VERNDALE -- Last week, the Verndale Pirates' offense was dormant, producing only 121 total yards against Chokio-Alberta.
Friday, in a Pheasant Conference game against the Hillcrest Academy Comets, Verndale exploded like a time bomb, winning 27-0.
Methodical, time-consuming drives produced 379 yards of offense. Most of that came from the ground attack led by senior captain Jordan Hinkle.
Hinkle ticked his way through the Hillcrest defense until Casey Finck popped in the first score on an over-the-head touchdown grab from Cory Umland.
Verndale Pirates senior running back Jordan Hinkle slipped out of an attempted tackle by Hillcrest Academy's Luke Hansen. Hinkle finished with 27 carries for 131 yards. And Verndale wound up with a 27-0 victory. Story on Page 2B. (Dispatch Photo by Clint Wood)
"It felt good to get going again," said Hinkle about the offense. "One-hundred-twenty-one yards isn't going to beat the fourth-ranked team in the state (Chokio) so it felt good to jump on these guys."
In the second quarter it was back to the ticking and Hinkle. Verndale's first drive started at its 13.
On the drive, Hinkle carried the ball nine times for 43 yards before Mark Ludovissie caught an Umland pass in the corner to make it 14-0. The drive took 16 plays and ate up nearly the entire second quarter.
Hinkle again slowly beat up the Hillcrest defense in the second half. On Verndale's third scoring drive, Hinkle rushed twice for 11 yards before a fresh Kyle Ashman erupted for a 60-yard touchdown run. Ashman scored again in the fourth quarter from four yards out for the final margin.
"It's good that we can bring in other guys and have them score," said Hinkle. "Ashman probably has 15 carries for, I don't know how many yards. He's run for two 80-yard touchdowns so it's good to know that, if I'm still in there and they're keying on me, we can give the ball to another guy and we can score."
Hinkle finished with 27 carries for 131 yards. Ashman collected 99 yards on 11 carries. Umland threw for two touchdown passes on 4-for-9 passing. He finished with 52 yards passing.
"I thought we really ran the ball well," said Verndale head coach Mike Mahlen. "We were running well early and then Kyle Ashman came in with a change of pace and he made some really nice runs.
"It was obvious they were keying on Jordan. Everyone's going to do it. He's a marked guy and when Kyle gets in there the defense lets up a little bit and he finds the hole."
While Verndale's offense was regaining its identity, the defense was its normal self, stopping anything that moves. The Pirates held Hillcrest to just 33 yards rushing and only nine first downs.
Hinkle had an interception, fumble recovery and six tackles. Ludovissie had a fumble recovery and six tackles and Casey Finck forced one of those fumbles and recorded six tackles.
"We wanted to stop (Hillcrest wide receiver Luke) Hanson," said Mahlen. "We double-teamed him every play. We thought we could stop their run inside with one less guy.
"We thought they were going to run the option against us, but we didn't know how they were going to do it. They came out in the option and ran it, which gave us a little problem on their first drive, but we adjusted pretty good."
Hanson finished with just three catches for 37 yards.
Hillcrest 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Verndale 8 6 6 7 -- 27
V-Casey Finck 7 pass from Cory Umland (Hinkle pass from Umland 2:10
V-Mark Ludovissie 12 pass from Umland (pass failed) :30
V-Kyle Ashman 60 run (pass failed) 3:49
V-Ashman 4 run (Finck kick) 3:26
First downs -- V 19, H 9
Rushes-yards -- V 48-307, H 27-33
Pas comp-att-int-yards -- V 4-9-2-52, H 9-22-169
Total offense -- V 379, H
Fumbles-lost -- V 1-0, H 3-2
Penalties-yards lost -- V 7-40, H 3-19
Rushing -- Jordan Hinkle 27-131, Kyle Ashman 11-99, Casey Finck 6-50, Cory Umland 4-27
Passing -- Umland 4-9-52
Receiving -- Hinkle 1-23, Finck 2-17, Mark Ludovissie 1-12
Conference -- V 2-1. Overall -- V 3-1. Next game -- Verndale at Clinton-Graceville 4 p.m. Friday.
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