Willmar foiled in finale

MOORHEAD -- The Moorhead Spuds converted three Willmar turnovers into touchdowns on the way to dumping the Cardinals 32-12 in a non-conference meeting to end the regular season.

MOORHEAD -- The Moorhead Spuds converted three Willmar turnovers into touchdowns on the way to dumping the Cardinals 32-12 in a non-conference meeting to end the regular season.

Willmar (4-4) still gets to host Hutchinson (4-4), which beat Shakopee 34-0 last night, in the first round of the Section 2AAAA playoffs at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Willmar has the edge on Hutchinson with a win over a Class AAAAA team (St. Cloud Tech).

Moorhead showed a 5-to-1 advantage in turnovers and a 329-253 lead in yards.

With the temperature in the mid-30s at Jim Gotta Stadium, the Spuds (5-3) marched the opening kickoff 80 yards for a 6-0 lead at 6:39 of the first quarter. Much of the yardage came on the strong legs of Tony Emmerich, but quarterback Nick Thielen rolled the last three yards for an early 6-0 lead.

The defense was under pressure the entire half as Willmar lost two fumbles and the Spuds twice picked off quarterback Alec Saunders.


The sophomore signal-caller was making his first varsity start. He got his initiation in the fourth quarter against Rocori, subbing for injured Michael Dunham (ankle sprain), who may be ready by Tuesday.

The Willmar defense held at its own 20 after the first turnover, but after a tipped interception the Spuds took advantage and Thielen tossed to Zach Johnson for a 32-yard touchdown and a 12-0 bulge.

Willmar generated one march overlapping the quarter break that got the ball to the Moorhead 27 on runs by Levi Brown, playing with a hip bruise, and also Cory Hanson, but it ended with a lost fumble on an option play. Joel Schendel made an interception to get the ball back but Willmar quickly punted after Hanson got pinned for a 21-yard loss.

In the third quarter, Willmar couldn't move after the taking the kickoff and Moorhead's Logan Werlinger dashed 58-yards on his first rush to make it 19-0. Moments later, at 9:22, a pitch to Hanson misfired and Josh Kleckner picked up the bouncing ball and danced a short distance to the end zone.

This time, Willmar answered as the offense seemed to find the timing missing the first half. Saunders tossed to Andy Boersma for a 12-yard pickup to the Spuds' 30. Hanson spun 20 yards to the 10. On third down from the 10, Saunders hit Jordan Smith on a fade in the end zone corner, 25-6.

Again, Saunders marched the Cardinals back up field 87 yards in 11 plays, keeping twice for first downs and throwing for two others. Andy Boersma sliced the last 20 yards and it was 25-12.

That seemed to get the Spuds' attention. They barged down the field with Emmerich going the last two for a 32-12 lead.

Willmar had two players leave the hard-hitting contest with injuries: defensive tackle Adam Schow (possible ankle sprain) and linebacker Trent Molacek (possible concussion).


Molacek had nine tackles, Ben Lippert and Jarod Hennen 13 apiece and Justin Schwieger 11. Saunders threw for 86 yards on 9 of 19 and Hanson rushed for 96 yards on 18 attempts.

Moorhead 32, Willmar 12

Willmar (4-4) 0 0 6 6 -- 12

Moorhead (5-3) 12 0 13 7 -- 32

Mhd - Nick Thielen 3 run (kick fail)

Mhd - Zach Johnson 32 pass from Thielen (pass fail)

Mhd - Logan Werlinger 58 yards (Johnson kick)

Mhd - Josh Kleckner 7 yard fumble return (kick fail)


Wil - Jordan Smith 10 pass from Alec Saunders (kick failed)

Wil - Andy Boersma 20 run (pass fail)

Mhd - Tony Emmerich 2 run (Johnson kick)


Team statistics

First downs: 16 ... Rushing: 30-169 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 9-19-86-2 ... Fumbles lost: 3 ... Penalties: 5-47

Individual statistics

Rushing: Levi Brown 4-14, Cory Hanson 18-96, Andy Boersma 3-28, Alec Saunders 5-31, ... Passing: Alec Saunders 9-19-86-2... Receiving: Jordan Smith 5-51, Boersma 3-24, Ryan DeGree 1-11 ... Punting: Smith 2-44.5... Interceptions: Joel Schendel ... Fumble recoveries: none ... Tackles (solo-assist): Schendel 1-2, Mitch Schneider 0-1, Keith Olson 2-0, Jordan Smith 1-0, Cory Hanson 1-1, Jarod Hennen 4-9, Brett Blomquist 1-0, Adam Schow 1-0, Josh Mead 2-5, Branden Jahnke 0-1, Rene Vallejo 0-2, Humberto Garcia 0-1, Ryan DeGree 0-3, Griffin Leitch 1-2, Trent Molacek 4-5, Ben Lippert 0-13, Justin Schwiger 3-8, Jake Morris 1-0, Noel Anderson 0-1, Adam Kremer 1-2 ... QB sacks: none



Team statistics

First downs: 16 ... Rushing: 42-247 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 7-16-82-1 ... Fumbles lost: none ... Penalties: 4-40

Individual statistics

Rushing: Tony Emmerich 25-114, Nick Thielen 4-12, Logan Werlinger 2-69 ... Passing: Thielen 7-16-82-1... Receiving: Zach Johnson3-38, Erik Lein 1-21, Kyle Van Dyke 1-13, Ryan Cook 1-6, Emmerich 1-4... Punting: Johnson 3-30.0 ... Interceptions: Mike Blake, Alex Pearson, ... Fumble recoveries: Nate Arends, Erick Dowling, Josh Kleckner

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