Rebel rebound: Southland intercepts five passes en route to a win over Burros
Published 10:24 pm Friday, August 25, 2023
ADAMS – Things started on a sour note for the Southland football team, but the Rebels showed how much they’ve grown in the past year as they bounced back and beat Lanesboro 21-6 in a zero week season opener Friday night.
Three unfortunate first quarter plays put Southland in an early hole. The Rebels lost a fumble at Lanesboro’s 35 yard-line on their first possession of the game, the Burros answered with a 65-yard TD pass from Mason Howard to Michael Rein, and Southland’s following drive ended on a turnover on downs at Lanesboro’s six-yard line.
That slow start might have brought Southland down last year, but this year the team turned it around and dominated the final three quarters — picking off five passes while making big offensive plays of their own. Southland senior quarterback Noah Bauer hit Jack Bruggeman for a 46-yard strike to make it 14-6 and he found Andrew Timm on a nine-yard score on fourth and six to make it 21-6 with 3:16 left in the third quarter.
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“Last year we had to deal with so much adversity,” Southland head coach JJ Galle said. “The nice part about bringing all of our guys back is they had to experience it all last year and they learned from it. I’m super proud of the boys. They are the ones who turned it around with all of their Saturday workouts in the offseason. They’ve worked together and they’ve had a great attitude.”
Southland (1-0 overall) took the lead for good when Royce Jax plunged for a one-yard TD that put the Rebels up 7-6 with 27 seconds left in the half. Royce, a sophomore, also made a tackle for a loss to stop Lanesboro on a fourth and one, he hauled in a one-handed interception, and registered a sack.
“Last year I took a lot of hits from the opposing teams,” Royce said. “I decided I was going to put in the work in the offseason and everyone did it with me. I feel a lot bigger and a lot more confident this season.”
Royce’s older brother Riley added two interceptions as the Southland secondary made a strong recovery after allowing completions of 65- and 41-yards on two of Lanesboro’s first three passing attempts of the game.
“We’ve been harping on discipline and then we had a missed coverage (early),” Galle said. “We talked about it, especially at halftime, of being disciplined and communicating. We also had a broken coverage in the second half on one of Riley’s picks, but he made a great play flying at the ball. When Riley’s playing on cloud nine like that, he’s one of our best players.”
The Rebels were a little bit undersized up front but senior Travis Kirtz threw his weight around in the middle of the pile on offense and defense. He left the game with cramps in the fourth quarter, but his impact was felt.
“It’s fun being out there as a team,” Kirtz said. “I took some big hits, but we all take big hits. We never back down and we all go at it on the next play. It pays off.”
Southland has already matched its win total from last year, when it struggled to close out games. The Rebels showed how much they’ve grown throughout the win on Friday, especially when they were able to keep the Burros scoreless in the second half.
“We knew we had the talent and we worked hard all summer,” Kirtz said. “We had to learn to finish games and play through the second half. We knew we could get it done.”
Lanesboro 6 0 0 0 – 6
Southland 0 7 14 0 – 21
(L) Michael Rein 65 pass from Mason Howard (pass failed) (1 play, 65 yards) 4:43
(S) Royce Jax 1 run (Noah Bauer kick) (5 plays, 32 yards) :27
(S) Jack Bruggeman from Bauer (Bauer kick) (6 plays, 60 yards) 8:20
(S) Andrew Timm 9 pass from Bauer (Bauer kick) (5 plays, 72 yards) 3:16
Rushing: Tyson Stevens, 22-for-139; Royce Jax, 6-for-22, TD; Riley Jax, 4-for-10
Passing: Noah Bauer, 4-for-9, 96, 2 TDs
Receiving: Jack Bruggeman, 2-for-70, TD; Andrew Timm, 2-for-26, TD
Defense: Royce Jax, 1 sack, 1 interception; Riley Jax, 2 interception; Sam Boe, 1 interception; Tyson Stevens, 1 interception; Brad Lagerstedt, 1 sack