Prep football: Cards win, earn home game in sectionals
SAUK RAPIDS -- Taking care of business at midweek in mid-October earned the Willmar Cardinals a chance to show their stuff in front of a hometown crowd one last time.
With the clock nearing 10 p.m., the Cardinals put the wraps on a 24-14 victory over Sauk Rapids on a cool Wednesday evening.
Offensive leaders were wide receiver Austin Rambow with 8 catches for 140 yards and a touchdown and running back Zech Streed, who took over for injured Michael Heitzman and piled up 116 yards in 19 attempts.
It's expected that the Cardinals will host Buffalo on Tuesday evening at Hodapp Field in the quarterfinal round of the Section 6-5A playoffs.
Willmar beat the Bison 40-19 on Aug. 31. The Cardinals will face a much-improved outfit the second time. After four straight losses, the Bison have gone 3-1 losing 19-15 to No. 6 Moorhead and with a win over No. 5 St. Michael-Albertville, 15-13.
Willmar finishes the Central Lakes campaign all square at 3-3 and the regular season 4-4.
Last night's game was tied 14-14 at half on a 63-yard Alex Grove to Rambow hookup and a 25-yard run by Grove for the Cardinals' points.
The defense blanked the Storm (1-5, 1-7) in the second half. It helped that punter Streed floated two punts that stopped inside the Sauk two, one of those just foot from the end-zone line.
Grove on a keeper and a 24-yard Patrick Courtney field goal took care of the second half scoring.
Willmar shut down the Storm rush. Scrappy senior quarterback Joel Haller put the ball up 30 times and was rewarded with two touchdown and four pass interferences called on the Cardinals secondary.
Willmar as assessed 110 yards in penalties but outgained the Storm 360 yards to 198.
Grove had a big game again running for 70 yards and passing for 177 more.
It looks like Tuesday winner here would travel to Monticello Oct. 20, a Saturday for a semifinal game.
Willmar 24, Sk. Rapids 14
Willmar (3-3, 4-4) 7 7 7 3-- 24
Sauk Rapids (1-5, 1-7) 7 7 0 0-- 14
Wil - Austin Rambow 62 pass from Alex Grove (Patrick Courtney kick)
SR - Zach Silbernick 65 pass from Joel Haller (Matt Meyer kick)
Wil - Grove 25 run (Courtney kick)
SR - Jeff Sundquist 16 pass from Haller (Meyer kick)
Wil - Grove 5 run (Courtney kick)
Wil - Courtney 24 field goal
First downs: 15 ... Rushing: 39-183 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 11-19-177-0 ... Fumbles lost: 1 ... Penalties: 9-110
Rushing: Alex Grove 12-70, Zech Streed 19-116, Cole Hagen 7-3, Chris Cunningham 1-(-6) ... Passing: Grove 11-18-177-0 ... Receiving: Austin Rambow 8-140, Patrick Courtney 1-11 ... Punting: Streed 4-33.5 ... Interceptions: Tyler Stegeman ... Fumble recoveries: none ... Tackles (solo-assist): Streed 4-2, Sean Zuidema 1-1, Courtney 2-0, Stegeman 3-1, Jordan Geurtz 5-1, Josh Kelly 2-0, Kristof Jensen 1-1 ... QB sacks: Cole Hagen 1, Kelly 2, Joey Lee 1 ...Tackles for loss: Geurtz, Streed, Buzzy Tollefson ... Pass breakups: Courtney 4, Stegeman 2
First downs: 9 ... Rushing: 22-28 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 7-30-170-1 ... Fumbles lost: 0... Penalties: 11-70
Rushing: Chris Keske 6-6 , Joel Haller 6-26, Jake Lynch 4-2, Logan Smoley 4-0, Tyler Bjork 1-(-8) ... Passing: Haller 7-30-170-1... Receiving: Jeff Sundquist 5-96, Zach Silbernick 2-74 ... Punting: Haller 8-34.7 ... Interceptions: none