SLEEPY EYE - Sleepy Eye St. Mary's defense held Minnesota Valley Lutheran to just one touchdown in Saturday's prep football playoff game, and the Knights rolled on to a 32-7 victory to advance to the Section 2A championship game on Friday.
The Knights did not waste any time by coming out and scoring a touchdown merely three and a half minutes to the game.
St. Mary's had great field position after a huge return on the opening kickoff by senior Sean Mathiowetz. After a false start penalty, senior running back Mitch Neid broke open a 55-yard run, which set up a five-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Jordan Anderson to wide receiver Mike Hirsch a few plays later on fourth down.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s running back Mitch Neid gets past Minnesota Valley Lutheran defenders Samuel Koepsell (62) and Ryan Grunke (2) during the first quarter of the Knights’ Section 2A Playoff win Saturday in Sleepy Eye.
MVL responded with a long drive of its own. The Chargers received the ball with 8:18 remaining in the first quarter, and they methodically moved the ball down the field on the ground.
MVL ran the ball all 18 plays of the eight minute, fifty-nine second drive and converted three fourth down conversions before Kris Goetzke powered the ball into the end zone on a one-yard run. Goetzke tacked on the PAT, and the Chargers took a 7-6 lead.
The second quarter was not nearly as exciting, as both teams were forced to punt on their first two possessions of the quarter.
St. Mary's finally scored 49 seconds before the half on a six-yard touchdown pass from Anderson to receiver John Brandl, and Mathiowetz pulled in a beautiful catch in the corner of the end zone on the two-point conversion to give the Knights a 14-7 lead going into halftime.
The second half was all St. Mary's as MVL struggled to move the ball against the Knights' defense.
"(MVL) knew what our defense was going to do because we have been running that defense for the last couple of weeks, so we switched it up a little bit and it worked real well," St. Mary's linebacker Lucas Heiderscheidt said.
Heiderscheidt caused nightmares for the MVL running game, leading the way for the St. Mary's defense with 15 tackles, while Carter Krzmarzick had 13 tackles.
St. Mary's scored two times in the third quarter, once on a 17-yard run by Neid and the other on an eight-yard pass from Anderson to Brandl, but both two-point conversions failed.
MVL threatened to score late in the third quarter after a 45-yard pass from Ryan Grunke to Grant Wilson combined with a roughing the passer penalty moved the Chargers deep into St. Mary's territory, but the Knights forced a fumble and recovered it on their own one yard line to keep MVL from scoring.
St. Mary's scored once more midway through the fourth quarter on a three-yard run by Anderson. The two-point conversion failed once again making the final score 32-7.
Anderson was 12-for-23 through the air for 154 yards and three total touchdowns, while Neid rushed for 90 yards and a touchdown.
Mathiowetz and Brandl each had three catches for 47 and 45 yards, respectively.
No stats were available for MVL.
"I thought our kids played great," MVL head coach Jim Buboltz said. "(St. Mary's) has a good football team. We played hard and it was another good football season."
St. Mary's (9-0) advances to take on New Ulm Cathedral in the Section 2A title game on Friday, while MVL ends its season at 4-6.
"It feels good to get this first playoff win, and now we just have to keep it going," Heiderscheidt said.