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Interceptions lift VCC

Behind a surprisingly strong running game and an opportunistic defense, the Vermilion Ironmen opened the 2004 season with a 21-6 home win over Fergus Falls.Sophomore back Keena Turner was the workhorse, running 34 times for 185 yards and sparking a VCC rushing attack that amassed nearly 300 yards.But the Sept. 6 contest turned on three key plays, all made by the Vermilion defense.In the first half, the visiting Spartans blew a chance to take the lead by fumbling near the goal line, with VCC’s David McCall pouncing on the loose ball.Vermilion took a two-touchdown lead in the third quarter when defensive end Heath Severson picked off an errant screen pass and ran it back 40 yards for a touchdown.And with Fergus Falls threatening late in the game, defensive back Kenneth King’s interception at the goal line - his second pick of the contest - sealed the victory.It was a turnover-filled contest, with six by Fergus Falls and four by the victorious Ironmen.That’s one area where Vermilion will need to improve, according to head coach Keith Turner.“Overall, I’d have to grade us out at a C-plus,” said Turner. “We had some turnovers and a few mental mistakes defensively, but I think we’re going in the right direction and going toward that A.”It looked early on that the game - played before a crowd of about 250 at Ely School Stadium on a warm Labor Day weekend afternoon - would be a shootout.Fergus Falls struck quickly, with Kadafi Tunsil returning the opening kick 40 yards into VCC territory, setting up a long pass from Kurtis Eldon to Chris Ohren that put the Spartans up 6-0.The visitors missed the extra point and Vermilion answered immediately after getting the ball.Sophomore quarterback Lenny Serfling found receiver Irvin Bethea down the right sideline for a 55-yard scoring strike. Kicker Robert Karr added the extra-point for a 7-6 VCC lead.Keena Turner capped off a scoring drive with a short touchdown plunge in the second quarter, and the Ironmen led 14-6 at the half.Neither team would mount a drive in the second half, although both teams threatened.Both teams had costly turnovers, while Fergus Falls was unable to get its ground game going against the Vermilion defense.The Spartans had 183 yards through the air, but minus-7 yards rushing.Tunsil, who had three interceptions, did all he could to keep Fergus Falls in the game.With six minutes to go, he returned his third pick to the VCC five, stepping out of bounds just before an acrobatic leap into the end zone.Fergus Falls wouldn’t score, thanks to King’s interception.Otis Greenlaw also had an interception for Vermilion, and the Ironmen also recovered a fumbled punt.The Spartans fell to 0-2 for the season.Vermilion took on Rochester over the weekend and returns home this Saturday to face Ridgewater (1:30 p.m.).

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