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Falcons grounded

ST. CLOUD -- A yard here, two yards there and the Falcons might be in the state tournament. Instead, Eden Valley-Watkins stopped Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City just short of state again, this time 20-13 on Thursday evening at Husky Field. For the four...

ST. CLOUD -- A yard here, two yards there and the Falcons might be in the state tournament.

Instead, Eden Valley-Watkins stopped Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City just short of state again, this time 20-13 on Thursday evening at Husky Field.

For the fourth year in a row, the Eagles are headed into the Class AA quarterfinals, while the Falcons pack up after a Section 5AA loss.

"It's a tough loss, disappointing, because I thought we dominated the line of scrimmage the whole game," said Nic Leither, a fullback/linebacker who has started four years for ACGC. "But they're a really talented team and I think we both played really well. It was really a great game."

That it was -- two excellent defenses able to muffle a couple of potent offenses for most of the game. Each team averaged 40 points or better coming in.

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ACGC owned the time of possession. The Falcons punched the ball in after deliberate drives, one the length of the field on the game's first possession and another from midfield in the fourth quarter.

But the Eagles struck quickly with its nimble passing game, helmed by senior Kiel Tschumperlin.

"They're quick at every spot," said senior captain Vance Martin, one of nine two-way starters for the Falcons. "Their speed is the thing and they were the hardest hitting team we've played."

The Falcons took the opening kickoff and marched downfield in a 13-play drive.

The drive nearly stalled at the 17, but on fourth down Kurtis Huisman swept the left side for the score. The 17-yard burst would be the Falcons' longest play from scrimmage all night.

The Eagles struck back immediately. Tschumperlin, who had thrown for 1,250 yards coming in, lofted deep to Nick Schoenecker for a 48-yard gain to the Falcons' 19. Six plays later, the Eagles' shifty Jerrod Nohner burst in from the two-yard line.

The Falcons had a chance to go up before halftime. On first-and-goal from the eight, they burrowed to the one in three plays. On fourth down, the Eagles stopped Jordan Haag up the middle a foot short of the goal line.

Both teams had played the first half without a turnover, but the third quarter turned into a bad dream for ACGC.

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The Falcons would fumble four times and lose three. The defense fell for a double-reverse flea-flicker to start the quarter. Tschumperlin dished the ball to Ryan Tri, who delivered a handoff to Dustin Kramer, who then pitched it back to the quarterback.

By that time, Matt Schrieber was alone on the 10-yard line, waiting for the pass and he trotted in untouched.

EVW tackle Zach Schwartz recovered a muffed handoff at the ACGC four and Riley Rice soon dashed off left tackle for a 20-7 Eagles' lead after the PAT failed with 7:27 showing in the third quarter.

The Falcons didn't give up. Early in the fourth, they drove 43 yards with quarterback Jordan Tanner running up the middle from eight yards out to make it 20-13 at 9:43 in the last quarter.

After an Eagles penalty and an ACGC time out, the Falcons went for the two-point conversion from the 1ยฝ-yard line but again couldn't get in.

Head coach Terry Karlsgodt, said it stung when the Falcons' bread-and-butter rushing game didn't produce in those short-yardage situations.

"We expect to make 2ยฝ yards at a crack," he said. "We just didn't get squared up and maybe our backs went in to straight up, but they (the Eagles' defense) did a good job."

The Falcons had one last shot driving from their own 28. They needed two more yards for a first down but the defensive front gobbled up Huisman inches short with 3:00 left at the Eagles' 28.

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"They're an excellent ball team," said Tschumperlin who started at wide receiver on the Eagles team that won the state title in 2005. "We knew we had to play well, but we were pretty sure we could stand up to them physically. The offensive line did a good job protecting me and the defense made the kind of plays we expect of them this time of the year."

ACGC lost in the section final to EVW for the third time in four years.

"It's disappointing but I'm really proud of these kids," said Karlsgodt. "It was a dogfight; we played a good game. These may have been the two best teams in AA playing here tonight."

Husiman rushed 28 times for 121 yards and Haag 24 times for 86 yards.

EVW 20, ACGC 13

ACGC (9-2) 7 0 0 6 -- 13

EV-Watkins (11-0) 7 0 13 0 -- 20

ACGC - Kurtis Huisman 17 run (Kyle Johnson kick)

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EVW - Jerrod Nohner 2 run (Ryan Tri kick kick)

EVW - Matt Schreiber 37 pass from Kiel Tschumperlin (Tri kick)

EVW - Riley Rice 4 run (kick failed)

ACGC - Jordan Tanner 8 run (run failed)

Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City

Team statistics

Not available

Individual statistics

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Rushing: Kurtis Huisman 28-121, Nic Leither 10-60, Jordan Haag 24-86 ... Passing: Jordan Tanner 2-6-13-0 ... Receiving: n/a ... Punting: n/a ... Interceptions: none ... Fumble recoveries: none ... Tackles (solo-assist): n/a ... QB sacks: n/a

Eden Valley-Watkins

Team statistics

Not available

Individual statistics

Rushing: Jerrod Nohner 18-69, Riley Rice 2-5, Ryan Tri 1-2 ... Passing: Kiel Tschumperlin 8-22-143-0 ... Receiving: Tri 1-11, Nohner 2-15, Matt Schreiber 2-45, Dustin Kramer 2-24, Nick Schoenecker 1-48 ... Punting: n/a ... Interceptions: none ... Fumble recoveries: n/a ... Tackles (solo-assist): n/a ... QB sacks: n/a

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