After grabbing their first win of the season their last time out, the NACI Tigers gave the North Division’s strongest team their closest game of the season.
An always-strong Dauphin Clippers squad was able to squeak out the win though, topping Neepawa 32-29.
A complete-team effort was needed by the Tigers to compete with one of the Rural Manitoba Football League’s (RMFL) perennial powerhouses in Dauphin, and NACI got that.
A strong game from the offensive line crew including MacKenzie MacDiarmid, Austin Plett and Chris McKay helped lead the team to 158 yards passing on 4-for-14 throwing and 243 yards rushing on 28 carries.
Meanwhile, the defensive line including Ashton Penner, Layton Dixon and Jacobi Waldner forced Dauphin’s offense and kept the ball in NACI’s hands.
“Our offensive line played a solid game, giving the offense solid blocking and time to run offense,” Tigers football teacher-coach Dale Swanton explained. “The defensive line stopped the rush up the middle and combined for 14 tackles.”
Overall, the defense combined for 43 tackles and one fumble recovery, while the special teams recorded four tackles and a 15-yard punt return for a touchdown scored by Linden Middleton.
Connor Paterson had another strong game in the backfield, registering seven tackles, while the new addition at quarterback, Brenden Cowan, threw for 158 yards and two touchdowns.
Cowan also ran for 101 yards including a three-yard touchdown.
NACI’s other touchdowns came courtesy of receiver Jason Caines who made three catches for 113 yards, including 40 and 43-yard receptions for touchdowns.
The Tigers return to action in Neepawa on Friday against the Southwest Sabres. Start time is 4:30 p.m.
Three games into the season, NACI sits in a three-way tie for second place in the RMFL’s North Division with a one-win, two-loss record. Dauphin is the top team, winning all three of its games to date.