New London-Spice wins state footballtitle
MINNEAPOLIS - To appreciate the enormity of New London-Spicer's 28-22 victory over Glencoe-Silver Lake during the 28th addition of Prep Bowl consider:
n Coming in to the championship, the Panthers, ranked No. 1 all year in Class AAA, were 23-0 in post-season games since losing at the 2005 state tournament.
n The GSL defense had allowed five touchdowns in 13 games and only one field goal in their two state tournament wins.
n Glencoe-Silver Lake has been a dynasty in the young century: five Class AAA championships and eight straight state tournament appearances. New London-Spicer, meanwhile, hadn't sniffed the Dome, or any football state tournament game, until last November where they lost in the semifinals.
The upstart Wildcats finished a perfect 14-0. It took an explosive fourth quarter that produced three touchdowns to rub out GSL leads of 14-6 and then 21-12.
"It's amazing, indescribable," repeated quarterback Jayme Moten in a succession of post-game interviews standing on the Mall of America Field turf.
Moten went 7-for-7 passing for 125 yards in the fourth quarter lone. He connected on scoring plays covering 29 yards to Luke Peterson, 54 yards to Erik Tengwall and four-yards to Aaron Jenny, the last the game-winner with 3:06 left. Jenny, who had five catches for 100 yards, also caught conversion passes after each of the final two touchdowns.
"Jayme played phenomenal," said NLS head coach Dan Essler. "He was a pure quarterback in the fourth period."
Discounting the clock-draining last minute, the Wildcats scored on all three of their fourth-quarter possessions.
"We needed a stop," said Panthers second-year head coach Scott Tschimperle. "If you can't do it in the Prep Bowl, you don't deserve to win. You have to respect New London-Spicer and their quarterback. He made the plays."
The Wildcats' defense held the Panthers' notorious ground game to 121 yards.
Up 21-20, GSL was driving for another score with less than eight minutes on the clock. On fourth and 1 at the NLS 21, Aaron Lueders tried the middle of the Wildcats' defense but Justin Zylstra hit him low and John Nething high and drove the Panthers' leading rusher backwards two yards.
From there, the Wildcats marched 77 yards in nine plays. Moten went to junior wide receiver Brandon Zylstra three times for a total of 26 yards to the GSL 48 yard line.
Here the Wildcats used a bit of trickery. Moten passed to his running back Peterson in the flat and the former quarterback pulled up and heaved the ball downfield to Jenny who was brought down at the six.
Jake Essler made two yards on two snaps. On third, Moten went to Jenny over the middle in heavy traffic for the go-ahead score.
The Panthers still had three minutes. They'd already burned the Wildcats' twice on long-play-action touchdowns passes from Kyler Anderson to Lueders in the second half.
But this time linebacker Sam Schmid intercepted Anderson and after a long Kevin Soine punt with 12 seconds left, Nething picked off Anderson again.
"By far, that's the toughest team we've played," said Nething, who had a team-leading nine stops. "They are such a great team defensively."
But NLS got off to a great start just past noon. On their first possession, the Wildcats drove 47 yards in eight plays to score. Essler skirted end for 17 yards to the 13 and Peterson chewed off 11 to the one and then Essler went over at 7:06.
But the underdogs wouldn't score again until the first play of the final period when Moten threw a screen pass to Peterson, who made it 29 yards to the end zone untouched. The conversion pass failed and NLS still trailed 14-12.
Eleven seconds later the GSL lead was at 21-12. Anderson again surprised the Wildcats' defense with a fake run, followed by a pass play to Lueders covering 65 yards.
But NLS was not about to cave in to the Panthers' mystique. Moten faded back at his own 46 and threw a strike to wide receiver Erik Tengwall. In full stride, the NLS senior pulled it in at the GSL 15 and dragged cornerback Jon Ahlfs to the end zone for a touchdown and a 21-18 score.
The next 10 points were scored by Jenny, each time breaking over the middle to snag pin point deliveries from Moten.
"We didn't want to lose this game," said center Joey Sisser. "The entire year, we've never been satisfied. We came into this game expecting to win."
Coach Essler credit assistant coach Chad Gustafson for insisting on practicing those special passing plays that worked so well in the fourth quarter.
"The kids would ask, why do we practice these plays since we never use them?" said Essler. "Well, we waited until we needed them and maybe they went well because they'd been practiced a lot."
Despite the heavy odds favoring the Panthers, Essler said the team had a lot of confidence coming in.
"We had watched them on tape and I think our kids came away thinking we're faster; maybe they're a little bigger and maybe even a little stronger, but we felt we could play with them," said Essler.
The Wildcats outgained the Panthers (13-1) by 386 to 264 yards and overcame 12 penalties for 75 yards after surviving 143 yards on 17 flags in a 34-14 semifinal win over Kasson-Mantorville. Essler attributed many of those penalties to the edgy aggressiveness of the Wildcats along the line of scrimmage.
New London-Spicer 28, Glencoe-Silver Lake 21
Glencoe-Silver Lake 0 7 7 7 -- 21
New London-Spicer 6 0 0 22 -- 28
NLS - Jake Essler 1 run (kick fail)
GSL - Aaron Lueders 39 pass from Kyler Anderson (Kaine Dummer kick)
GSL - Lueders 3 run (Dummer kick)
NLS - Luke Peterson 29 pass from Jayme Moten (pass fail)
GSL - Lueders 65 pass from Anderson (Dummer kick)
NLS - Erik Tengwall 54 pass from Moten (Aaron Jenny pass from Moten)
NLS - Jenny 4 pass from Moten (Jenny pass from Moten)
First downs: 9 ... Rushing: 35-121 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 4-8-143-2 ... Fumbles lost: 0 ... Penalties: 2-10
Rushing: Kyler Anderson 12-49, Aaron Lueders 15-41, Ryan Style 6-18, Tony Mizuhata 2-13 ... Passing: Anderson 4-8-143-2 ... Receiving: Lueders 2-104, Cody Christensen 2-39 ... Punting: Anderson 4-30.2 ... Interceptions: none ... Fumble recoveries: none ... Tackles: Luke Alsleben 10, Mitch Keenan 9, Ben Slater 8, Jorrin Pautz 6, Trevor Lueder 5, Martin Martinez 4 ... QB sacks: Alsleben 1
First downs: 16 ... Rushing: 40-98 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 15-19-288-0 ... Fumbles lost: 0 ... Penalties: 12-75
Rushing: Jake Essler 16-42, Luke Peterson 14-31, Sam Schmid 4-16, John Nething 1-6, Jayme Moten 4-5, Derek Henle 1-1 ... Passing: Moten 14-17-242-0, Peterson 1-2-46-0 ... Receiving: Aaron Jenny 5-100, Brandon Zylstra 5-56, Erik Tengwall 2-75, Essler 2-28, Peterson 1-29 ... Punting: Kevin Soine 4-37.5 ... Interceptions: John Nething, Schmid ... Fumble recoveries: none ... Tackles (solo-assist): Nething 9, J. Zylstra 6, Peterson 4, Austin Wentzlaff 4, Shawn Hatlestad 3, Soine 3, Essler 2, Aaron Johnson 2 ... QB sacks: none