Prep Football: ACGC's late rally not quite enough
MINNEAPOLIS -- The ACGC Falcons, trailing Mahnomen by 19 points in the fourth quarter, rallied for two scores but couldn't get all the way back and lost 26-20 in the Class A semifinals Saturday at the Metrodome.
"We came in and did a good job of treating it like any other game," said Falcons receiver Lee Whitcomb, who scored one of his team's fourth-quarter touchdowns on a 46-yard pass play. "We knew we couldn't come in and treat it like a big game in the dome and we didn't. We left it all out there on the field and we tried our best."
The Falcons finished the season 9-3. Mahnomen (13-0), the Class A runner-up to Dawson-Boyd last season, will play Bethlehem Academy in next Saturday's Prep Bowl. BA knocked off the defending state champs 29-20 in Saturday's other semifinals game at the dome.
"They deserved to win the game," ACGC head coach Terry Karlsgodt said of Mahnomen. "They've been here for years and they know what it takes to win games like this. I hope they get it (the state championship) next week."
Like they did during the season, the Falcons bounced back from adversity early in the game.
Mahnomen's Trevor Haugo returned the opening kickoff 73 yards for a touchdown and a 6-0 lead. At that point against the Indians, a perennial Class A power, ACGC could have been in the same fix they were in during a season-opening 34-0 loss to BOLD.
But ACGC answered right back on its first drive, which ended with back Taylor Larson throwing to quarterback Dylan Hoerchler on a 15-yard scoring pass and a 7-6 Falcons lead.
But then the ACGC offense stalled and had no response for three-straight Mahnomen TDs. Bryce Penner ran for two second-quarter TDs and Garret Hoffner scored on a 5-yard run in the third quarter and the Falcons entered the fourth down 26-7.
"Considering that (Mahnomen's) first team didn't allow any touchdowns during the season, I think our kids played pretty hard," Karlsgodt said. "We made a couple of mistakes that hurt us but I'm proud of the way they came back. We did some good things there."
Following a Mahnomen punt with about 10:45 left, ACGC drove 86 yards on just four plays, with Hoerchler hitting Lee Whitcomb on the 46-yard scoring pass that cut the Mahnomen lead to 26-13.
ACGC forced the Indians into a three-and-out and Hoerchler's 15-yard punt return set the Falcons up at the Mahnomen 30 yard line with about eight minutes to play.
Six plays later, the Falcons were in the end zone again, this time on Jordan Nelson's 2-yard TD run. The kick made it 26-20 Mahnomen with 5:21 remaining.
The Falcons got one last chance when Nick Peterson recovered a Mahnomen fumble at the ACGC 33 yard line with 2:40 left. But the Indians' defense stiffened and Hoerchler's fourth-down pass from the Falcons' 45 was tipped and Nathan Hanson intercepted to end the threat and the game.
The Falcons opened the season with a 34-0 loss at BOLD but retooled its offense and intensified their approach on defense. Despite their impressive turnaround, the Falcons didn't feel like they were respected among the state tournament teams, Karlsgodt said.
"Everybody on the team felt like no one was giving us much of an opportunity," he said. "But we played a tough schedule during the season and we proved that no team's armor is invincible.
"This has been a good crew that way," Karlsgodt said. "To think we started the season losing 34-0 and we were three minutes from playing for a state championship. That's pretty good. The only thing is is that the opportunity to get to this point can be far and few between, so I feel bad for the kids about that."
Class A semifinals
Mahnomen 26, ACGC 20
Mahnomen (13-0) 6 14 6 0 -- 26
ACGC (9-3) 7 0 0 13 -- 20
M - Trevor Haugo 73 kickoff return (run failed)
A - Dylan Hoerchler 15 pass from Taylor Larson (Lucas Damm kick)
M - Bryce Penner 7 run (pass failed)
M - Penner 38 run (Garret Hoffner pass from Jacob Pavek)
M - Hoffner 5 run (pass failed)
A - Lee Whitcomb 46 pass from Hoerchler (pass failed)
A - Jordan Nelson 2 run (Damm kick)
First downs: 13 ... Rushing: 48-215 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 3-9-81-0 ... Fumbles lost: 3 ... Penalties: 1-5
Rushing: Bryce Penner 6-63, Bob Bjorge 20-62, Garret Hoffner 8-57, Jacob Pavek 12-25, Trevor Haugo 1-8 ... Passing: Pavek 2-8-43-0, Haugo 1-1-38-0 ... Receiving: Jason Schoenborn 1-38, Haugo 1-30, Nathan Hanson 1-13 ... Punting: Pavek 4-126 (31.5) ... Interceptions: Hanson 1 ... Fumble recoveries: Hoffner 1 ... Tackles (solo-assist): Kal Handyside 8, Jacob Hedstrom 6, Kole Lefebvre 5, Pavek 5, Hanson 4, Bjorge 4, Hoffner 4, Nick Otto 3, Haugo 3, Levi Leibl 3, Jake Worms 2, Darin Geray 2, Kody Lefebvre 1, Kurt Francis 1 ... QB sacks: Bjorge 1
First downs: 16 ... Rushing: 35-81 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 14-27-197-1 ... Fumbles lost: 1 ... Penalties: 4-20
Rushing: Jordan Nelson 19-48, Dylan Hoerchler 12-19, Mitchel Macik 1-9, Taylor Larson 3-5 ... Passing: Hoerchler 10-23-140-1, Larson 4-4-57-0 ... Receiving: Lee Whitcomb 5-99, Maverick Whitcomb 4-38, Hoerchler 3-34, Macik 1-17, Larson 1-9 ... Punting: Nelson 5-145 (29.0) ... Interceptions: None ... Fumble recoveries: Lee Whitcomb 1, Macik 1, Nick Peterson 1 ... Tackles (solo-assist): Lucas Damm 10, Hoerchler 7, Maverick Whitcomb 6, Logan Jacobs 5, Jordan Fester 4, Lee Whitcomb 4, Macik 3, Larry Bomstad 2, Taylor Larson 1, Peterson 1, Jack Walthers 1, Frank Wortham 1, Zach Junkermeier 1, Tyler Berghuis 1, David Kinzler 1 ... QB sacks: None