Duren scores all three TDs in Austin’s 21-19 win over Winona
By Ben Pherson
Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN
When the Austin High offense took the field for the first time Friday night against Winona, senior running back Ryan Duren wasn’t on the field.
Duren was benched in favor of Kimy Ounkong. And the benching was all the motivation Duren would need.
"That definitely motivated me to have a big game," Duren said. "I felt like I needed to prove myself and get the coaches’ trust back."
Duren went over 100 yards in the team’s season-opening victory over Red Wing. But in the next two games, he averaged less than 2 yards per carry and didn’t reach even 40 yards rushing in either game.
The coaching staff felt Duren was running too much east and west, instead of north and south.
That changed Friday night. Duren hit every hole hard and kept his shoulders pointed upfield, leading the Packers to a 21-19 victory.
"He’s starting to accept those 4- and 5-yard runs, instead of trying to turn everything into a huge play," Austin coach Tim Hermann said. "That’s what he’s got to do. He’s such a powerful runner. He can move the pile and break tackles, but he has to keep going north and south to do that. You could see it out there; there were times it was just him and three or four tacklers, and he was dragging them. He’s that type of runner."
Hermann used Duren in the fullback spot for much of the second half.
"That was mostly because we were just trying to run it right at them," Hermann said.
Duren said he prefers to be at the tailback spot, but he’ll do whatever is needed to help the team get a victory.
Duren carried 37 times for 119 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught three passes for 73 yards and another score.
"He played great; we feel like he can be that good every game," Hermann said. "He’s learning; in this league, you have to go north and south because everyone is fast."
3 yards and a cloud
Hermann admitted Friday’s game was out of the ordinary. The offense looked more like 3 yards and a cloud of dust, rather than the spread formations and wide open, passing offense to which Packers fans are accustom.
Austin was as run-heavy as it has been in two seasons, rushing 54 times for 183 yards.
"That’s probably a little more than I normally like to do, but we were trying to make a statement," Hermann said. "Our offensive line needed a game like this. There’s still room for improvement, but it was better."
The Packers attempted only 12 passes — the fewest in a game this season. Quarterback Nate Justice was effective when he did pass, completing 7-of-12 attempts for 123 yards.
A week ago, the Austin defense allowed Rochester Century running back Leon Clark to rush for 263 yards.
But the Packers responded against Winona. On 32 attempts, the Winhawks rushed for only 46 yards.
The first half was even better; the Packers held Winona to just two yards rushing in the first 24 minutes.
When the final whistle blew, the Packers had outgained Winona 306 yards to 162 yards.
Justice, though he stands just 5-foot-9 and weighs 153 pounds, proved to be a viable rushing threat against Winona.
Justice had five runs of 10 yards or more against the Winhawks. His 21-yard run put the Packers on the 1-yard line and set up a Duren touchdown.
"Nate made some great decisions," Hermann said. "On most of those plays, he had the pass option, but he decided to pull it down and go."
A pair of late sacks cut into Justice’s rushing totals, but he still finished with 63 yards rushing on 13 carries.
Still a sore spot
Special teams continues to be a major concern for the Packers.
While Duren’s first punt (with the wind) was 50 yards, he also had one punt completely blocked and another partially blocked.
The coaching staff didn’t have enough faith in the punting game to boot the ball away late in the game during a clear punting situation. The Packers had the ball near midfield with a two-point lead and two minutes remaining. On fourth-and-7 at the 48-yard line, the Packers went for it and failed.
"We didn’t want to risk getting another one blocked and having them return it for a touchdown," Hermann said. "We’re still just not getting consistency out of our special teams. It’s something we’re working on every practice. But it’s just not happening yet."
Hermann said he was happy with kicked Tyler Zavala, though. Zavala was 1-for-2 on extra-point attempts.
"The one he missed wasn’t bad," Hermann said.
AUSTIN 21, WINONA 19
Winona 7 0 6 6 — 19
Austin 7 8 6 0 — 21
WIN — Shaun Berhow 1 run (Adam Lueck kick), 8:22.
Drive: 1 play, 1 yard, :03. Key play: Interception by Marty Moran gave Winona ball at Austin 1-yard line.
AUST — Ryan Duren 55 pass from Nate Justice (Tyler Zavala kick), :52.
Drive: 4 plays, 63 yards, 1:37.
AUST — Duren 1 run (Marcus Gunderson pass from Justice), 9:15.
Drive: 7 plays, 37 yards, 2:25. Key play: Justice 21-yard run to the 1.
WIN — Berhow 1 run (pass failed), 6:36.
Drive: 9 plays, 40 yards, 3:07. Key play: Devon Grossell 14 pass from Joe Zimbric.
AUST — Duren 11 run (kick failed), :58.
Drive: 14 plays, 82 yards, 5:34. Key play: Justice 19 run.
WIN — Berhow 2 run (run failed), 2:42.
Drive: 6 plays, 28 yards, 1:55. Key play: Deflected punt gave Winona ball at Austin 28-yard line to start drive.
First downs 9 15
Total Net Yards 162 306
Rushes-yards 32-46 54-183
Passing 116 123
Comp-Att-Int 6-21-1 7-12-1
Punts 4-38 4-25
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 1-0
Penalties-Yards 6-65 8-42
RUSHING — Winona, Shaun Berhow 14-18; Jake Filand 10-41; Joe Zimbric 6-(minus 19); No. 25 2-6. Austin, Ryan Duren 37-119; Nate Justice 13-63; Kimy Ounkong 4-1.
PASSING — Winona, Zimbric 6 completions-21 attempts-116 yards-1 interceptions-1 touchdowns. Austin, Nate Justice 7-12-123-1-0.
RECEIVING — Winona, Marty Moran 3-87; Devon Grossell 1-14; Berhow 1-1; Derick Spies 1-14; Adam Lueck 1-8. Austin, James Maxfield 1-9; John Maxfield 2-9; Will Hagan 1-32; Ryan Duren 3-73.