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Midgets top Mandan behind Steffan-to-Moody connection

MANDAN -- Each time Mandan inched within a manageable deficit in its homecoming matchup with Dickinson High on Friday night, the Braves were haunted by the same three words: Steffan to Moody.

MANDAN - Each time Mandan inched within a manageable deficit in its homecoming matchup with Dickinson High on Friday night, the Braves were haunted by the same three words: Steffan to Moody.

Dickinson's combination of quarterback Shawn Steffan and wide receiver Aanen Moody hooked up for a total of four touchdowns. Strikes from 37, 20, 79 and 36 yards out accounted for four of the six Midget scores, and proved too much for Mandan to handle in a breezy 42-28 victory for Dickinson.

According to Steffan, the attack through the air was all part of the plan entering the game.

"We knew that Mandan was going to come out in a Cover Zero," said the quarterback, who finished with five passing touchdowns. "So with how athletic Aanen is, most of my throws were just a matter of making the right play."

The Braves ran the Cover Zero - a defensive formation which relies on man-to-man coverage - for most of the night, and it left Steffan free to drop back and pick apart the defense.

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"We knew that if we were able to block up some of their blitzes, we would have some chances to make some plays down the field," said head coach John Tuchscherer. "I thought our guys did a really nice job of giving Shawn some time to step into his throws, and when we gave him time he was able to complete those throws down the field."

Dickinson scored the first two touchdowns of the game - a 1-yard run in the first quarter by Treven Hopfauf and Moody's first touchdown catch in the second quarter - before the Braves' defense scored on a play that many on the Dickinson sideline questioned.

In a bang-bang play, a Mandan defender knocked the ball from Moody's hands on a screen pass, so Quinn Halstengard scooped up the football and returned it 44 yards for a score.

Moody did not appear to have possession of the ball long enough for it to be a fumble, but the refs allowed the play.

That made it 14-7, until a few possessions later, when Moody's second touchdown catch of the day put the Midgets ahead two scores, grabbing back the momentum and deflating the Mandan sideline.

"They had a really good crowd. We knew coming in with their homecoming and everything they were going to be excited and ready to play," Tuchscherer said. "Our guys responded well right out the gates and were able to sustain that."

The Braves were again able to pull within seven on a 79-yard run for Dale Spilman to begin the half, but like clockwork, the same duo buried Mandan on the very next drive.

For a third time, Steffan found Moody. This time, Moody caught the ball nearly out of bounds at midfield, danced along the sideline, cut it back toward the middle of the field and finished the 79-yard pass and catch. That made it 28-14; the Braves would score a few touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but at that point the final 12 minutes were a formality. Hopfauf also caught a 9-yard pass for a score in the third quarter to cap Dickinson's scoring.

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"That was a really fun game, I felt kind of like a fantasy football receiver," Moody said. "We always practice on that fade route. We always have good chemistry with it. With their Cover Zero - press corners with no help over the top - that was open all game so we just took advantage of it."

 

Dickinson High 42, Mandan 28

D 7 14 21 0 - 42

M 0 7 7 14 - 28

First quarter

D - Treven Hopfauf 1 run (Cam Jorda kick), 7:10

Second quarter

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D - Aanen Moody 37 pass from Shawn Steffan (Jorda kick), 9:45

M - Quinn Halstengard 44 yard fumble return (Sam Bussman kick), 7:18

D - Moody 20 pass from Steffan (Jorda kick), 1:09

Third quarter

M - Dale Spilman 79 run (Ian Dahners kick), 10:29

D - Moody 79 pass from Steffan (Jorda kick), 8:55

D - Moody 26 pass from Steffan (Jorda kick), 4:47

D - Hopfauf 9 pass from Steffan (Jorda kick), 1:23

Fourth quarter

M - Kaden Krause 1 run (Bussman kick), 11:34

M - Isaac Watson 36 pass from Krause (Dahners kick), 1:57

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