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Gone in 60 seconds: Broncos lose shutout, game in final minute of home debut

(Tribune photo by Rand Middleton) West Central Bronco linebackers Kyle Weinandt, left, and Erick Johnson descend on Twin Cities Titans running back Darnell Lee for no gain in the third quarter Saturday at Hodapp Field in Willmar.

WILLMAR — The Twin Cities Titans waited until the game’s last minute to post points but that was enough to stun the West Central Broncos 6-3 in Midwest Premier League Football on Saturday evening.

Except for Tyree Jones’ zigzag 20-yard scoring run, the 341 paid fans at Hodapp Field seemed to enjoy every moment. On the chilly evening, they were still cheering the defensive feats, which included provoking something like eight turnovers in the brisk 2 hour and 30 minute game.

It was the home debut of the new West Central Broncos. Sharply-outfitted in navy-blue pants, jerseys and helmets, the young men played good, honest, hard-hitting football, evenly matched with the Titans (3-1), who finished 8-3 in 2012.

Neither team could mount a passing offense, a factor of both the north wind and perhaps only a single practice a week to work on timing.

The Broncos’ main weapon was former Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg star Joel Bauman, whose jitterbugging runs generated 138 rushing yards and delighted the folks in the west stands.

Tarrell McDuffie also had some nice runs. Each got the ball on handoffs from quarterback Steve Peppin, the team’s co-owner who was a two-way end for the Ridgewater Warriors a half-dozen years ago.

The Broncos’ defense had a great day but for the final minutes. Repeatedly, they turned back the Titans and forced six turnovers and made seven sacks, four from Erick Johnson.

Kean Thomas booted a 20-yard field goal in the second quarter and it looked like that would stand up until the end.

The defense stopped the Titans near midfield with three minutes left in the fourth. The Titans used their time outs and stopped Bauman on fourth and two at the 50 to take over with about two minutes left.

Jones immediately hit a sideline pass for a 15-yard gain. Slipping out of the pocket, he ran to the Broncos’ 20. On the next play, he rolled right, then cut back and sailed to the end zone untouched.

The Broncos’ last gasp ended with an intercepted halfback pass.

The teams gathered at midfield after the hand shake, perhaps sharing a feeling of gratitude that they still have an opportunity to play a game they came to love as youngsters.

Titans 6, Broncos 3

Broncos (3-1)     0 0 0 6 — 6

Broncos (1-3)     0 3 0 0 — 3

Broncos – Kean Thomas 20 field goal

Titans – Tyree Jones 30 run (kick fail)

Willmar Statistics

Rushing yards: Joel Bauman 138, Tarrell McDuffie 76 … Interceptions: Chaz Powell 1, Ben Sletta 1, Brandan Torry 1 … Fumble recoveries: Sletta 1, Erick Johnson 1, Powell 1 … QB sacks: Johnson 4, Jon Lankenau 1.5, Kyle Weinandt 1, Patricio Lopez 0.5

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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