood opened the new 9-man season in style with a 48-18 road victory Friday evening in Towner.

The Mavericks’ first-team defense was flying around the field and kept the Titans off the scoreboard.

“A good win to start the season, but still plenty of mistakes and plenty to fix after this one,” MLS coach Cale Peterson said. “We are playing a little bit of a different defense this year with a lot of guys moving around. If you are blocking us man-to-man, it looks pretty confusing. I have run this defense for a long time, so we put it in this year and it looked good.”

MLS (1-0) has now won back-to-back games against TGU (0-1) after losing the previous five meetings. This marked the Mavericks first win in Towner since 2011.

“First time we have beaten these guys here since I joined MLS as a junior high coach,” Peterson said.

Alex Eisen/MDN Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood defensive lineman Charlie Eriksmoen (left) wraps up Towner-Granville-Upham quarterback Garrett Bailey (right) in a 9-man football game Friday night in Towner.

After forcing TGU to punt its opening drive, the Mavericks marched down the field for the opening score. A deep downfield pass from junior quarterback Nate Beha to 6-foot-4 senior Isaac Undlin, who was being double covered, eventually set up a one-yard quarterback sneak by Beha to draw first blood.

Sophomore running back Stetson Helwig ran in the two-point conversion from the seven-yard line after a penalty to grab an 8-0 MLS lead and the only points of the first quarter.

“I felt really good about it and have the team relying on me,” Beha said about getting in to score the first points. “They had trust in my abilities and I was very confident in how the game was going to go after that.”

Beha, rolling out of the pocket, found Undlin in the back of the endzone for a four-yard touchdown strike a minute into the second quarter. They hooked up again on a fourth down and five in the third quarter for a 22-yard touchdown connection.

TGU quarterback Garrett Bailey scored the Titans only points of the first half on an interception return for a touchdown. The senior safety weaved in and out of traffic for the pick-six.

“Oh man, it hurt a lot. I’m not going to lie,” Beha said about throwing the interception. “I thought I had him open and I was very confident in my throw. I saw him pick it off and I told myself I just have to get the tackle now. I got a little bit of my angry out on the tackle.”

A 30-yard touchdown scramble up the middle by Beha and another successful two-point conversion with a Helwig run had the Mavericks up 24-6 at halftime.

After Undlin’s second touchdown catch, Zane Wenstad closed out the third quarter with a 35-yard touchdown run up the right sideline. Helwig kept the Mavericks perfect on two-point conversions to make it 40-6.

The Titans put together their first scoring drive of the game to start the fourth quarter. New quarterback Jared Lovro, who replaced Bailey, picked out Cy Luna over the middle of the field and Luna did the rest for a 38-yard score with 10:22 remaining. The two-point attempt failed, 40-12.

“We are awfully young up front and we started a couple different kids on the offensive line who have never started before,” TGU coach Ben Wollenzien said. “We just got outmatched up front. I think they were bigger than we are and it came down to that.”

Running out the clock, the Mavericks answered five minutes later with a two-yard touchdown run powered in by Helwig, 48-12.

With a running clock against them, the Titans eked out a second consolation touchdown with 18 seconds remaining on a 15-yard pass from Lovro to Shayden Luna. The two-point conversation failed for a third time to cap the final result at 48-18.

“We got a lot of season left,” Wollenzien said. “This isn’t going to define who we are or what we do. It’s a bump in the road and you get back to work.”

MLS has a rare Tuesday night showdown in three days against last year’s 9-man state runner-up Shiloh Christian High School in Mohall.

“We are going to do the best we can to prepare ourselves,” Peterson said. “But, the way we look at it going into these first two games, is we want to get better. If we end up playing Shiloh in the playoffs, at least we have seen them before and know something about them.”

TGU is away against Dunseith next Friday night.

Alex Eisen covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.