SPRINGFIELD - The Springfield Tigers found themselves in a bit of a Runck Wednesday night.
That's because senior Nick Runck gashed the New Ulm Cathedral Greyhounds defense for 144 yards and two touchdowns as the Tigers upset the Greyhounds 21-14 in the final game of the Southern Minnesota Conference regular season.
The win assures the 4-4 Tigers of a home game in the opening round of the playoffs next Tuesday night and showed a return to a pound-the-ground, rush-the-passer style of play that had largely been missing this year.
"It was fun to play real Tigers football and get the ball rolling heading into the playoffs," Springfield coach Paul Dunn said. "We had a couple of big defensive stops just before the first half and our pass rush was there. Our tackling is coming and we did a nice job of flying to the ball."
There were no excuses from Cathedral coach Denny Lux.
"We had some problems with their veer offense," Lux said. "We had plenty of chances. It was a good game for both teams to enter the playoffs with."
Springfield broke the ice in the first quarter on a 61-yard drive that had Runck rushing for 34 of those yards, capping it off with a dive into the end zone on first-and-inches put the Tigers up 7-0 after a good extra point.
The Greyhounds sputtered offensively their first four possessions, giving up two sacks of quarterback Collin Helget and committing two penalties. Cathedral got its first break on an interception by Tyler Franta that led to a 58-yard, seven-play march capped by a 6-yard touchdown run from Michael Skillings. The extra point by Nathan Berg made it 7-7.
On the ensuing possession, Springfield again turned to Runck. He had runs of 28, 16, 7 and 5 yards using the veer offense that led to quarterback Carter Erickson faking a handoff to Runck up the middle, then darting right for a 2-yard touchdown.
Down 14-7 and starting on their own 41, Cathedral had 39.1 seconds to try and score before halftime. The Greyhounds were able to move the ball 38 yards before a interception by Ryan Fleischer ended the half.
The Greyhounds got a great kickoff return by Bryan Kokesch to the Tigers 42 to start the third quarter, but a huge Springfield defensive stand at its own 10 on a fourth-and-one gave the ball to the Tigers on downs.
Cathedral put together its best drive of the night with its next possession, going 53 yards on 13 plays that ended with another touchdown from Skillings, this one from five yards away. With 8:50 left in the game, it was 14-14.
On the Greyhounds next possession, the Tigers got their break, recovering a fumble by Cathedral at the Greyhounds 29. With 5:07 left, Erickson hit Tyler Vogel with a 27-yard pass, setting up a first and goal. The Tigers again turned to Runck, who bumped off the left and rumbled in from two yards out for the winning touchdown.
The Greyhounds had final opportunities, but a flag on the kickoff hurt at the beginning of their final drive, a pass was dropped that would have been a long gain and a sack ended any Cathedral hopes of a comeback.
On defense, Springfield's Justin Macht had four solo tackles and 11 assists, while Skillings rushed for 111 yards and had 13 tackles.