Litch, NLS on collision course

LITCHFIELD -- A year ago, Litchfield struggled to get into an offensive rhythm against Albany, which led to a 25-7 Dragons' loss for a state tournament berth.

LITCHFIELD -- A year ago, Litchfield struggled to get into an offensive rhythm against Albany, which led to a 25-7 Dragons' loss for a state tournament berth.

On Saturday, Litchfield's ground game dominated -- complemented by a precise passing attack -- and the Dragons' defense held strong with a 45-27 win over the Huskies in a Section 6AAA semifinal.

Litchfield (8-2) will play New London-Spicer in the section championship game -- the Dragons' second straight trip -- at 5 p.m. Friday at St. Cloud State University.

Unlike last season's section title game, Litchfield entered Saturday's rematch with Albany as the No. 1 seed.

But Albany showed an offensive spark on the game's first possession, driving the ball 86 yards to take an 8-0 lead.


Albany drove into Litchfield territory on its next possession, but was forced to punt.

"I think we just kind of figured it out and we calmed down," said Litchfield junior linebacker Jess Housman. "We came into the game all excited because it's been a long time since we've beaten Albany."

The calming effect came at the start of the second quarter, when the Dragons tied the game with a 13-play drive that ended with a six-yard touchdown pass from Kent Johnson to Alex Euerle.

Most of the yardage came from either Johnson or his sophomore brother, Nic, a fullback.

"Our strength is the ground game and we had to establish that early," said Kent Johnson, who rushed for 134 yards in 22 carries. "The line did an excellent job of blocking up front."

Nic Johnson, who led the team with 30 carries and 159 yards, shouldered the burden of the next Dragon scoring drive, plowing into the Albany defense six straight times before Jordan Lecher pulled in another Kent Johnson corner fade on a fourth down-and-14 play for a 16-8 lead.

Johnson and his receivers took advantage of the smaller Albany secondary with the touch passes.

"That was the game plan," Johnson said. "We knew their corners were shorter and our great playmakers at wide receiver have heighth there and they made the plays for us."


Lecher, who is 6-foot-1, Euerle (6-2) and Michael Bruesewitz (6-6) all caught two-point conversion passes. Johnson threw a total of three TD passes and finished with 77 yards.

Litchfield ran the ball 68 times for 353, controlling the clock for most of the second half.

Defensively, the Dragons forced six punts, recorded two quarterback sacks and intercepted one pass. Albany's ground game was held to 177 rushing yards and nothing through the air.

"This week in practice, our theme was 'Back to the Basics'. We went back to the things that won us the first few games and just focused hard on that," said Housman, who led the team with eight total tackles.

Litchfield 45, Albany 27

Albany (5-5) 8 0 6 14 -- 27

Litchfield (8-2) 0 16 14 15 -- 45

Alb - Kurt Schlangen 1 run (Schlangen run)


Litch - Alex Euerle 6 pass from Kent Johnson (Jordan Lecher pass from Johnson)

Litch - Lecher 29 pass from Johnson (Kyle Kusler pass from Johnson)

Litch - Johnson 1 run (run failed)

Litch - Kusler 7 pass from Johnson (Johnson run)

Alb - Ian Hoffarth 61 kickoff return (run failed)

Litch - Dustin Celander 5 run (Michael Bruesewitz pass from Johnson)

Litch - Nic Johnson 1 run (John Anderson kick)

Alb - Kyle Burg 48 run (kick blocked)


Alb - Burg 8 run (Zach Posterick run)


Team statistics

First downs: 7 ... Rushing: 33-177 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 0-2-0-1 ... Fumbles lost: none ... Penalties: 1-5

Individual statistics

Rushing: Jacob Sand 11-74, Kyle Burg 3-73, Kurt Schlangen 12-52 ... Passing: John Blenker 0-2-0-1 ... Receiving: none ... Punting: Kurt Overman 6-32.5 ... Interceptions: none ... Fumble recoveries: none ... Tackles (solo-assist): not available ... QB sacks: not available


Team statistics


First downs: 24 ... Rushing: 68-353 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 6-13-77-0 ... Fumbles lost: 1 ... Penalties: 4-30

Individual statistics

Rushing: Nic Johnson 30-159, Kent Johnson 22-134, Dustin Celander 8-29, Kyle Kusler 4-25 ... Passing: Kent Johnson 6-13-77-0 ... Receiving: Jordan Lecher 3-57, Alex Euerle 2-13, Kyle Kusler 1-7 ... Punting: Michael Bruesewitz 2-19, Taylor Berry 1-31 ... Interceptions: Steve Hendrickson ... Fumble recoveries: none ... Tackles (solo-assist): Jess Housman 2-6, Calvin Pehle 4-2, Jared Flemming 2-3, Alex Berglund 4-0, David Malepsy 3-1 ... QB sacks: Jess Housman 1, Alex Berglund 1

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