FARGO -- It's easy to be overlooked in an offense with senior running backs Kyle Ashman and Casey Finck.
Cory Umland will never be overlooked again.
The junior rushed for 144 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Verndale Pirates to their 11th state tournament appearance with a 42-14 victory over the top-seeded and previously unbeaten Isle Huskies in the Section 4, Nine-Man final Thursday at the Fargodome.
The second-seeded Pirates (10-0 overall) ran over, around and through Isle, racking up 337 yards on the ground. Umland gathered 104 of those in the first half alone. On the third play from scrimmage the lanky quarterback turned the corner and raced 58 yards for the game's first score.
A 30-yard touchdown pass from Isle's Jason Miller to Jade Casper tied the score at 8-8, but Verndale just kept running.
Ashman's 21-yard touchdown run gave the Pirates a 16-8 first quarter lead.
In Isle's previous nine games they gave up a total of 8 first quarter points.
"That was really crucial because it gets them down right away," said senior Cody Lovelace. "We started out right away, but then they scored right away too, but we didn't give up. We went into halftime 22-8 and that's a good lead for halftime."
Umland kept the offense rolling with a 28-yard touchdown in the second quarter and a 20-yard score on Verndale's first drive of the third quarter.
"They were coming up good on us, sometimes they had nine guys in the box, and we were still blocking them." said Verndale Mike Mahlen. "We didn't plan on running Cory that much. At least not as much as we did. Right away he got that big run, and that's probably his longest run of the year."
The Pirates attempted just six passes, two of those on 2-point conversions. Umland could do no wrong as he completed five of those passes for 80 yards including a 19-yard touchdown strike to Casey Finck to start the fourth quarter.
"We probably should have thrown the ball more, they were playing so tight, but when you're getting three or four yards a run it's hard to throw the ball," said Mahlen.
The Pirate offensive line of seniors Jason Kneisl, Lovelace and junior Brent Mattson and tight ends Wyatt Carr and Eric Bramer prevented Isle from penetrating the line of scrimmage. Verndale finished without a negative play. Aside from a fumble by Finck and four penalties for 35 yards, the Pirates played a near perfect game.
"We knew we had to take them if we wanted to get into the state tournament and they had said how they wanted to beat us on the line, but I think we did it instead this time," said Lovelace.
Verndale held Isle to just 277 yards of total offense. On the season, Isle averaged 553.1 yards a game. They only managed 63 on the ground.
Without the running game Isle was forced to pass and Verndale stopped that too.
"They beat us a couple of times on long pass plays but they didn't beat us on the trick plays," said Mahlen. "We covered that pretty well. The first score they got was a broken coverage. Their quarterback got lose and found an open receiver and the second was just a great throw down the sideline."
Verndale 16 6 6 14 -- 42
Isle 8 0 0 6 -- 14
V-Cory Umland 58 run (Umland run) 10:35
I-Jade Casper 30 pass from Jason Miller (Adam Remer run) 8:01
V-Kyle Ashman 21 run (Josh Richter pass from Umland) 25.8
V-Umland 28 run (run failed) 5:32
V-Umland 20 run (run failed) 4:35
V-Finck 19 pass from Umland (Ashman pass from Umland) 11:42
I-Andy Remer 32 pass from Miller (run failed) 8:15
V-Tyler Fuller 11 run (kick failed) 3:54
Rushes-yards -- V 60-337; I 24-63
Pass-comp-att-int-yds -- V 5-6-0-80; I 13-27-1-197
Total Offense -- V 66-417; I 51-260
Rushing -- V-Cory Umland 20-144, Kyle Ashman 17-95, Casey Finck 10-43, Tyler Fuller 3-20, Tyler Fisher 3-18, Josh Richter 3-5, Tom Adamietz 2-5, David Cannon 1-6, Casey Greer 1-1; I-Adam Remer 8-46
Passing -- V-Umland 5-6-80; I-Miller 13-26-193
Receiving -- V-Eric Bramer 2-40, Finck 1-19, Ashman 1-18, Richter 1-3, I-Andy Remer 5-112
Record -- V 10-0, I 9-1. Next Game -- Verndale hosts winner of Section 1 in Quarterfinal of State nine-man Tournament Friday, Nov. 8.
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