Unfulfilled road trip
ALEXANDRIA -- The Willmar Cardinals lost their third straight Friday night but challenged Alexandria until late in the fourth quarter before bowing 28-12 in Central Lakes Conference football.
Sophomore Mike Dunham -- the third starter Willmar has had at quarterback this fall -- directed a pair of long touchdown drives mainly through the air. The defense gave up yards grudgingly until wearing down in the fourth.
The Cardinals (3-3), who were turnover free after committing four a week ago in a 21-0 loss at Sauk Rapids, are back home for the first time in a month to play Brainerd Friday.
Dunham, 6-1, 160 pounds, completed 12 of 25 passes for 160 yards, behind good protection from the offensive line. But the running game again was stymied and netted just 40 yards.
Willmar went up 6-0 on the first play of the second quarter with an impressive 80-yard drive -- the first sustained scoring march by the first team in 10 quarters.
Dunham completing four passes for a total of 61 yards: 14 yards to Eric Manz, 25 to Steve Hedlof and 17 to Ross Van Hauen to just inside the Alexandria 10. From there, Dunham faked a handoff and flipped a five-yard strike to Van Hauen in the back of the end zone.
Alexandria answered with a long drive of their own -- all on the ground except for a 15-yard pass interference call. Woody Wagner, a 195-pound fullback, went in from the one with 37 seconds left in the first half. The extra-point kick gave Alexandria a 7-6 lead at the halftime break.
Willmar stopped Alexandria twice in the third quarter, but the offense was unable to move. A Willmar fake punt near midfield went no where and Alexandria took over.
It appeared the defense would hold but on fourth and eight from the 20, quarterback Eric Hartmann hit speedy Derek Ludwig on a slant-in and he ran in for the touchdown with 14 seconds showing in the third quarter. Willmar had the ball starting the fourth, trailing 14-6.
Mixing the run and the pass, Dunham directed another long drive. Running backs Tyler Horning and Cory Hanson found space for modest gains. Passes went to Erik Hillenbrand and two to Manz, the second a 26-yard pitch and run to the nine. Willmar got a pass interference call on a fourth down; one play later Manz nosed in from the three. The two-point conversion run failed and it was still 14-12.
Alexandria made a fourth and two conversion near midfield and quickly went in for their third score -- a sneak by Hartmann -- for a 21-12 lead. Wagner added a TD in the last minute and finished with 109 yards rushing. Ben Saari-Bovre added 105.
Willmar linebacker Justin Schwiger was in on 22 tackles.
Alexandria 21, Willmar 12
Willmar (3-3, 3-3) 0 6 0 6 -- 12
Alexandria (3-1, 4-2) 0 7 7 14 -- 28
Wil - Ross Van Hauen 5 pass from Mike Dunham (kick blocked) 11:50 2nd quarter
Alx - Woody Wagner 1 run (David Vinje kick) ) 0:37 2nd quarter
Alx - Derek Ludwig 20 pass from Eric Hartmann (Vinje kick) :14 third quarter.
Wil - Eric Manz 3 run (run fail) 8:00 4th quarter.
Alx - Hartmann 1 run (Vinje kick) 4:34, 4th quarter
Alx - Wagner 15 run (Vinje kick) :35 4th quarter.
First downs: 12 ... Rushing: 27-40 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 12-25-160-0 ... Fumbles lost: 0... Penalties: 4-40
Rushing: Mike Dunham 5-(-3), Cory Hanson 8-10, Eric Manz 6-8, Tyler Horning 6-28 .... Passing: Dunham 12-25-160-0.... Receiving: Manz 3-48, Van Hauen 2-21, Steve Hedlof 2-39, Hanson 3-32, Erik Hillenbrand 2-20 .... Punting: Jordan Smith 4-28.6. Interceptions: none .... Fumble recoveries: none .... Tackles (solo-assist): Tyler Horning 0-4, Zach Kjolsing 0-2, Kylre Birkland 1-4, Steve Hedlof 4-4, Erick Manz 0-5, Adam Schow 1-3, Rene Vallejo 1-1, Ross Van Hauen 1-4, Levi Brown 0-4, Trent Molacek 1-3, Jsutin Schwieger 3-19, Josh Bernhagen 1-7, Kent Underland 0-2, Adam Kremer 0-2, Jake Lefever 0-3, Mike Iliff 1-5 ... QB sacks: Manz ½, Iliff ½
First downs: 13 ... Rushing: 47-204 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 3-5-27-0 ... Fumbles lost: 1 ... Penalties: 7-42
Rushing: Woody Wagner 25-109, Ben Saari-Bovre 18-105, Eric Hartmann 4-(-10) .... Passing: Eric Hartmann 3-5-27-0 .... Receiving: Derek Ludwig 1-20, Mitch Kluver 1-5, Wagner 1-2.... Punting: Cody Curry 4-32.0
NEXT -- Willmar: Friday, home vs. Brainerd