It’s Rabbit season: Dawson-Boyd shuts out Wabasso to reach state tournament
By Jeff Arenz
MARSHALL — The Dawson-Boyd Blackjacks did something Friday that no other prep football team has done to Wabasso in a postseason game during the last decade.
They shut out the Rabbits.
Dawson-Boyd (10-1 overall) won the Section 5A tournament championship and advanced to the state tournament quarterfinals after securing a 28-0 win over Wabasso (9-2) at Southwest Minnesota State University.
Since 2004, the Rabbits have played 108 games (73-35) and have been blanked four times. During that span, Wabasso has been a part of 28 playoff games (18-10) and had not been shutout until Friday.
“I was thankful that we played this game with a lot of intensity because we have had trouble with that over the last couple weeks,” said Blackjacks running back Dalton Palmer, who scored a pair of second-half touchdowns on runs of 3 and 6 yards. “Give Wabasso credit for having a great defensive line. Our offensive line had to fight hard just open up a hole to run through. Also, give credit to our line for fighting the way they did.”
Palmer led all rushers with 181 yards on 22 carries. His 3-yard third-quarter touchdown run handed Dawson-Boyd a 21-0 lead with 6 minutes, 14 seconds left in the period. Then, a 6-yard fourth-quarter TD run by Palmer sealed the Section 3 championship and state playoff berth for DBHS as 11:07 remained.
“I think we played a complete football game,” Dawson-Boyd head coach Cory Larson said. “We have gotten off to some slow starts in first halts this season and have actually fallen behind in some of those games. We haven’t given up many points in the second half, and after being up 14-0 at halftime, it was a different spot for us.”
The Blackjacks trailed Canby 20-7 at halftime of a Section 5 semifinal game at home last Saturday, but scored three third-quarter touchdowns to post a 25-20 victory.
Dawson-Boyd is scheduled to play Braham (11-0) in an MSHSL State Tournament quarterfinal game at 5 p.m. Friday at St. Cloud State University. The Bombers defeated Barnum 28-20 on Thursday at Public School Stadium in Duluth.
Early-on, Wabasso held the upper hand.
The Rabbits strung together a 14-play, 41-yard first-quarter drive that produced three of Wabasso’s eight first downs and was kept alive on fourth-and-15 from the WHS 48. In punt formation, quarterback Neil Eichten faked the kick and tossed a 19-yard pass to Dirk Pistulka, who hauled in the ball and ran to Dawson-Boyd’s 33-yard line.
But a pair of penalties cost the Rabbits and the drive stalled three plays later, when Eichten’s incomplete pass was intended for Caleb Kemp on fourth-and-12 at the Blackjacks’ 35.
Dawson-Boyd answered with an eight-play, 65-yard possession that quarterback Joey Lee capped with a 1-yard touchdown run, giving the Blackjacks a 7-0 lead with 11:32 left in the first half.
“Our offensive line made holes for our running backs and we got to be selective when we passed the ball,” said Lee, who added another 1-yard TD run as 4:14 remained before halftime. “All we had to do was to manage the game, not turn the ball over and that’s what we did. We had a few third-down conversions, even after we got ourselves in trouble (with penalties), had them called back and had to get them again.”
Lee ended up 8 of 13 for 133 yards, while Eichten completed 10 of 23 passes for 88 yards.
When Wabasso took over on its ensuing drive, Tanner Bock saved the possession by gaining four yards on fourth-and-1 from the Rabbits’ 45. After three more plays, WHS faced a fourth-and-2 at the Dawson-Boyd 42, when Eichten’s downfield pass was broken up by Lee inside the 10-yard-line.
The Blackjacks went ahead 14-0 eight plays and 58 yards later, when Lee plunged into the end zone for one yard out.
A stingy Dawson-Boyd defense limited Wabasso to 69 yards rushing and 157 yards of offense overall. The Blackjacks compiled 380 total yards with 247 of them coming on the ground.
“This is tough because we had a great group of kids who have loose personalities,” Rabbits head coach Joe Kemp said. “Tonight, we played a little tentative and were hurt by taking to many penalties in the first half. We had opportunities to hang right with (Dawson-Boyd) and you can’t miss on them when you’re playing one of the final 16 teams in the state.”
The teams were penalized a combined 14 times for 95 yards. Wabasso was whistled six times for 45 yards.
Dawson-Boyd 28, Wabasso 0
Wabasso (9-2) 0 0 0 0 — 0
Dawson-Boyd (10-1) 0 14 7 7 — 28
D – Joey Lee 1 run (Easton Popma kick)
D – Joey Lee 1 run (Popma kick)
D – Dalton Palmer 3 run (Popma kick)
D – Palmer 6 run (Popma kick)
First downs: 8 … Rushing: 31-69 … Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 10-23-88-0 … Fumbles lost: none … Penalties: 6-45
Rushing: Tanner Bock 20-80, Caleb Kemp 3-11, Mitch Fulton 1-2, Neil Eichten 1-(-3), T.J. Fulton 5-(-8)… Passing: Neil Eichten 10-23-88-0 ... Receiving: Dirk Pistulka 4-34, T.J. Fulton 3-35, Caleb Salfer 2-17, Tanner Bock 1-2 … Punting: 5-31.8 … Interceptions: none … Fumble recoveries: none … Tackles (solo-assist): Caleb Salfer 7, Matt Zeug 6, Josh Altermatt 5, Tanner Bock 5, Alex Schroepfer 4, T.J. Fulton 4, Dirk Pistulka 4, Caleb Kemp 3.5, Neil Eichten 3, Jared Welch 2.5, Cole Anderson 1, Tanner Iverson 1, Jonathan Nelson 1, William Klann 0.5… QB sacks: none
First downs: 16 … Rushing: 45-247 … Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 8-13-133-0 … Fumbles lost: none … Penalties: 8-50
Rushing: Dalton Palmer 22-181, Michael Anyasike 8-28, Christian Thoen 4-19, Joey Lee 7-5, Michael Lee 1-9, Karson Lindblad 1-5 … Passing: Joey Lee 8-13-133-0 ... Receiving: Kyler Collins 2-60, Michael Lee 2-44, Noah Stelter 2-22, Jordan Bothun 1-6, Joey Lee 1-1… Punting: 3-24 … Interceptions: none … Fumble recoveries: none … Tackles (solo-assist): Jamie Arvold 7.5, Noah Stelter 6, Michael Anyasike 3.5, Joey Lee 3.5, Keith Abraham 3, Kyle Collins 3, Michael Lee 3, Karson Lindblad 3, Jake Lehman 2.5, Dalton Kostad 2, Dalton Palmer 2, Easton Popma 1, Christian Thoen 1.5, Jordan Bothun 1, Donny Bothun 0.5, Wyatt Ireland 0.5, Levi Loose 0.5, Hunter Olson 0.5, Taylor Peterson 0.5, Ryan Schueller 0.5, Tyler Thesing 0.5 … QB sacks: Matt Zeug 1