NEW ULM - Riley Kerkhoff was determined to get that last yard, even if it took his Cedar ?Mountain/Comfrey team a couple plays to get it.
Down 15-14 with 2:47 left in their game against Minnesota Valley Lutheran, the Cougars marched 79 1/2 yards but couldn't get that last half of a yard. Finally, on fourth-and-goal, Kerkhoff kept the ball and pushed his way in, giving the Cougars a 20-15 lead with 24 seconds remaining. The Cougars hung on for the Section 2A victory over No. 3 seed MVL at Johnson Field.
Kerkhoff, who was in his second game back from a broken wrist he suffered in the second week, rallied the team to victory. It was the first CM/C playoff victory in four years.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Minnesota Valley Lutheran’s Chad Lease (left) can’t haul in a pass after getting past Cedar Mountain/Comfrey’s Colton Kunkel during Section 2A Playoff action Tuesday afternoon at Johnson Field in New Ulm.
For more photos of this event go to cu.nujournal.com
"I told the boys in the huddle that we weren't going to lose this game, that we were going to fight for every yard," the senior quarterback said.?"It's basically what we did, we came out on top."
While many probably thought the Cougars were done for after having to drive 80 yards with less than three minutes to play, the Cougars knew it was possible to win.
"This is something with this group of guys that we've been working on since day one," CM/C coach Brian Longerbone said.?"We had our quarterback come back for the last two games, we had our starting linebacker come back to us [today], we've had injuries all over the place at any time of the season."
MVL took that 15-14 lead when DeAndre Parker scored on a 10-yard run with 2:47 left to tie the game. The PAT by Andrew Kuester gave the Chargers the lead, but it didn't last long.
The ensuing kickoff went into the end zone and the Cougars took over at their own 20. It took them 12 plays to drive the field, the big play coming when Kerkhoff hit Brady Kerkhoff for a 32-yard pass that brought the ball down to the MVL 3 with 47 seconds left.
There, the Cougars had a couple of short runs that brought the ball down to the goal line before Riley Kerkhoff fought his way in for the score. The senior was determined to not let his season end in this game.
"It's your senior season, so it's life or death right there," he said. "We got them rolling and I told them we weren't going to lose and that's what we did."
Kerkhoff finished with 150 yards passing and nine yards rushing.
MVL took an 8-0 lead in the first quarter when Parker hit a wide-open Chad Lease for a 33-yard touchdown strike.
The Cougars responded in the second quarter when Riley Kerkhoff threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Chandler Rose to make it 8-6 with 1:28 left in the half.
The momentum shifted when Andrew Richter intercepted a Parker pass and turned it into a 60-yard touchdown, giving the Cougars a 14-8 lead just before halftime after the 2-point conversion.
"That set the tone right there," Kerkhoff said. "We knew that they were kind of run heavy, we just lined up and played hard and made the plays."
MVL had several chances inside the red zone, but were unable to convert until Parker ran in from 10 yards out late in the fourth quarter to give the Chargers the 15-14 lead. Parker passed for 61 yards and had two interceptions.
The Chargers end their season at 4-5. CM/C (2-7) is at New Ulm Cathedral on Saturday.
For CM/C, Brady Kerkhoff had four receptions for 54 yards and he rushed for 59 yards. Seth Kroells led MVL with 103 yards rushing and Grant Wilson had 55 yards rushing.
"This is great, this is the best feeling in the world, it's what we live for," Kerkhoff said. "It's what you play football for."