Bears can’t keep up with Cougars
All night long it was hard fought game, but in the end it was the Mankato East Cougars who prevailed as they took advantage of a long interception return to score the game-winning touchdown and beat Byron 35-28.
Byron Head Coach Ben Halder said he was pleased with how the Bears came out in the first quarter.
“We played with a sense of purpose to begin the game. The coaching staff was very happy,” he said.
He mentioned that his offense did a good job executing the game plan on Byron’s first touchdown drive.
“We played well at every position and executed our assignments,” he said.
Halder said he told his team during halftime to keep doing what they were doing.
“To keep pounding the stone. We felt like we were playing well and needed to continue to do that,” he said.
In the second half, Byron used a long pass to Ben Stienessen to get into the redzone and on the very next play Freerksen punched it in to tie the game at 21.
Mankato East responded with their own long touchdown pass, and then got an interception return deep into Byron’s territory which led to another quick touchdown.
However, that two touchdown lead didn’t last long, as Austin Freerksen returned a kick-off about 85 yards for a Bears touchdown, to bring Byron within seven points, 35-28.
“It was a huge kick-off return. It got us some momentum back,” Halder said.
Another momentum-shifter was the Bears’ defense stepping up in the fourth quarter and giving the offense one last chance to tie the game.
“Each player executed their assignment well and trusted what we were doing and calling,” he said.
Halder was also impressed by the perseverance the Bears displayed by converting two fourth downs to keep their final drive going,
“Our kids are resilient and always believe we are still in the game. It is a great quality we posses,” he said.
However, Mankato East got two big sacks in the final minute of the game to preserve their victory.
Despite the loss, Halder was happy with how the Bears played.
“I though we played well in all three phases and will continue to need to do so in order to have a chance to win,” he said.
To have a better shot at winning, he said the Bears will have to take better care of the ball so they don’t turn it over four times like they did against Mankato East.
Byron (2-2) will have to limit their turnovers as they have a tough road matchup against Kasson-Mantorville (2-2) at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 27.
Byron Stats: Passing - Andrew Scheuer was 13 of 23 for 114 yards and 3 INTs while Travis Underwood was 1 for 1 for 32 yards. Rushing - Austin Freerksen had 19 carries for 128 yards and 3 TDs, plus 1 kick return for 85 yards and 1 TD. Receiving - Ben Stienessen had 6 receptions for 83 yards