Loss to Dubuque clouds playoff hopes

By Mark Larsen 2003

After steam rolling their way to a 4-0 start just a short month ago, the Tiger football team is fighting for their playoff lives.

The Tigers, who have dropped three of their last four games, will try to finish the season with a 6-3 record when teh Saints of Cedar Rapids Xavier visit the UNI Dome on Friday.

Fighting short handedness due to suspension and injury, Pat Mitchell’s Tigers were defeated by Dubuque Hempstead 27-10 last Friday.

After digging themselves into an early 14-0 deficit, the Tigers showed signs of life early in the third quarter, only to surrender an 85-yeard touchdown run and two field goals defensively in the second half.

Offensively, the Tigers were led by junior tailback A.J. Manfull who rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown in relief of leading rusher Derek Fourtner. Fourtner, a senior tailback and linebacker, was out with a concussion suffered the previous week. He is expected to return to action on Friday.

This loss to Hempstead followed a 21-15 Homecoming defeat at the hands of Dubuque Wahlert Golden Eagles.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, a victory over the 3-5 Saints will not assure the Tigers of a sixth consecutive playoff berth, as the Tigers will need some help from other conference foes in order to make a playoff berth mathematically possible.

While the Tigers are in unfamiliar waters heading into the regular season finale on Friday, the preparation and mindset will remain the same.

“We’ll prepare and go lay it out there like always, but this whole thing has been very frustrating and tough to deal with,” senior wide receiver and defensive back Brent Dahlstrom said of the Tigers’ recent struggles.

“Regardless of the circumstances or the previous week’s game, you always lace up your shoes and go battle it out just like always,” senior tight end Kyle Blau said.

“Obviously, this losing stretch has been hard on all of us because it was something of us really expected to happen,” junior quarterback Nick Nelson, who has thrown seven touchdown passes this season, said. “But we just need to put our pads on and play like we always do and hope that we can get some help from some other teams.”

Xavier, who started the season 2-1, has struggled as of late, dropping their last four games. The latest was a 14-0 drubbing at the hands of Cedar Rapids Prairie.

The game is set to begin at 7:45 p.m., following the conclusion of the sophomore game.

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