The Brandon-Evansville football team was back to business on Tuesday night, less than a week after its only loss of the fall in the regular-season finale.
The Chargers (8-1) had beaten Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley (2-7) 46-14 during the regular season, and it was much of the same in the Section 4, 9-man quarterfinals. Brandon-Evansville’s first-team defense didn’t give up a touchdown, and the offense was as balanced as they have been all season in a 46-8 win that moves B-E on to the section semifinals on Saturday.
“We came out and knew we had to take care of business,” junior running back Cade Carlson said. “We didn’t want this to be our seniors’ last game. We wanted to keep going and hopefully make a long playoff run. We didn’t want to end tonight is what the thought in our minds was.”
The Chargers dominated from the get-go. Carlson had two total touchdowns and more than 100 yards rushing in the first half alone. That included a 55-yard touchdown run that put B-E up 8-0 after the two-point conversion run from Tanner Bitzan.
Nearly all of the Chargers’ playmakers got in on the act. Senior back Marshall Riedel had two interceptions and a touchdown run in the first half. Quarterback Keagan Schiele had two 12-yard touchdown passes, one each to Tony Schaffran and Tanner Bitzan, and sophomore Tyler Bitzan punched one in from a yard out in the third quarter to make it 46-0.
“It’s a lot of fun when you have weapons like that,” B-E head coach Tim Pattrin said. “Those guys really took it upon themselves to step up as leaders. They knew they wanted to play well and have a good game tonight. Tanner, Keagan, Marshall, Tony -- a bunch of the guys. Then on the line...they all stepped up and played the way seniors should.”
Brandon-Evansville did what it was supposed to do against the seventh seed in the playoffs. Now the Chargers will host a semifinal game on Saturday with a team that is much its equal on paper. Verndale will come to Brandon at 2 p.m. after the Pirates (8-1) dominated Ortonville (3-6) 44-6 in the section opener.
“We’re excited. They’re probably excited,” Carlson said. “It’s going to be a good game, we know that. They got some powerful runners, big and fast and they run the ball pretty well.”
The Chargers and Pirates did not meet in the regular season, but they know all about each other. Verndale has never lost to Brandon-Evansville. That stretch of wins included ending the Chargers’ season in the playoffs four straight years from 2014-2017.
If there’s a mental hurdle to get over for the Brandon-Evansville program, Pattrin feels like this is a group of guys who can do it against the Pirates.
“Over the years, you kind of wonder about that, but the way this team has reacted this year, I think they’re hungry,” he said. “They want to be that team to push the program over the edge and get to where we want to go. They’re going to be ready to go. We know that Verndale isn’t going to back down. They’re a great team, and it’s going to be a fun game on Saturday.”
Like Brandon-Evansville, Verndale has rolled over teams for much of the season. The Pirates’ only loss was in a 42-6 contest against undefeated Hancock on Sept. 20. Since then, they have outscored opponents 206-32 in five straight wins.
“It’s great. We knew this section is a battle and in order to get through everything, you have to go through Verndale at some point,” Pattrin said of a Pirates program that has made 17 state tournaments, including each of the last two years. “I’m glad we have them on our field. We’ll get ready and do what we do.”
Senior Craig Orlando helps make the Pirates go this year. Orlando is a back-to-back heavyweight wrestling champion at the Class A level.
He is listed as a halfback and linebacker for the Pirates football team. He’s a big runner who the Chargers have to find a way to slow down.
Verndale is faced with a similar task of trying to slow this Brandon-Evansville attack. After being held to a season-low six points against Hancock on Oct. 16, the Chargers scored more than 40 for the eighth time this season on Tuesday.
Two teams with explosive offenses and talented defenses will meet on Saturday. It all sets up what should be quite a game with a trip to the section title on the line.
“We scrimmaged them at the beginning of the year, so we’ve seen them a bit,” Pattrin said. “Orlando is a big dude, and he hits and runs the ball hard. They have him at halfback and they move him all over the place. He’s a force on defense. (Sophomore Gideon Ervasti) is pretty good. He’s really aggressive on defense, and offensively he runs hard. They have some playmakers, but we’ve got playmakers too. It’s going to be a great game.”
B-E 16 16 14 0 - 46
CGB 0 0 0 8 - 8
SCORING - FIRST QUARTER - B-E - Cade Carlson 55-yard run; Tanner Bitzan 2-point conversion run; B-E - Marshall Riedel 1-yard run; Keagan Schiele 2-point conversion run
SECOND QUARTER - B-E - Schiele 12-yard pass to Tony Schaffran; Riedel 2-point conversion run; B-E - Schiele 12-yard pass to Tanner Bitzan; Riedel 2-point conversion run
THIRD QUARTER - B-E - Cade Carlson 6-yard run; Schiele 2-point conversion pass to Andrew Perrin; B-E - Tyler Bitzan 1-yard run; Failed conversion
FOURTH QUARTER - CGB - Austin Folk 1-yard run; Chuck Kleindl 2-point conversion pass to Casey Dahl
TOTALS - B-E - Offense - 42-284; Penalties - 3-20; Turnovers - 0; First downs - 15; Time of possession - 27:05; CGB - Offense - 126; Penalties - 1-5; Turnovers - 2; First downs - 8; Time of possession - 19:10
B-E OFFENSE - PASSING - Keagan Schiele - 2-6, 24 yards, 2 TD; RECEIVING - Tanner Bitzan - 1-12, TD; Tony Schaffran - 1-12, TD; RUSHING - Cade Carlson - 7-120, 2 TD; Marshall Riedel - 7-45, TD; Ryland Yeats - 3-30; Tanner Bitzan - 7-23; Schiele - 4-16; Tyler Bitzan - 5-15, TD; John Roers - 2-11
B-E - DEFENSE - Roers - 7.5 tackles; Tanner Bitzan - 4 tackles, 1.5 TFL; Hunter Koep - 4 tackles, 0.5 TFL; Carlson - 3.5 tackles, 0.5 TFL; Mike Cochran - 3.5 tackles, 0.5 sack, 0.5 TFL; Tony Schaffran - 3.5 tackles, 0.5 TFL; Andrew Johnson - 3 tackles, 1 TFL; Kobe Reiland - 3 tackles; Tyler Bitzan - 2 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 0.5 TFL; Kyle Schaffran - 2 tackles; Nathan Baumann - 1.5 tackles; Ryland Yeats - 1 tackle; Luke Moore - 0.5 tackle; Andrew Perrin - 0.5 tackle; Aaron Gillespie - 0.5 tackle; Katrina Buchholz - 0.5 tackle; Erik Bitzan - 0.5 tackle; Riedel - 2 interceptions