NICOLLET - If football was aerial combat, then you could call Saturday afternoon's clash between Nicollet and Madelia a dogfight.
Nicollet prevailed in a 33-26 battle in Section 2 9-man semifinal prep football action.
The Raiders scored first with 3:32 left in the first quarter when Dalton Elliott threw a three-yard pass to Tanner Elliott. Matt Fischer's kick attempt for the PAT was good, and Nicollet led 7-0.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Nicollet’s Dalton Elliot tackles Madelia quarterback Adam Cooling during Section 2 9-Man playoff action Saturday in Nicollet.
Madelia scored with 1:08 reamaining in the quarter when Adam Cooling scored on a three-yard run. The PAT attempt failed, and the first quarter ended with Nicollet ahead 7-6.
Cooling gave the Blackhawks the lead in the second quarter when he ran the ball in from three yards out. He also ran in to get the two-point conversion, and Madelia held its first lead at 14-7.
Dalton Elliott scored next for Nicollet with 8:05 left in teh half on a six-yard run. The PAT kick was blocked, and the score was 14-13 for Madelia.
Cooling scored again for Madelia with 5:37 remaining in the quarter on an 11-yard run. The two-point conversion run failed, and Madelia led 20-13 at halftime.
Nicollet scored the lone touchdown of the third quarter on a 68-yard pass from Dalton Elliott to Evan Guffey at the 8:38 mark. The two-point conversion pass failed, and Nicollet still trailed 20-19.
Elliott found Guffey again with 8:43 left in the fourth quarter. This time, it was a 16-yard pass. Elliot connected with Lucas Gens for the two-point conversion and Nicollet was back in the lead, 27-20.
Cooling led the Blackhawks again, and he took matters into his own hands by scoring on an eight-yard run with 5:32 left in the game. Cooling tried to tie the game with a two-point conversion run, but Nicollet's defense stopped him, allowing Nicollet to keep its slim 27-26 lead.
Nicollet utilized a series of passes and runs to keep the ball and wind down the clock. With 1:39 left in regulation, Nicollet successfully converted on fourth down to keep the ball.
Tanner Elliott scored the game's final touchdown on a three-yard scamper into the end zone with 36 seconds left in the contest. The two-point conversion pass failed, and Nicollet led 33-26.
Cooling wasn't going to go home without a fight, though. The Nicollet defense sacked him with 18 seconds left. As time was running out, Cooling threw the ball up for grabs, hoping that a Blackhawk player would catch it and score. The Raider defense denied Cooling's come-back attempt, as they tackled a Madelia player on the one-yard line as time expired.
"It was a battle," Raiders coach Tom Murphy said. "I can't say enough about Adam Cooling."
Murphy said that Nicollet has to play better next week if it hopes to continue its run to the 9-man state tournament.
Murphy added that Tanner Elliott twisted his ankle during the contest.
"Our kids played hard and they played well," Blackhawks coach Terry Arduser said. "We just came up one yard short (on the final play of the game)."
Arduser also noted that Nicollet "played like champions." He believed that the turning point of the game came in the third quarter when Nicollet intercepted a pass, which eventually led to the Raiders scoring later and shifting the momentum.
Dalton Elliott led Nicollet by completing 15-of-24 passes for 233 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed 29 times for 179 yards and scored one touchdown. Matt Fischer had six catches for 82 yards and Evan Guffey had four catches for 128 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, Matt Christenson had 17 tackles, one sack and one interception to lead the Raiders. Tanner Elliott had seven tackles and one sack. Kenny Fischer had three tackles and two interceptions.
Nicollet (10-0) will host Mountain Lake Area at 7 p.m. Friday in the Section 2 championship game. Madelia finishes its season 7-3.