SLEEPY EYE - Everyone at the Sleepy Eye St. Mary's football stadium made good use of the edge of their seats on Friday night.
No. 4 St. Mary's, which stared defeat in the face more than once throughout the night, ousted New Ulm Cathedral in a tooth-and-nail 20-14 triple-overtime contest on Homecoming night.
"It was a hard-fought game," said St. Mary's coach Brent Kucera. "Both teams gave it all they had. It's what you want in a rivalry and a Homecoming game."
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s John Brandl (5) gets away from Cathedral’s Tyler Franta after making a catch Friday at SESM.
For more photos of this event go to cu.nujournal.com
St. Mary's (5-0) relied on interim fullback Lucas Heiderscheidt - who typically plays offensive line and linebacker - to pound the ball inside for the final two overtimes with running back David Surprenant having already shouldered so much of the rushing load with 23 carries. Heiderscheidt scored the final two touchdowns of the game.
"Their line was getting more down and our's was just getting a surge," Kucera said. "[Heiderscheidt] just put his shoulder down and was just getting tough yards."
Cathedral (3-2) was the one getting the tough yards at the beginning of the game. Against the Knights' stout defense that had allowed 6.3 points per game heading into the contest, the Greyhounds rushed for 91 yards.
"Coming over here, we knew it was going to be a 10-yard game," said Cathedral coach Denny Lux. "In practice, we just kept talking about moving the chains, moving the chains - make it a 10-yard game where you're keeping them off the field."
Overall, Cathedral tallied 202 rushing yards in the game led by a 121-yard, two-touchdown performance by running back Austin Cooper.
The Greyhounds had the opportunity to put the first points up on the board in the second quarter with what would have been a 24-yard field goal on fourth-and-goal.
Lux opted to go for it, however, and Cooper was stopped at the line of scrimmage to turn the ball over on downs.
"St. Mary's is a very good defensive team and they were making us work awful hard to find any spot to take the football," Lux said.
Surprenant punched it in from 1 yard out late in the second quarter to put the Knights up 6-0 heading into halftime. The touchdown came as an answer to the offensive struggles the Knights had experienced in the first quarter and most of the second.
"They came out and they read us well, they knew how to play us," said St. Mary's quarterback Brandon Helget.
Cooper tied the game with a 3-yard run early in the fourth quarter, but St. Mary's blocked Nate Berg's PAT attempt to keep the game tied 6-6.
St. Mary's almost avoided overtime completely when they marched down the field in the final minutes of regulation into the red zone. However, Surprenant fumbled the ball at the 10-yard line with 0:41 remaining to basically enforce overtime.
"It was crazy," Helget said. "It was hard to keep all the emotions in, but we had to keep focusing on football and just tried to get the 'W'."
After Heiderscheidt's second rushing touchdown in the third overtime, Cathedral had one final shot to stay alive.
However, that shot was eaten up by senior lineman Andrew Steffl, who sacked Cathedral quarterback Collin Helget on fourth down to end the game with a fifth win for St. Mary's.
"Our defense won the game for us hands down," Kucera said. "They held them to six points in regulation and they stopped them when we needed them to in overtime. Our defense won the completely for us."
NUC 0 0 0 6 0-8-0 - 14
SESM 0 6 0 0 0-8-6 - 20
S - Surprenant 1-yard TD run (2-pt. conv. no good), 0:18
C - Cooper 3-yard TD run (Berg PAT blocked), 9:42
C - Berg 21-yard FG blocked
C - Cooper 8-yard TD run (2-pt. conv. Helget to Olson good)
S - Heiderscheidt 2-yard TD run (2-pt. conv. Heiderscheidt run good)
S - Heiderscheidt 1-yard TD run (2-pt. conv. no good)