DeLaSalle ends NLS title dream
MINNEAPOLIS -- New London-Spicer had come along way -- two steps farther than any Wildcats team before -- but that didn't ease the hurt of losing to DeLaSalle early on Friday evening on the ground floor of the Metrodome.
The sting of the 31-14 loss to the Islanders registered in the faces of the defeated. The fact that NLS had gotten off to a 14-0 start in the Class AAA semifinal tilt made it harder to swallow.
"It's disappointing," said NLS coach Dan Essler. "I thought we played pretty well for three quarters, then we got a little tired and they started finding some running lanes."
NLS led 14-6 at halftime. But the Islanders had moved in front 18-14 by the end of the third quarter.
"We still had a chance in the fourth quarter, but we had to go for it on fourth down a couple of times and when we didn't make it they had good field position," said Essler.
The Wildcats' defense played a flawless first half. But in the second half, the Islanders' Evan Williams sprung a 67-yard run.
"They made some big plays and we missed some tackles," said NLS cornerback Erik Tengwall, whose first-quarter interception and 30-yard return, followed by a Caleb Friedrich kick, made it 14-0.
"We knew they like to run a hitch, and I saw it coming," Tengwall added. "The pass was a little soft and I stepped in front and got it."
NLS had gone in front 7-0 on an eight-play, 53-yard drive capped by Taylor Dammermann's one-yard smash to the end zone. Key plays were a nine-yard run by Jay Moten, a 12-yard sprint by Derek Henley, a pass interference penalty and a 19-yard Derrick Dohlmann catch and run from Jared Williamson that took the ball to the three.
A.J. Barker canceled out Tengwall's interception for six when he snared a Williamson pass in the flat and ran it in from 18 yards early in the second quarter.
The Wildcats were unable to mount a march of any duration in the second half. Shawn Halliday and Moten got loose outside several times each, but were quickly chased down by the fleet Islander linebackers or secondary.
"They had an excellent defensive line and that made it tough for us," said Williamson. "The defense didn't bite on any of our counters. It's rough when they take away your running game."
The Islander offense resided mainly on the legs of Williams (133 yards per game) and quarterback Michael Van Leer.
Taking a Chris Tobkin punt at midfield, Van Leer started up the sideline in front of the NLS bench, then cut across the field and down the opposite sideline to put his team in front 18-14 at 4:25 of the third.
A 50-yard drive topped off by a short Williams' run made it 25-14 early in the fourth. Later, Williams swerved around the left side to score from 23-yards out to end all doubt.
DeLaSalle's middle linebacker and blocking fullback, Adam Coleman, felt NLS was coming off the ball harder than the Islanders in the first half.
"It was anybody's game," he said. "It just went our way. New London-Spicer is a great team but we were able to stop a very powerful offense."
DeLaSalle (13-0) is back in the title game for a second straight year. The school won the 1999 Class AAA title.
Williams had 230 of the Islanders' 233 rushing yards.
NLS (10-3) netted only 71 yards in 44 rushes and had only 83 yards passing.
Sam Schmid and Luke Peterson also intercepted Van Leer and Moten had a fumble recovery.
DeLaSalle 31, NLS 14
DeLaSalle 0 6 12 13 -- 31
New London-Spicer 14 0 0 0 -- 14
NLS - Taylor Dammermann 1 run (Caleb Friedrich kick)
NLS - Erik Tengwall 30 INT return (Friedrich kick)
DLS - A.J. Barker 18 INT return (kick failed)
DLS - Evan Williams 67 run (run failed)
DLS - Mike Van Leer 51 punt return (pass failed)
DLS - Williams 3 run (Tyler Heaps kick)
DLS - Williams 23 run (kick blocked)
First downs: 12 ... Rushing: 35-233 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 6-15-94-3 ... Fumbles lost: 1 ... Penalties: 1-15
Rushing: Evan Williams 28-230, Mike Van Leer 2-3, Adam Coleman 3-0 ... Passing: Van Leer 6-14-94-3, Williams 0-1-0-0 ... Receiving: A.J. Barker 3-51, Donzell Bell 3-43 ... Punting: Barker 3-40 ... Interceptions: Barker 1, Van Leer 1 ... Fumble recoveries: none ... Tackles: Peterr Ringham 8, Spncer Harris 7, Sherome Milon 6, Keton Rush 6 ... QB sacks: Ringham 1, Harris 2, Richard Shumpert 1
First downs: 10 ... Rushing: 44-71 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 5-18-83-2 ... Fumbles lost: none ... Penalties: 1-15
Rushing: Taylor Dammermann 11-29, Jay Moten 7-29, Derek Henle 4-17, Shawn Halliday 13-11, Jack Hartley 1-0, Jared Williamson 8-(minus 15) ... Passing: Williamson 5-18-83-2 ... Receiving: Jake Essler 1-24, Halliday 1-21, Derrick Dohmann 1-19, Henle 1-10, Moten 1-9 ... Punting: Chris Tobkin 8-27 ... Interceptions: Sam Schmid 1, Luke Peterson 1, Erik Tengwall 1 ... Fumble recoveries: Jay Moten ... Tackles: John Nething 5, Chris Hanson 5, Luke Peterson 4, Justin Zylstra 4, Sam Schmid 4, D.J. Rothwell 4, Erik Tengwall 4, Jake Essler 3, Aaron Jenny 2 ... QB sacks: Aaron Jenny 1