Red Dogs tip Diesel by 2 points

05/04/02 Rapid City Journal
KEARNEY, Neb. - The Tri-City Diesel were once again haunted by special teams blunders in a 44-42 loss to Rapid City on Friday night.

"Same book, second chapter," Tri-City coach Leland Skeen said. "We played well enough to win, but we made too many mistakes. ... The two special teams plays made a big difference."

Tri-City (2-5) suffered a similar fate in a 51-48 loss to unbeaten Sioux City last weekend. The Diesel's final chance to score was erased by a fumbled kickoff return in the game's final minute.

The Diesel's (2-5) first mistake against Rapid City occurred when Antonio Conley returned a kickoff for a touchdown with just five seconds remaining in the first half.

The 50-yard jaunt gave the Red Dogs momentum and a 33-21 lead.

"We could do no wrong in the first half," Rapid City quarterback Jason Murdock said. "But probably the biggest play of the game was the kick return right before halftime. If we don't get that, it's a completely different game."

Tri-City's second mistake came late in the fourth quarter and eventually handcuffed the Diesel into attempting a late two-point conversion with the game on the line.

Jimmy Moore fumbled the football while fielding a kickoff and was smothered by a host of Rapid City defenders while recovering the loose ball in the end zone.

Tri-City retained possession at its own 5-yard line, but the Red Dogs were awarded one point for a rouge - similar to a safety when the football is not advanced past the goaline on a kickoff.

"That is a call that only gets made once or twice a season," Skeen said. "Unfortunately it forced our hand late in the game."

The consequences of the ruling didn't reach full light until Diesel quarterback Justin Coleman hit Mitch Ables on a 29-yard scoring toss with 56 seconds left on the clock.

The touchdown pass sparked Tri-City's hopes for a moment, but the Diesel still had to convert a two-point conversion to tie the game at 44. That conversion came up short moments later as running back Sherman Jones failed to catch a swing pass while coming out of the backfield.

Jones was forced into the spotlight after starting running back Dale Van Housen suffered a broken collarbone in the loss to Sioux City. Van Housen, the NIFL's leading scorer with 11 touchdowns, is out for the rest of the season.

"It was a lot like last week," Coleman said. "We drove it down when we had to, but we couldn't punch the two-point conversion in. You have to wonder when we'll get a break. ... It hasn't come yet."

Coleman completed 25 of 36 attempts for 252 yards and four touchdowns, but was forced to leave the game for a series in the fourth quarter with an injured wrist.

Coleman, who took more than his fair share of hits in the pocket, said he brought the punishment upon himself. "This was probably the game I got hit the most in," he said. "But that's just the way I play."

The Red Dogs were led by Murdock who completed 19 of 29 passes for 165 yards and four TDs. Murdock's favorite target proved to be Casey Veenhof, who hauled in seven catches for 70 yards and two touchdowns.

Rapid City 14 19 0 11-44

Tri-City 7 14 7 14-42

RAPID CITY-Ryan Speed 21 pass from Jason Murdock (Aaron Turner kick).

TRI-CITY-Tyrone Thomas 38 pass from Justin Coleman (Darin Tankersley kick).

RAPID CITY-Ryan Speed 3 pass from Murdock (Turner kick).

RAPID CITY-Casey Veenhof 9 pass from Murdock (Turner kick).

TRI-CITY-Mitch Ables 2 pass from Coleman (Tankersley kick).

RAPID CITY-Veenhof 19 pass from Murdock (Turner kick failed).

TRI-CITY-Coleman 1 run (Tankersley kick).

RAPID CITY-Antonio Conley 50 kick return (Veenhof kick failed).

TRI-CITY-Thomas 3 pass from Coleman (Tankersley kick).

RAPID CITY-Johnny Johnson 2 run (Turner kick).

RAPID CITY-Team safety

TRI-CITY-Sherman Jones 2 run (Coleman run failed).

RAPID CITY-Aaron Turner 48 FG

TRI-CITY-Ables 29 pass from Coleman (Coleman pass failed).


Rushing-Yards 21-31 16-38

Passes Att.-Comp.-Int. 29-19-0 36-25-0

Passing Yards 165 255

Total Yards 196 290

First Downs 14 18

Penalties-Yards 12-81 9-68

Kickoff Returns 6-140 7-38

Fumbles-Lost 1-0 2-1

Individual Leaders

RUSHING-RC, Johnny Johnson 7-28, Jesse Adams 4-7. TC, Sherman Jones 9-24, Justin Coleman 5-23.

PASSING-RC, Jason Murdock 19-29-0-165. TC, Justin Coleman 25-36-0-252.

RECEIVING-RC, Casey Veenhof 7-70, Brian Mills 4-37, Ryan Speed 4-36, Johnny Johnson 4-22. TC, Mitch Ables 7-76, Tyrone Thomas 5-66, Greg Albright 5-55, Jermaine Brooks 4-29, Tavares Thompson 2-24, Sherman Jones 2-2.

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