Luverne High School's chances of winning the Class 1A, Region 3 championship look much better following last Friday night's contest.
The Tigers (4-1, 3-0) faced G.W. Long, which is believed to be their biggest regional test of the season, and passed with flying colors as they went on to defeat the visitors 37-6.
"I thought we played well at times, in spurts and in phases of the game," LHS Head Coach Mike DuBose said. "Obviously I'm very pleased with the win, I thought it was a huge region game. I really didn't feel like if G.W. Long beat us that there were two other teams on the schedule that could beat them and that's what it would take for us to have a chance to win the region."
Even though the Tigers were able to capture a convincing win, DuBose was still disappointed in special teams play. He believes the team as a whole still isn't playing up to par.
"We're still not playing as well as we can and should, but that's football," DuBose said. "The most disappointing thing that has been and continues to be a nuisance for us is kickoff and kickoff coverage. We almost gave up two returns for touchdowns, we lost field position and we were offsides one time."
The Tigers' tenacious defense held the Rebels to a mere 112 yards of total offense, which included 76 yards on the ground and 36 through the air.
Luverne's offense, on the other hand, chalked up 368 yards of total offense including 261 yards rushing and 107 yards passing.
"Offensively I thought we did some things really well," DuBose said. "I thought our offensive line played good. I thought that was probably the biggest difference in the game. We were able to establish the running game and Jesse Dixon and Fred Hawkins just did superb jobs of running the football. When you can run the ball on people, you're going to be successful."
Hawkins led the way offensively for the Tigers with 12 carries for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Junior quarterback Ryan Brown finished with one touchdown and one interception.
Luverne took the lead early in the first quarter and never looked back. Following a 47-yard kickoff return by Hawkins, Dixon ran in from 15 yards out. Daniel Brown's PAT was no good, but he later made up for the miss by kicking a 37-yard field goal to give the Tigers a 9-0 lead.
Following three and out series by the Rebels, the Tigers scored on its first play of their ensuring drive when Hawkins raced 79 yards for the score. Pat Parks added the two-point conversion to give Luverne a 17-0 lead at the half.
The Tigers started right where they left off in the first half, scoring on their first possession of the third quarter when Brown connected with Parks on a 13-yard touchdown pass. The PAT failed, but home team was in command, 23-0.
Senior Daniel Norton scooped up a fumble on the first play of G.W. Long's next possession to give the Tigers control once again. Hawkins later added a five-yard touchdown to pad Luverne's lead 30-0.
The Tigers scored their last points of the game with 29.9 second remaining in the third quarter when Dixon scampered into the end zone from six yards out. Daniel Brown's kick was good giving Luverne a huge 37-0 advantage.
"I felt like we could have played a better ballgame," G.W. Long Head Coach Jimmy Payne said. "Luverne is very well coached, big and fast and that makes for a pretty good team."
Luverne will be on the road tomorrow night to take on region rival Beulah. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.