11/10/2012 12:47:00 PM Wolverines fall in state quarterfinals
MLA 00-06-08-06 = 20 Grand Meadow 06-06-08-14 = 34 The Mt. Lake Area football team saw its 2012 season come to an end Friday night with a hard-fought 34-20 loss to Grand Meadow in the Class 9-Man State Quarterfinals, played in Rochester.
Missed opportunities ultimately doomed the Wolverines. MLA had two drives in Superlark territory stall out and had a costly fumble that led to Grand Meadow regaining a two-score lead in the second half.
One of those costly missed chances was on the game's opening drive. MLA marched from its own 17, going 12 plays down to the Grand Meadow 5 with first-and-goal. But a sack on first down pushed MLA back to the 16 and three incomplete passes turned the ball over on downs.
Grand Meadow turned around and marched its first drive 84 yards in 13 plays, capped with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Trent Bleifus to Bryce Benson for a 6-0 lead. The Superlarks did all their damage but the final six yards on the ground in the drive, which set up a theme for the rest of the game.
MLA did respond, taking its next drive 74 yards in 12 plays, capped with a one-yard touchdown run by Andrew Hempeck. The two-point conversion failed, leaving the score tied 6-6.
Grand Meadow's ability to run the ball set up its one long pass completion of the game on the next drive, when Bleifus hit Collin Jacobson with a 64-yard touchdown strike, making the score 12-6.
Grand Meadow had one last chance to score before halftime, but saw a 37-yard field goal attempt get pushed wide to the right.
But on the opening drive of the second half, Grand Meadow built a two-score lead when Landon Jacobson dashed 26 yards to paydirt. The two-point conversion pass from Bleifus to Benson gave the Superlarks a 20-6 lead.
MLA responded. On its second play of the second half, quarterback Carter Kirk hit Eric Wenner for a 54-yard completion, helping set up a 1-yard touchdown sneak by Kirk. Kirk added the two-point run, making the score 20-14.
MLA seemed to catch a break on the next Grand Meadow possession. The Superlarks drove the ball down to the Wolverine 19 but were called for a chop block. Back-to-back quarterback sacks by Kirk and Jacob Junker turned the ball over on downs and gave MLA a chance to tie or take the lead.
But on the third play of the drive, the ball popped free, with Grand Meadow's Brock Johnson recovering the fumble. Eight plays later, the Superlarks regained a two-score lead on a 4-yard run by Perry Stejskal, who also added the two-point run for a 28-14 lead.
Down by 14 with under seven minutes to play, MLA took to the air. A 28-yard completion from Kirk to Hempeck on fourth down kept the drive alive. Kirk then found Josiah Stoesz on a crossing route. Stoesz eluded a trio of tacklers and won a footrace to the end zone for a 29-yard touchdown. The two-point pass failed, leaving the deficit at 28-20.
The Wolverines attempted an onside kick, which was recovered by Grand Meadow. With MLA desperate to get the ball back, the Wolverine defense essentially aided Bleifus into the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown run with 1:13 left on the clock.
MLA's last chance fell short as the Wolverines were unable to complete a long pass attempt as time expired.
Grand Meadow's ground game was the difference, churning out 332 yards on the ground on 46 carries. Landon Jacobson had 19 carries for 177 yards while Stejskal added 104 yards on 15 carries.
Hempeck led MLA on the ground with 86 yards on 19 carries. Ryan Klassen rushed nine times for 57 yards. Kirk was 7-of-22 passing for 164 yards and a score. Wenner had three catches for 83 yards. Stoesz added two catches for 44 yards.