Football: Three-touchdown lead disappears as Tigers fall to MayoA fast start and a career night from junior quarterback Darren Beenken weren’t enough to get Farmington a victory in its season opener Friday night in Rochester. Beenken threw for four touchdowns and helped the Tigers build a 21-0 lead by the middle of the second quarter, but Rochester Mayo responded with five straight touchdown drives and came from behind for a 35-28 victory over its Section 1AAAAA rivals.
By: Matt Steichen, The Farmington Independent
A fast start and a career night from junior quarterback Darren Beenken weren’t enough to get Farmington a victory in its season opener Friday night in Rochester.
Beenken threw for four touchdowns and helped the Tigers build a 21-0 lead by the middle of the second quarter, but Rochester Mayo responded with five straight touchdown drives and came from behind for a 35-28 victory over its Section 1AAAAA rivals.
“We had a chance to win that football game. We talked at halftime about finishing the game and we still need to learn how to do that,” Farmington head coach Mark Froehling said. “We didn’t come out victorious, but we played tough to the end. We looked effective on offense, defense and special teams, for the most part. There were just some problems with consistency.”
That inconsistency showed in the second half. An offense that struck for 171 yards and three touchdowns through the air in the first half couldn’t keep a drive going, and a defense that shut the Spartans out over the first 20 minutes allowed five scores in the next 20.
“Our defense made lots of good stops in the first half. I think they wore down a bit in the second half and just came out a little flat,” Froehling said. “Our offense didn’t move the ball in the third quarter and the offense shares in the effectiveness of the defense. We needed to do a better job of staying on the field and giving the defense a rest.”
The Spartans (1-0) led 35-21 before the Tigers responded with a three-play, 56-yard drive in the final minute. Beenken found receiver Austin Bassett for an eight-yard score, giving him a career-high four touchdowns to go along with 225 yards passing and 32 yards rushing.
Two of those scores went to senior wideout Nathan Graham, who finished with six catches for 112 yards. He hauled in touchdowns of six and 91 yards in the first half. Beenken’s other touchdown was a 38-yard strike to Jake Baskerville.
”With a returning quarterback and a couple returning receivers we thought the offense should be ahead of where we were last year and it was,” Froehling said. “Our pass protection was pretty good and we caught the ball pretty well. We still need to improve our running game so we can control the clock.”
Athen Ashton led the ground attack with 10 rushes for 36 yards.
The Tigers open their Missota Conference slate tomorrow night when they travel to Red Wing to face a Wingers team they beat for their their only victory last season. Froehling said establishing the running game and rushing the quarterback will be keys to the game.
“We need to get our blocks on the appropriate guys in our zone running game and on defense we need to build on the things we did well and get good pressure on the quarterback,” Froehling said. “We just need to do things consistently and that comes with experience. We’re going to be young all year, but we won’t be inexperienced all year.”
Sophomore Reid Taubenheim made all four extra points in his varsity debut … Ryan Schoening led the defense with nine tackles. Blake Weinand added eight, Mason Auge had seven and Alex Chadwick and Andrew Peterson each tacked on six ... Peterson recovered a fumble and Denver Robinson had a quarterback sack … Bassett and Dillon Jones each had three catches.