Morris holds off YME in shootout

MORRIS -- Sometimes the smaller plays that lead up to the bigger plays get forgotten after a game. Things like a key bunt before a game-winning hit in baseball, a key poke-check prior to a goal in hockey or a save of a ball heading out of bounds ...

MORRIS -- Sometimes the smaller plays that lead up to the bigger plays get forgotten after a game. Things like a key bunt before a game-winning hit in baseball, a key poke-check prior to a goal in hockey or a save of a ball heading out of bounds just before a game-winning shot in basketball.

There were numerous plays that were over-shadowed by stellar per-formances in Morris Area's 37-36 victory over Yellow Medicine East in the Section 6AA semifinals Saturday night at Big Cat Stadium.

A diving catch to keep a drive alive or a blocked extra point aren't going to make the rounds at morning coffee when Tigers' quarterback Taylor Witt passed for 416 yards and three touchdowns or receivers Craig Knoch-enmus and Brett Anderson each caught passes for over 100 yards.

"We've had a lot of those kind of plays all year." said Morris Area coach Jerry Witt, who saw his son move into third place for the state's single-season passing leaders with 3,121 yards.

Consider these plays among many that were monumental in leading to the victory, but seemingly forgotten when the dust settled following the thrilling battle.


Early in the third quarter, YME trailed 21-14 and put together a 73-yard drive that was keyed by a 44-yard pass from Shawn Neu to Andrew Gunderson.

Joey Hegland then scored on a 14-yard run, but the extra point was blocked by Anderson. One point that didn't loom as large in the third quarter.

With Morris clinging to a 30-28 lead with just over nine minutes remaining in the game and facing a 2nd-and-30 situation following an intentional grounding penalty, Witt flung a ball over the middle that was tipped by receiver Justin Lund, then by two defenders before Lund pulled it down while falling on his back for a 25-yard gain. That kept the drive alive and the Tigers went on to score the eventual winning touchdown when Witt connected with Anderson from four yards out with 7:37 remaining.

"It was a great game," said YME coach Mike Gaffaney. "I think we played well, but unfortunately, someone had to lose. That's just the way it is."

Witt completed 24-of-49 passes with two interceptions. Knochenmus, Morris' top receiver with 62 receptions for 886 yards, was doubled-teamed a lot, but managed eight catches for 155 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown.

"I love playing in this offense," he said. "We can score at any time. I'm glad I was able to help us get a win."

Morris led 29-26 with 11:55 remaining when it began a drive on its own 12. But a snap out of shotgun formation bounced into the end zone. Instead of risking YME falling on it for the go-ahead touchdown, Witt ran back and booted the ball out of the back of the end zone, making the score 29-28.

YME got the ball right back on a free kick, but were not able to mount any kind of an attack and Morris then took over and scored on a nine-play, 85-yard drive on Witt's short pass to Anderson, then converted the two-pointer on a Witt-to-Tony Schultz pass.


YME then mounted a seven-play, 61-yard drive that was capped by Kyle Gaffaney's one-yard touchdown, his second on the day. Neu then hit Joey Hegland with the two-point conversion.

The Sting got the ball back when Dylan Hempel came up with his second interception of the day, giving the Sting one last chance on its own 25 with two minutes left in the game. Neu hit consecutive passes covering 13 and 12 yards to Hegland and Hempel, respectively, then added an 11-yard scamper with 1:22 to go. But his deep pass on the next play was picked off by Witt.

Neu completed 11-of-16 passes for 198 yards.

Morris 37, YME 36

YME (7-3) 7 7 12 10 -- 36

Morris (8-2) 0 21 8 8 -- 37

YME - Kyle Gaffaney 2 run (Dan Johnson kick)

Mor - Travis Moser 2 run (Nathan Lund kick)


Mor - Craig Knochenmus 18 pass from Taylor Witt (Lund kick)

YME - Joe Hegland 7 run (Johnson kick)

Mor - Witt 1 run (Lund kick)

YME - Hegland 14 run (kick blocked)

Mor - Brett Anderson 11 pass from Witt (Knochenmus pass from Witt)

YME - Shawn Neu 1 run (run failed)

YME - Safety. Ball kick out of end zone.

Mor - Anderson 4 pass from Witt (Tony Schultz pass from Witt)


YME - Gaffaney 1 run (Heland pass from Neu)

Yellow Medicine East

Team statistics

First downs: 21 ... Rushing: 51-208 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 11-16-198-1 ... Fumbles lost: 2 ... Penalties: 5-44

Individual statistics

Rushing: Joey Hegland 18-84, Jarett Berg 15-79, Shawn Neu 10-33, Kyle Gaffaney 8-23 ... Passing: Neu 11-16-198-1 ... Receiving: Dylan Hempel 4-77, Andrew Gunderson 2-57, Hegland 2-53, Landen Cole 1-7, Kenton Johnson 1-6, Gaffaney 1-(-2) ... Punting: Andrew Walters 5-30.6 ... Interceptions: Hempel 2 ... Fumble recoveries: Casey Luepke 1 ... Tackles (solo-assist): Martin Hagen 6-4, Gaffaney 6-2, Neu 6-1, Luepke 5-1, Brad Hildahl 3-2, Gunderson 3-1, Hempel 4-1, Berg 2-0, Evan Stock 3-1, Rob Stengel 1-0, Dan Johnson 1-0, Wyatt Sand 1-1, Ian Olson 1-0, Kenton Johnson 0-1 ... QB sacks: Luepke 2

Morris Area

Team statistics


First downs: 20 ... Rushing: 19-25 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 24-49-416-2 ... Fumbles lost: 1 ... Penalties: 9-65

Individual statistics

Rushing: Travis Moser 12-23, Taylor Witt 10-27, Tony Schultz 1-0 ... Passing: Witt 24-49-416-2 ... Receiving: Craig Knochenmus 8-156, Brett Anderson 8-101, Justin Lund 3-47, Tony Schultz 3-47, Nathan Lund 2-65 ... Punting: Justin Johnson 1-29.0, Witt 4-43.0 ... Interceptions: Witt 1 ... Fumble recoveries: Anderson 1, Jared Harstad 1 ... Tackles (solo-assist): N.Lund 7-4, Anderson 6-6, J.Lund 6-3, Kirby Sayles 5-3, Danton Hein 4-3, Moser 4-1, Schultz 3-2, Mike Morales 3-0, Harstad 2-3, Knochenmus 2-0, Witt 2-0, Johnson 1-3, Mitch Hughes 1-0, Craigan Wulf 0-1, Chris Scott 0-1, Travis Thooft 0-1 ... QB sacks: none

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