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Prep Football: Essler, Wildcats run wild in St. Cloud

By Tom Elliott, St. Cloud Times

ST. CLOUD — There was scoring and more scoring, from great distance and from close-in.

There was a lot of passing and some great individual effort. In the end, New London-Spicer beat Annandale 66-46 in the Section 6AAA championship Friday evening at Husky Stadium.

Imagine what the basketball score would’ve been.

Top-seeded New London-Spicer (8-2) advances to the state Class 3A playoffs. The Wildcats play Dilworth-Glydon-Felton (8-2) at 5 p.m. this Saturday back at Husky Stadium in the state quarterfinals.

Second-seeded Annandale (7-4) sees its two-year reign as section champion end.

“(It’s the) craziest game I’ve ever been a part of,” New London-Spicer head coach Dan Essler said. “It was really special tonight.”

New London-Spicer led 30-24 at halftime and it got even more hectic in the second half.

“It truly became a game of turnovers,” Essler said. “Each team was going at it with everything they had ....

“Annandale is just a bunch of offensive playmakers. They came up with some incredible plays and it all came down to us making the stops.”

In the final 24 minutes, Wildcats running back Adam Essler rushed 15 times for 164 yards and three touchdowns. He also caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Vraa, again in the second half. Essler finished running for 301 yards and also hauled in 2 Vraa passes — both for TDs — to pile up another 63 yards.

In the first half, Vraa ran for a TD to start the scoring, a 30-yarder.

Annandale tied it right back up when Matt Miller tossed a 10-yard TD to Kyler Fobbe.

Then Eassler and Vraa hooked up for the first time, a 28-yard TD that gave New London-Spicer a 14-8 lead with 11:54 to go in the second quarter.

Annandale regained the lead when Fobbe caught a 16-yard TD from Riley Atkinson and Andrew Russek ran in the two-point conversion to make it Annandale 16, New London-Spicer 14.

The Wildcats then regained the lead when Ben Beuning scored on a one-yard plunge to make it NLS 22, Ananndale 16.

Annandale got the lead back on Miller’s 11-yard pass from Atkinson. Fobbe then caught a two-point conversion pass to put the Cardinals up 24-22 with 1:09 to go until halftime.

New London-Spicer retaliated when Jarrett Hatlestad caught a 26-yard TD pass from Vraa and Essler ran in the two-point conversion to make it NLS 30, Annandale 22 at the end of a breathtaking first half.

In the second half, Russek opened the scoring on a three-yard run. Fobbe then caught a pass from Atkinson to give Annandale a 32-30 lead at the 10:11 mark of the third quarter.

The Cardinals extended their lead when Atkinson scored on a 1-yard quarterback keeper to make it 38-30 with 5:04 to go in the third quarter.

Essler then scored on an eight-yard power run and Trey Austvold made the two-point run to tie it up at 38-38 with 1:13 to go in the third quarter.

The Wildcats took the lead for good on Essler’s 35-yard TD pass from Vraa with 10:45 to play. Essler’s two-point run made it 46-38.

Essler added a 68-yard run to put the Wildcats up 52-38 with 8:01 to go.

Annandale closed it up to 52-46 as Fobbe caught a 58-yard TD pass from Miller and Russek ran in the two-point conversion.

But Essler, once again, had a 38-yard TD run with 6:05 to go and his two-point run made it 60-46.

Vraa finished off the frantic night with a 17-yard scoring dash with 2:53 to go, the game’s 15th touchdown.

When it had ended, the Wildcats ran for 446 yards and Cardinals receiver Kyler Fobbe had snagged 10 passes for 200 yards and three TDs.

NLS 66, Annandale 46

NLS (8-2)              8 22 8 28 — 66

Annandale (7-4)               8 16 8   8 — 46

NLS – Ryan Vraa 30 run (Adam Essler run)

Ann – Kyler Fobbe 10 pass from Matt Miller (Barrett Bataille pass from Riley Atkinson)

NLS – Essler 28 pass from Vraa (pass failed)

Ann – K. Fobbe 16 pass from Atkinson (Andrew Russek run)

NLS – Ben Beuning 1 run (Essler run)

Ann – Miller 11 pass from Atkinson (K. Fobbe pass from Atkinson)

NLS – Jarrett Hatlestad 26 pass from Vraa (Essler run)

Ann – Russek 3 run (K. Fobbe pass from Atkinson)

Ann – Atkinson 1 run (pass failed)

NLS – Essler 8 run (Trey Austvold run)

NLS – Essler 35 pass from Vraa (Essler run)

NLS – Essler 69 run (run failed)

Ann – K. Fobbe 58 pass from Miller (Russek run)

NLS – Essler 38 run (Essler run)

NLS – Vraa 17 run (fail) 

New London-Spicer

First downs: 25 … Rushing: 51-446 … Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 7-9-116-1 … Fumbles lost: 0 … Penalties: 5-58

Rushing: Adam Essler 28-301, Ben Beuning 7-32, Trey Austvold 4-43, Ryan Vraa 3-63, Jarrett Hatlestad 8-10, Shane Zylstra 1-(-3) … Passing: Vraa 7-9-116-1 ... Receiving: Hatlestad 3-38, Zylstra 1-11, Essler 2-63, Brett Olson 1-4 … Punting: Vraa 2-41.5  … Interceptions: Austvold … Fumble recoveries: Zylstra, Hatlestad  … Tackles (solo-assist): Beuning 8-1, Eben Pederson 7-1, Austvold 6-1, Eric Schnieder 5-2, Hatlestad 4-3, Essler 5-1, Zylstra 4-0, Ethan Bohlsen 3-0, Luke Gould 2-2, Jarod Vossen 4-0, Chris Nelson 2-0, James Magnuson 2-0, Ethan Parsons 3-1, Kellon Knutson 0-1 … QB sacks: Gould 1


First downs: 25 … Rushing: 40-163… Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 19-37-314-1 … Fumbles lost: 2 … Penalties: 3-29

Rushing: Atkinson 3-(-8), Russek 16-105, Miller 16-51, Spencer Ogden 5-15 … Passing: Atkinso n 16-34-234-1, Miller 3-3-80-2 ... Receiving: Miller 4-51, Kyler Fobbe 10-200, Russek 3-33 … Punting: Miller 1-28.0