BOLD falls just short versus defending champs Caledonia, MInn.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The BOLD Warriors took mighty Caledonia to the wire before bowing 26-24 in the Class AA semifinals on Thursday afternoon at the Metrodome.
The two-time defending champions were outgained 322-215 yards but still extended their winning streak to 25-games.
Caledonia, also the Warriors, benefited from field position and a blocked punt early in the second half recovered for a touchdown.
"We were thinking we could beat them," said BOLD two-way starter Cole Mertens. "We stopped their running game but they got a few lucky passes. They're a quick team but we stuck with them."
The teams were tied at halftime 7-7 on a 46-yard pass from quarterback Alex Varney to Levi Schmitz which BOLD countered when Tyler Rock threw a pass to Trent Athmann in the corner of end zone for an 8-yard score.
Rock scored on a 60-yard run at 9:25 of third for BOLD's only lead, 14-13 after a Nick Kubesh kick. Kubesh had his punt blocked for a touchdown moments before. After Caledonia went up 20-14, Kubesh booted a 41-yard field goal to make it 20-17.
Each quarterback scored on short runs in the fourth quarter. BOLD got one last chance but had 90-yards to go with a minute left and gave up the ball with 26 seconds left on downs.
Sawyer Tersteeg, who starts at center and inside linebacker in BOLD's 4-4 defensive scheme, said the loss really hurts one step from the championship.
"We've been a good defensive team all year and we held them pretty well," he said. "We just didn't have field position and they had a few big plays.
BOLD's 1,600-yard rusher Chaz Roush had little room against Caledonia's speedy pursuit and finished with 47 yards in 18 carries, 2.6 per attempt. Tyler Seehusen rushed for 39 in 14 snaps. Rock threw for 146 yards and was picked twice.
Trevor Nissen had four catches for 91 yards and Athmann 4 for 44 and the TD.
Alex Hatch, Logan Sandgren and Nissen led the BOLD tackle chart. Sangren forced a Caledonia fumble at midfield in the fourth quarter that was recovered by Mertens. Five plays and 49 yards later, Rock kept around his right end and dove, landing head first on the goal line with the ball just into the end zone.
Kubesh's kick made it 26-24 with 5:06 left but BOLD wouldn't get the ball back until 1:39 was left at their own 11. They went backwards from there as the clock wound down.
"They really beat us on special teams," said BOLD head coach Steve Solem. "They had better field position [from punts and kickoffs] and had some nice kick returns. We knew we had the team speed and were physical enough but by the end they were a little fresher. Maybe, they had a little more depth.'
It was the tightest anyone played the winning Warriors team this season. Next closest was a 6-0 win over Chatfield and no other team the last two years of the state tournament had come within three scores of overtaking Caledonia.
"It's a shame this season has to end," said Solem. "This team enjoyed so much being together. They worked so hard and were so willing to spend extra time studying for the game. Now they'll start going their separate way in winter sports. That's the worst part."
BOLD and before that Bird Island-Lake Lillian has appeared in nine state championship games. Caledonia, which has won four of the past five AA championships, moves on to it eighth final in school history.
Commented Caledonia running back Brad Strub to reporters in the Metrodome tunnel afterwards, "It was just two great teams out there. Their No. 52 [defensive left tackle Logan Sandgren] is just a stud. They have that solid 4-4 defense but we stuck it out and dug deep."