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High School Football: Willmar Cardinals finish off No. 1 Hutchinson Tigers

Willmar stuns state power Hutchinson, 28-24

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Willmar's Eli Jorgenson (5) runs by a pair of Hutchinson defenders for a kickoff return touchdown in Friday's game at Hodapp Field. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

WILLMAR — After two straight weeks of fourth-quarter struggles against Sauk Rapids and Rocori, Willmar found a way to finish on Friday night.

And it did it against the top team in Class AAAA.

Down 24-14 at halftime, a pair of Alex Schramm touchdown runs put the 10th-ranked (in Class AAAA) Cardinals ahead by four. Then the Willmar defense stood pat, holding the Tigers scoreless in the second half to secure a 28-24 victory at Hodapp Field.

The win is the Cardinals’ first over Hutchinson since Oct. 26, 2010 when Willmar defeated Hutchinson 21-7 in the Section 2AAAA playoffs.

“This feels good, especially after last week’s game against Rocori,” said senior wide receiver/defensive back Eli Jorgenson. “We had a good week of practice getting ready for this one.”

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Jorgenson was the player to bookend the Cardinals’ upset victory.

On the opening kickoff, Jorgenson corralled the ball and ran 85 yards for a touchdown.

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Willmar's Eli Jorgenson (5) and Alex Schramm (13) celebrate after Jorgenson scored on the opening kickoff during Friday's game against Hutchinson at Hodapp Field. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

“They squib kicked it and I actually bobbled it,” Jorgenson said. “I looked up and there was a hole and the only guy there was the kicker. I got outside of him and I was able to score.”

Then late in the fourth quarter and Willmar leading by four, a pass by the Tigers’ Colin Nagel fell into Jorgenson’s hands for the game-clinching interception.

“That’s a great night,” Cardinals head coach Jon Konold said of Jorgenson. “We had to get something going on special teams. Hutchinson is a team built on lessening possessions, so we had to steal something.”

Willmar had a 14-8 lead after an 18-yard touchdown run by quarterback Alex Schramm early in the second quarter. But before the break, the Tigers capitalized on a blocked punt and a three-and-out to get a pair of scores and a 24-14 halftime lead.

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While the Cardinals’ defense stonewalled Hutchinson, there was no slowing down Schramm. The junior signal-caller cut the deficit to 24-21 with 5 minutes, 3 seconds left in the third with a 38-yard TD run. Then after Willmar got the ball at midfield following an Aaron Watland interception, Schramm put the Cardinals up for good with a 6-yard rushing score with 1:51 remaining in the third.

“First, all the credit goes to my offensive line,” said Schramm, who outran Hutchinson by himself, going for 186 yards on 29 carries. “After the first half, we knew we could run on them. We had some big holes and we were able to execute.”

Along with the second-half shutout, the Cardinals’ defense had four takeaways, with interceptions from Aaron Watland and Jorgenson along with a pair of fumble recoveries by Tyler Ludwig.

The Cardinals have their home finale on Friday against Big Lake. The Hornets are 0-3 and face Delano at home Saturday.

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Willmar's Brandt Sunder (17) comes up with a sideline catch against a Hutchinson defender for a 30-yard reception in Friday's game at Hodapp Field. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Willmar 28,
Hutchinson 24

Hutchinson (3-1) 8 16 0 0 — 24
Willmar (3-1) 7 7 14 0 — 28
Scoring Plays
W – Eli Jorgenson 85 kickoff return (LaBlue Moo kick)
H – Mitchell Piehl 45 run (Colin Nagel run)
W – Alex Schramm 18 run (Moo kick)
H – Ty Glaser 2 run (Tristan Hoppe pass from Nagel)
H – Sam Rensch 54 pass from Nagel (Hoppe pass from Nagel)
W – Schramm 38 run (Moo kick)
W – Schramm 6 run (Moo kick)

Hutchinson

First downs: 9 … Penalties: 1-5 … Rushing (Individual and team): Mitchell Piehl 18-111, Colin Nagel 12-16, Ty Glaser 4-17, Sam Rensch 1-2. 35-146 … Passing (Individual and team): Nagel 5-15-144-2 ... Receiving (Individual and team): Rensch 2-83, Aaron Elliott 2-42, Piehl 1-19 … Interceptions: None … Fumble recoveries: Riley Anderson 1 … Tackles (solo-assist): N/A … QB sacks: N/A

Willmar

First downs: 13 … Penalties: 3-20 … Rushing (Individual and team): Michael Price 15-36, Alex Schramm 29-186, Jacob Streed 3-(-4). 47-218 … Passing (Individual and team): Schramm 5-10-65-0, Streed 2-3-30-0. 7-15-95-0 ... Receiving (Individual and team): Schramm 1-15, Jacob Rosendahl 4-36, Brandt Sunder 2-44 … Interceptions: Aaron Watland 1, Eli Jorgenson … Fumble recoveries: Tyler Ludwig 2 … Tackles (solo-assist): N/A … QB sacks: N/A

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Willmar quarterback Alex Schramm runs through a Hutchinson tackle for an 18-yard touchdown in the first half of Friday's game at Hodapp Field. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

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