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Luke Peterson, right, of New London-Spicer dashes away from a Minneapolis North defender for a touchdown Saturday at Husky Stadium in St. Cloud. Tribune photo by T.J. Bartelt
Luke Peterson, right, of New London-Spicer dashes away from a Minneapolis North defender for a touchdown Saturday at Husky Stadium in St. Cloud. Tribune photo by T.J. Bartelt

NLS runs past North into state semifinals

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sports Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

ST. CLOUD -- New London-Spicer didn't panic.

After playing Minneapolis North to an 8-8 tie in first half of their state Class AAA quarterfinal football game Saturday at Husky Stadium, the Wildcats didn't make any rash changes in their approach and scored 20 unanswered points to top the Polars 28-8 and advance to the state semifinals.

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NLS (12-0) will play Kasson-Mantorville (12-0) at 3:15 p.m. next Saturday in the Metrodome.

The Wildcats brought their stable of running backs and pitted them against North's two-headed monster of quarterback Carleton Littlejohn and running back Robert Cannady. In the first half, each team managed a touchdown and two-point conversion.

"They were more physical than I thought they would be. Looking on tape, I thought they had more speed and they were less physical," said NLS coach Dan Essler. "They had some other players that we didn't notice on the game tape that were really good football players."

The Polars ran the ball 18 times for 118 yards in the first half and the Wildcats pounded ball 27 times for 119 yards.

"They were really slippery," said senior linebacker John Nething. "I only got one good hit on (Cannady) the first time."

Then came the second half. Before NLS would have an offensive series, the defense helped set the table. Senior Erik Tengwall intercepted a pass that gave the Wildcats the ball at the Polars' five-yard line. It was a pretty easy run for senior running back Jake Essler, who suffered a concussion last week and was only going to play defense and long snap. It was Essler's only carry of the game and Coach Essler said Jake was only in the game because senior Luke Peterson was a little banged up after his run.

The momentum swung to the Wildcats' side.

"Erik Tengwall's interception was big for us," Dan Essler said. "We got on an emotional rollercoaster on that one."

After a three-and-out for North, NLS had a short field once again and Peterson scored his second touchdown of the game on a three-yard run.

The defense tightened for NLS as the Polars were forced to throw the ball. When North did run, the Wildcats did a better job of containing the once-elusive Polar ballcarriers.

"We were playing tight a lot in the first half," said Nething. "We were worrying about not losing. Once we got the interception after the kickoff, we started to play loose."

Continuing to force-feed the run to the North defense, NLS started to see 10 defenders in the box in the fourth quarter. It didn't stop senior Sam Schmid from breaking off a 30-yard run and it opened up the Wildcats' only pass completion of the game, a 24-yarder from junior quarterback Jayme Moten to senior receiver Aaron Jenny, which took the ball to the North one-yard line and set up Peterson's third TD.

"Offensively, we decided to hammer it down and keep wearing them out," Essler said. "It was just a manner of us having more guys that can play than what they had."

The Wildcats ran the ball 51 times for 252 yards. Peterson led the way with 25 carries for 104 yards. Moten added 63 yards, Schmid had 40 and Nething followed with 33.

Cannady paced the Polars with 103 yards on 20 carries, but he had only 25 yards in the second half.

New London-Spicer 28, Minneapolis North 8

NL-Spicer 8 0 14 6 -- 28

Mpls. North 8 0 0 0 -- 8

NLS - Luke Peterson 12 run (Aaron Jenny pass from Jayme Moten)

MN - Robert Cannady 5 run (Carlton Littlejohn run)

NLS - Jake Essler 5 run (Jenny pass from Moten)

NLS - Peterson 3 run (pass failed)

NLS - Peterson 1 run (kick failed)x

New London-Spicer

Team statistics

First downs: 11 ... Rushing: 51-252 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 1-4-24-0 ... Fumbles lost: 0 ... Penalties: 5-55

Individual statistics

Rushing: Luke Peterson 25-104, Jayme Moten 8-63, Sam Schmid 6-40, John Nething 7-33, Derek Henle 4-7, Jake Essler 1-5 ... Passing: Moten 1-3-24-0, Peterson 0-1-0-0 ... Receiving: Aaron Jenny 1-24 ... Punting: Kevin Soine 4-29.3 ... Interceptions: Erik Tengwall 1, Shawn Hatlestad 1, Barrett Freeland 1 ... Fumble recoveries: none ... Tackles (solo-assist): Hatlestad 5-4, Nething 5-3, Tom Duscher 4-3, Austin Wentzlaff 5-3 ... QB sacks: none

Minneapolis North

Team statistics

First downs: 13 ... Rushing: 35-176 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 8-21-77-3 ... Fumbles lost: 0 ... Penalties: 7-45

Individual statistics

Rushing: Robert Cannady 20-103, Marcus Thames 1-34, Carlton Littlejohn 12-31, Ariel Deloney 1-7 ... Passing: Littlejohn 8-21-77-3 ... Receiving: Pengi Mboma 1-25, Shondel Strickland 1-1, Thames 4-26, Rashad Washington 1-13, Deloney 1-12 ... Punting: Deloney 3-35.0 ... Interceptions: none ... Fumble recoveries: none ... Tackles (solo-assist): not available ... QB sacks: n/a

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