SPRINGFIELD - By scoring on the last possession of the first half and the first possession of the second half, Sleepy Eye St. Mary's turned the game from a close battle to a route.
The No. 2 Knights (4-0, 4-0 SMC) scored to go into the half ahead 22-7 before putting the game away by scoring immediately after half to beat Springfield 30-7.
"We knew that if we got that first touchdown to start the half the game would be in our hands," said St. Mary's coach Brent Kucera.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s running back David Surprenant (7) carries a Springfield defender during a run in the second half Friday in Springfield. St. Mary’s won 30-7.
For more photos of this event go to cu.nujournal.com
For Springfield (2-2, 2-2), the two touchdowns seemed to deflate its players and give total control to St. Mary's.
"A 14-point swing like that is hard to recover from," said Springfield coach Paul Dunn. "We just didn't have an answer for their speed."
Before St. Mary's took control, the game started out in a tight battle.
St. Mary's did get the scoring started when Brandon Helget hit John Brandl for a 16-yard touchdown, giving the Knights a 6-0 lead.
It appeared the lead would lengthen, but a penalty negated a 90-yard punt return touchdown by Payton Adams. Later in the drive, Helget was picked off on a beautiful play from Springfield's Carter Erickson.
Springfield carried the momentum into the drive as Tyler Vogel made one of the better catches of the year by juggling the ball and eventually sandwiching the ball between his legs.
Two plays later, Cooper Scheffler took a reverse 30 yards for a touchdown and a 7-6 lead.
"Tyler just made a great athletic play," Dunn said. "That's the kind of series of plays that got the kids all excited."
St. Mary's answered the bell on its next drive. A 38-yard run by Helget moved the ball deep into Tigers' territory, where on fourth and goal Lucas Heiderscheidt rumbled into the end zone. A successful 2-point conversion from Helget to Brandl made the score 14-7.
With 58 seconds remaining before half and the Knights at fourth down, Helget scrambled right and found a wide open Kodan Kosak for a 21-yard score. Another conversion made it 22-7.
Immediately after halfitme, the Knights moved quickly down field and David Surprenant scored from 2 yards out.
For Springfield, not much was happening on offense all night as the defense for St. Mary's stopped the Tigers' running attack.
"We just played assignment football," Surprenant said. "Everyone knew their roles and we just executed."
Dunn also had high praise for the Knights' defense.
"They had a great game plan and shut down our veer option," Dunn said. "That hasn't happened here in quite a while, so you've got to tip your hat to Brent and his staff."
St. Mary's picks up a big win at Springfield, and Kucera knows the win will be a big boost.
"This was a huge win because we have a lot of respect for Springfield," Kucera said. "We beat a great football team so it gives us a boost where we know we can do something special."
Helget finished the evening 8-of-20 passing for 114 yards and two touchdowns. Surprenant had 58 yards rushing and Jaden Wait added 71 yards. Jared Rothmeier and Kosak each had an interception for the Knights.
Erickson finished 5-of-12 for 89 yards for Springfield.
St. Mary's improves to 4-0 on the season and will host New Ulm Cathedral next Friday.
Springfield drops its second straight and falls to 2-2. The Tigers will travel to Morgan for a game against Cedar Mountain/Comfrey on Friday.