Prep football: Falcons soar into semis
MARSHALL -- The Falcons are back in the Metrodome where they won the 2001 state championship.
Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City came from down 14-0 after one quarter to throttle the start-up Cyclones of St. Clair 38-20 in a Class A quarterfinal played at sleek Mattke Field on the Southwest Minnesota State University campus on a mild Friday evening.
The hard-fought victory propels the Falcons into the semifinals of the state tournament.
The Falcons (9-2) will play the winner of today's game in Duluth matching Barnum (9-2) and Mahnomen (11-0) next Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
St. Clair, which didn't have a varsity team a year ago, came ready to play while ACGC seemed under the weather to start.
But by the end, the two teams had combined for an action-packed 700 yards of offense.
Jordan D. Nelson, a senior running back, would run for three touchdowns and 133 yards in 21 carries. Quarterback Dylan Hoerschler ignited a slumbering Falcons' offense in the second quarter with his end runs and several punt returns for healthy yardage. In the fourth quarter a Falcons lead of three points, 23-20, exploded to an 18 point advantage on back-to-back breakaways by Nelson (68 yards) and Maverick Whitcomb (70 yards).
Defensively, defensive end Logan Jacobs had an interception and batted down a two-point conversion pass after the Cyclones went up 20-16 early in the third quarter. Defensive tackle Lucas Damm, who kicked a pair of extra points, had a huge sack when it was still a three-point game in the third quarter. Taylor Larson's 15th interception ended another Cyclones threat late in the game.
The Cyclones stunned the Falcons and their fans by scoring on their first two possession, the second after a Falcons fumble at midfield.
On the third play of the game quarterback Blake Flowers faked to a back and tossed straight over the middle to wide-open tight end Tyler Fandrich who was finally dragged down by safety Taylor Larson at the ACGC 5 after a 60-yard pickup. Flowers than flicked a pass Fandrich in the corner of the end zone from the 4 for a 6-0 lead.
ACGC fumble the ball away its next two possessions. The Cyclones capitalized on first turnover when Flowers and Fandrich again teamed up on a 29-yard connection for a 14-0 lead after Fandrich booted the conversion.
After the second fumble at the Falcons' 35, the defense got its bearings and stopped the underdogs at the 17 as the first quarter ended.
The momentum shifted to the West Central Conference team in the second quarter, starting with the Falcons' defense.
Linebacker Maverick Whitcomb tackled flowers for an 8-yard loss on third down forcing the Cyclones to punt from the end zone. Dylan Hoerschler's return set the Falcons up just 16 yards from pay dirt.
Nelson needed just two carries off his right side for the touchdown. Jacobs nabbed a Hoerschler conversion pass to make it 14-8.
The defense held again and the Falcons started at the Cyclone 40. Nelson went for 10, then 12 more to the 13 where Hoerschler buzzed his right end for the tying score. Nelson carried in for the 2-point conversion and the lead.
Hand it to the Cyclones, who would rush for 185 yards in 53 tries and pass for 165 more. They came out and took the second half kickoff 70 yards to retake the lead 22-16.
But after that ACGC took over the line of scrimmage and perhaps the Cyclones, unable to match the Falcons depth, began to tire.
ACGC 38, St. Clair 20
ACGC (9-2) 0 16 7 15-- 38
St. Clair(9-3) 14 0 6 0-- 20
SC - Tyler Fandrich 4 pass Blake Flowers (Fandrich kick)
SC - Fandrich 29 pass from Flowers (Fandrich kick)
ACGC - Jordan Nelson 7 run (Logan Jacobs pass from Dylan Hoerchler)
ACGC - Hoerchler 13 run (Nelson run)
SC - John Goebel 17 run (pass fail)
ACGC - Nelson 1 run (Lucas Damm kick)
ACGC - Nelson 68 run (Hoerchler run)
ACGC - Maverick Whitcomb 72 run (Damm kick)
First downs: 9 ... Rushing: 39-277 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 3-7-86-0 ... Fumbles lost: 2 ... Penalties: 3-25
Rushing: Jordan D. Nelson 21-133, Maverick Whitcomb 2-70, Dylan Hoerchler 6-56, Mitchell Macik 6-16, Larry Bomstad 1-3, Taylor Larson 2-0 ... Passing: Hoerchler 2-5-57-0, Larson 1-2-29 ... Receiving: Lee Whitcomb 2-69, M. Whitcomb 1-17 ... Punting: Jordan P. Nelson 4-32.5 ... Interceptions: Logan Jacobs, Taylor Larson ... Fumble recoveries: none ... Tackles (solo-assist): Larry Bomstad 4-12, Dylan Hoerchler 4-11, Lucas Damm 4-7, Logan Jacobs 2-8, T. Larson 5-3, Lee Whitcomb 1-7, Macik 4-4, M. Whitcomb 2-4, Nick Peterson 1-4, Frank Wortham 1-3, Jordan Fester 0-3 ... QB sacks: Damm (-10), L. Whitcomb
First downs: 15 ... Rushing: 53-185 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 7-19-165-2 ... Fumbles lost: 0 ... Penalties: 7-36
Rushing: Miklo Miller 21-98, Michael Nett 15-59, John Goebel 8-27, Sam Schruin 4-15 ... Passing: Blake Flowers 6-17-152-2 ... Receiving: Tyler Fandrich 4-95, Nett 2-57, Austin Nagel 1-13 ... Punting: Fandrich 3-34.7, Nett 1-29.0 ... Interceptions: none ... Fumble recoveries: Kaleb Lehmann