9/5/2019 2:18:00 PM North Branch misses opportunities against Mora
Kobe Chouinard gets the ball jarred loose from behind. At far bottom, Ben Nadeau catches the opening touchdown.
Austin Sonnek races around the corner against a Mora defender
Old school football ruled the day when North Branch traveled to Mora to take on the Mustangs in the season opener for both teams on Thursday, August 29.
North Branch, who employs the antiquated Wing-T rushing offense, took an early lead, but Mora hung around long enough to swing the momentum back their way and come out with a 22-14 win.
Mora, using a similar bruising rushing style as North Branch, wore down the Viking defense that was on fire in the first quarter.
North Branch couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. After receiving the kickoff, North Branch marched down the field in pretty convincing fashion. Running backs Austin Sonnek and Ben Nadeau and quarterback Kobe Chouinard alternated positive runs that kept the Vikings ahead of the sticks.
Eventually the constant rushing paid off as Chouinard executed a great play action fake to Sonnek up the middle, and hit a streaking Nadeau up the sideline on a wheel route for a 22-yard touchdown pass and catch.
Chouinard called his own number on the two point conversion and juked a Mora defender to the ground before dancing into the end zone untouched for an 8-0 North Branch lead.
On Mora’s ensuing drive, they hammered the ball up the middle on a mix of traps and counters, but the interior of North Branch’s defensive line stood strong.
Mora decided to go for it on a fourth and short from their own 40 yard line, and NB stuffed them for no gain, and a turnover on downs, setting the Viking offense up in prime position.
They couldn’t capitalize though, as Mora’s defense stiffened up on the drive. The two teams traded a couple of fruitless possessions until North Branch got in business again. They drove inside Mora’s redzone, again using a potent rushing attack, but they went to the well a few too many times with a Chouinard run.
The senior quarterback had been having success rushing to the outside edge against the Mustangs, but as Chouinard was navigating the defenders in front of him, Mora’s backside defender had crashed hard and blindsided him, jarring the ball loose. Mora picked the fumble up and returned it for almost 20 yards, setting them up with good field position and the momentum.
They cashed in on the drive, scoring a touchdown from 12 yard out later in the drive.
On the two point conversion, Johnny Snaza, who had been disruptive for Mora all game, blasted between the center and the guard and wrapped up the Mustang back to keep the game at 8-6 in favor of North Branch.
But, the body punches were starting to pile up. Nadeau, who was North Branch’s top returning running back, got hurt just before halftime, and the hits on Chouinard, who’s only listed at 160 pounds, were starting to add up.
Mora’s offense was also wearing down the NB defense little by little, and the Vikings were trying to compensate by getting a head start. They were whistled for four offsides penalties on the opening drive of the second half, and that made a Mora touchdown much easier.
The Mustangs finished off the two point conversion on that drive, earning a 14-6 lead.
The Vikes couldn’t get a ton more offense going throughout the game. They did score one more touchdown, with Chouinard bringing it in from a few yards out to tie the game at 14, but Mora just seemed to be the better team in the second half.
The Mustangs punched in an early fourth quarter touchdown and two point conversion to break the tie and lead 22-14. The Vikes got two more possessions into Mustang territory inside their 40, but both times, Mora held the NB offense in check.