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Week 3: Defense delivers against Apple Valley

The Tigers force one of five Apple Valley fumbles during Thursday night's 28-21 victory.

Last week the Farmington football team proved it could win when it ended its 15-game losing streak with a 56-27 rout of Eastview.

On Thursday night, the Tigers showed they could win in a multitude of ways. With the spread offense that produced 500-plus yards against Eastview slowed down by turnovers and poor execution, the Tiger defense stepped to the forefront in a 28-21 victory over Apple Valley at Tiger Stadium.

The Tiger defense forced Apple Valley into a pair of fumbles in its final two possessions shortly after the Eagles had scored three touchdowns in a span of 2 ½ minutes to tie the game at 21-21 early in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Kole Hinrichsen followed up Tanner Sundt’s recovery with a go-ahead nine-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Siegler with 6:26 to go and Mason Hawkins’ takeaway halted Apple Valley’s final drive at the FHS 35-yard line with 2:53 left.

The Tiger defensive unit also got in on the scoring thanks to Mitch Grengs’ fumble recovery on a dropped punt snap in the end zone that made it 21-0 late in the first half.

“The defense was lights out. We kept putting them in bad situations and they kept making plays,” Farmington coach Adam Fischer said. “It wasn’t always pretty, but we pulled together and found a way when it mattered. It was a good team win for us.”

In all, the game featured nine turnovers. The Tigers gave the ball away four times on two fumbles and two interceptions, and also came up short in several short-yardage situations that led to four more turnovers on downs. Apple Valley’s first turnover, a fumble recovered by Isaac Ferm, set up an eight-yard charge into the end zone by Bassett that gave the Tigers an early 7-0 lead.

Hinrichsen’s first interception gave Apple Valley the ball at the 11-yard line early in the second quarter, but the defense followed with the first of several crucial stops. Another Eagle fumble later in the quarter set the stage for a 47-yard touchdown lob from Hinrichsen to Mitch Fox that made it 14-0. It was Fox’s fourth touchdown in the last two games.

There were no punts and no points scored during the third quarter as three long drives, two by the Tigers and one by Apple Valley, all ended in turnovers on downs. The Eagles finally broke the trend when running back Isaiah Hall turned the corner down the left sideline for a 52-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Two more costly mistakes quickly tied the score. Under pressure, Hinrichsen threw a pass over the middle into traffic that was returned 60 yards for a touchdown. The next drive resulted in a three-and-out and a bad snap gave the Eagles the ball at the FHS 17. A play later, AV’s Kieran McKeag carried the ball across the goal line to tie the score and stun the Tiger Stadium crowd.

The offense responded with its best drive of the game, with runs by Hinrichsen and Bryan Aguliar moving the ball inside the AV 10-yard line before Hinrichsen was hit and lost a fumble. Fortunately for the Tigers, the Eagles fumbled the ball right back on their next play to set up Siegler’s game-winner.

Fischer said he was confident that if his offense was able to avoid the mistakes it had made earlier in the game it would be able to move the ball against the Apple Valley defense in the closing minutes.

“We knew Kole could make some plays. We just weren’t executing early in the game,” he said. “We knew if we executed the way we should that we would be able to finish a drive.”

The Tigers (2-1) will take a winning record into next Friday’s road game at Lakeville North.

Individual stats

Aguilar led a 210-yard ground effort with 103 yards on 22 carries. Hinrichsen added 60 yards on eight carries and Bassett ran it 51 yards, including 15 on a fake punt in the first half.

Hinrichsen completed 13 of 22 passes for 144 yards. Fox caught five balls for 58 yards and Christian Groves, Alex Zitzmann and Aguilar each had two catches.

Bassett paced the defense with 13 tackles. Sundt and Grengs each brought down seven ball-carriers.