NEW ULM - The New Ulm football team's season-opening night had its ups and its downs, as most nights do.
New Ulm managed to get on the board twice, but had a difficult time keeping itself in it thanks to its anemic run defense that allowed a 200-yard rusher and four rushing touchdowns in its 34-13 loss to New Prague in nonconference action Friday.
"The tackling on defense was one of our biggest issues," said New Ulm coach Anthony Ortmann. "[We had] some big penalties and drive-killers on offense. But we're getting better and we'll keep improving as the year goes."
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Prague’s Trevor Novotny pressures New Ulm quarterback Cooper Yackley (2) as he throws a pass during the first quarter Friday at Johnson Field in New Ulm.
For more photos of this event go to cu.nujournal.com
The Eagles (0-1) allowed senior Ben Buthe to rush for 209 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns - which would have been three had he not fumbled in the end zone toward the end of the first half already leading 21-0.
Second-stringer Michael Schumacher also recorded a 64-yard touchdown run as one of his three carries on the night against the pourous New Ulm defense.
But the biggest run of the night went to New Ulm sophomore Jordan Hillesheim, who broke for a 98-yard touchdown run in the opening drive of the third quarter. Hillesheim's run set the record for longest in school history, which beat out Donovan Johnson's 92-yard run recorded in 1970 against Blue Earth.
The play before it was supposed to go to Hillesheim from the 1-yard line, but ended up going to Matt Rowley instead. Rowley escaped the blitz to avoid the safety before gaining 1 yard to set up Hillesheim's run.
"It was a 47 toss and he made a great run, read his blocks well and everyone played hard on that play," Rowley said. "That's what we need every play is everyone going hard and no one taking a break."
New Ulm felt momentum shifting in its favor until it allowed Buthe to break for a 36-yard run for a touchdown three plays later to put New Prague up 28-7 early in the third quarter. The touchdown run was the second of the game for Buthe - he broke for a 49-yarder late in the first quarter for the Trojans' second score of the game.
The game was the first start for sophomore quarterback Cooper Yackley. Aside from throwing an interception to Will Halloran that was returned 11 yards for the first touchdown of the game, Yackley went 8-of-17 passing with 67 yards.
"He played well, he did his job, he had a couple nice passes," said Rowley, who caught three passes for 37 yards. "Overall, he did a great job. He got us the ball, he was playing calm and he was being a leader."
Rowley finished with 84 yards on nine carries, while Hillesheim had 129 yards on 13 carries from the fullback position.
Freshman Luke Scheid scored the Eagles' second touchdown on a 10-yard run with 0:49 second to go in the game. Scheid finished with 23 yards on two carries.
New Ulm will now prepare for a conference play in the new Big South Conference. Its first conference game will be next Friday at Worthington.
NP 14 7 7 6 - 34
NU 0 0 7 6 - 13
NP - Halloran 11-yard INT returned for TD (Klein PAT good), 4:08
NP - Buthe 49-yard TD run (Klein PAT good), 2:06
NP - O'Rourke 1-yard TD run (Klein PAT good), 3:25
NU - Hillesheim 98-yard TD run (Cooper PAT good), 10:59
NP - Buthe 36-yard TD run (Klein PAT good), 9:57
NP - Schumacher 64-yard TD run (Klein PAT blocked), 6:55
NU - Scheid 10-yard TD run (2-pt. conv. failed), 0:49