Football State Tournament, 2022: Semifinals, Day 3
Posted: Saturday, November 19, 2022 - 10:37 PM
After 14 semifinal games that were played over three marathon-long days, the matchups are set for the Minnesota State High School League’s Prep Bowl Championship on Friday, Dec. 2 and Saturday, Dec. 3 at U.S. Bank Stadium. This is the 50th year that the League has sponsored a football playoff system and the 40th year of the Prep Bowl Era.
Here is a look at what happened on Day 3 of the semifinals when Prep Bowl berths were earned:
Nearly 900 combined yards later, Springfield raced past Deer River for a 54-30 victory in the Class A semifinals in the first game of Day 3 of the Minnesota State High School League’s Football State Tournament on Saturday, Nov. 19 at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Junior quarterback Jakob Nachreiner completed 20 of 24 passes for 339 yards and five touchdowns to power the Tigers (11-2) into the Prep Bowl championship on Dec. 2. It will be Springfield’s first appearance in a Prep Bowl title game since winning the Class A crown in 2005. Springfield compiled 505 total yards in running their season winning streak to nine consecutive games.
The Tigers erupted for 28 points in the second quarter on the way to a 40-24 lead at the half. Junior wide receiver Ashton Toll had two touchdowns in the spree, both on 2-yard runs. Senior running back Ashtin Johnson led the balanced Tigers’ running attack with 77 yards on 14 carries. Junior wide receiver Carter Olson was the favorite target of Nachreiner with eight receptions for 107 yards and two touchdowns. Senior wide receiver MaCoy Krick was also busy with four receptions for 136 yards and two long connections, a 74-yarder and another for 53 yards in the third quarter when the Tigers stretched the lead to 46-24.
Deer River (12-1) had 359 yards of total offense, 185 on the ground and 174 through the air. Senior quarterback Sam Rahier completed 14 of 21 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns.
Minneota completed the Prep Bowl championship pairing with a narrow 28-27 victory over Fillmore Central in the ensuing semifinal. It wasn’t until time expired when the Vikings (11-2) could breathe easier. The Vikings built a 28-7 lead with 1:01 remaining in the third quarter and it was just enough to withstand a 20-point run by the Falcons (12-1) in the drama-soaked final quarter.
Fillmore Central, which decided to go for the two-point conversation and the lead with 3:15 left in regulation but failed, had a last-gasp opportunity to complete the rally. Facing a 4th-and-29 with 22 seconds remaining, the Falcons had a 35-yard completion by senior quarterback Dillon O’Connor on an entertaining hook-and-ladder play that brought Fillmore Central to Minneota’s 18-yard line. But the Vikings’ defense held firm, chiefly on a timely sack from senior defensive end Hudson Scholten with 15 seconds left. A final desperation pass attempt from 24 yards on fourth down fell incomplete.
O’Connor completed a three-touchdown surge on a 1-yard run. Moments later, he was tackled for loss on the two-point conversion attempt.
Before the late-game drama, Minneota was in control in cruising to a 28-8 advantage. Senior running back Zack Fier was the Vikings’ workhorse with 136 yards rushing on 23 carries. Senior quarterback Isaac Pohlen had a rushing touchdown and a 38-yard scoring strike to junior Ryan Dalager in Minneota’s run.
Minneota was the Class A runner-up in 2021 and has six Prep Bowl titles in its trips to the championship game.
Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, the Section 8AAA champion, continued its journey to an historic first berth in the Prep Bowl championship game with a 16-7 victory over Fairmont in the first semifinal on Saturday afternoon. The Rebels (12-0) used a nine-point surge in the fourth quarter to pull away from the Cardinals (10-3) and into a championship game berth for the first time in 10 state tournament trips.
Sophomore kicker Hayden Hauf snapped a 7-all halftime time with a 22-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter. About eight minutes later, the Rebels added some insurance on a 25-yard run by junior running back Nicholas Waale. On the play, Fairmont was assessed a facemask penalty but Waale kept moving until he ran alone into the end zone. Senior running back Jordan Summers led the ground game for Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton with 168 yards on 33 carries and a 14-yard touchdown that opened the scoring early in the second quarter.
Fairmont answered quickly on a 10-yard scoring pass from senior quarterback Brendan Schmidtke to junior wide receiver Levi Pooley with 8:16 left in the first half.
In the lower-bracket semifinal, New London-Spicer recorded a 33-28 victory over Watertown-Mayer. Junior Mason Delzer rushed for 125 yards on 29 carries while sophomore quarterback Blake Schultz completed 8 of 14 passes for 146 yards and three touchdowns to send the Wildcats (10-2) into the Prep Bowl championship game for the first time since finishing as the runner-up in 2014.
The Wildcats’ victory reverses a 38-36 loss to Watertown-Mayer during the Wright County Conference schedule in Week 2 on Sept. 9.
This time, New London-Spicer broke from a 7-all first quarter tie with 12 points in the second quarter. Senior split end Bryce Christensen, a 6-foot-4 target, gave the Wildcats a 19-7 advantage at the break when he caught a 17-yard pass from Schlultz as time expired in the second quarter. It was his second 17-yard TD reception from Schultz.
New London-Spicer stretched its lead to 33-21 with 4:45 left in regulation when senior receiver Gabe Rohman had a 30-yard reception from Schultz.
Watertown-Mayer (11-2) pulled to within 33-28 on a 32-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Albert Rundell to junior receiver Gannon Lee with 1:45 left in regulation, but the Royals could inch no closer.
A defensive stand didn’t figure to take center stage in the Class AAAAA semifinals when Mankato West and Rogers met for the final game in the 14-game semifinal. Both offenses are potent and can score in a hurry. While Mankato West’s offense did its part in creating a lead, it was the defense’s turn to preserve it in a 14-10 victory.
In a tense turn of events in the final moments, Mankato West sophomore defensive lineman Denim Blackstad stopped Rogers senior running back Anthony Powell on the 1-yard line on a 4th-and-goal with 1:20 left in regulation to preserve the Scarlets’ narrow advantage. Mankato West now has the opportunity to defend its Class AAAAA crown on Dec. 3 against Elk River in the final game of the seven-game, two-day Prep Bowl event.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Mankato West (12-0) stopped a potential Rogers scoring drive when senior cornerback Elijah intercepted a pass in the end zone and returned it 11 yards with 6:21 left in regulation. But just eight seconds later, the Scarlets handed the ball, and another opportunity, to the Royals (9-4) when senior running back Damian Riewe fumbled after taking a lateral.
Junior quarterback Barton McAninch scored on an 11-yard run with 2:54 left in the third quarter to lift the Scarlets into a 14-10 lead. It was Mankato West’s second drive of the second half, the first was a quick three-and-out.
Junior kicker Peyton Honnoll gave Rogers a 10-7 lead at the half on a 34-yard field goal as time expired. Earlier, the Royals forged a 7-all tie behind a 21-yard pass out of the shotgun from junior Reece Dawson to junior tight end Wyatt Gilmore who slipped behind the Mankato West defense for an easy scoring play.
Mankato West opened the scoring with 2:10 left in the first quarter on a 1-yard run out of the shotgun by McAninch.