NEW ULM - When a team is matched up against a top five team in the state, there is not a whole lot it can do to compete in a game.
Minnesota Valley Lutheran found that out quickly when it hosted Bethlehem Academy Saturday night in Gopher Valley football at Johnson Park.
The Cardinals only led by one score after the first quarter, but then they stepped it up and went on to defeat the Chargers 41-8.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Minnesota Valley Lutheran’s Justin Bruns (14) bats the ball away from Bethlehem Academy receiver Mark Mahowald (3) in the end zone during the first quarter Saturday at Johnson Field in New Ulm.
"Our guys didn't quit, we played all the way through," MVL head coach Jim Buboltz said. "We gave it a good effort tonight, we just had some bad match-ups and we have to tackle a little bit better, too. We'll get better, the best thing is that it's not the last game of the year."
MVL's defense was solid in the first part of the game, especially on Bethlehem's first possession of the game. The Cardinals managed to drive into the red zone, but the Chargers held tough on third down and then on fourth down Cardinals quarterback Kyle Filzen tossed a pass into the back of the end zone, which Justin Bruns reached up at and batted down at the last moment to save the touchdown.
Filzen scored on a keeper on the following possession, but then in the beginning of the second quarter MVL's defense came up big again.
On fourth down at the goal line Filzen kept it himself and tried to sneak in on the outside, but Tyler Mielke, Ryan Grunke and Kris Goetzke knocked him down and again MVL took over on downs.
The only bad thing about stopping a team on fourth down at the goal line is that that's exactly where your offense is going to take over and a costly mistake could turn deadly.
That's exactly what happened to the Chargers as on the third play from scrimmage, Mielke took a hand-off up the middle and it slipped from his grasp and Bethlehem took over at MVL's 12 yard line.
On the first play, Filzen ran it in and gave his team a 12-0 lead with nine minutes remaining in the first half.
After MVL was forced to punt on the next possession, Bethlehem was given a chance to add to its lead before the half. It didn't take long as Filzen found senior wide receiver Tim Angell in stride down the sideline for a 61-yard touchdown to put the Cardinals up 18-0 at the break.
Bethlehem added two more touchdowns in the third quarter, including a 54-yard touchdown pass from Filzen to Angell, and then another touchdown and a safety in the fourth quarter sealed the game for the Cardinals.
Josh Wong dove in from a few yards out to score the lone touchdown for the Chargers with 0:17 left in the game.
For senior Mielke, he has put this game behind him and is looking forward to next week's homecoming game when the Chargers (2-4, 1-3) host Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity.
"Next week is homecoming and we have a big game against Lester Prairie," Mielke said. "We are putting our nose to the grindstone and it's going to be a tough one but, we are going to pull through, give it 100 percent."