The State Class A quarterfinals game played Friday night in Mattke Field on the Southwest Minnesota State campus suffered from a split personality.
The State Class A quarterfinals game played Friday night in Mattke Field on the Southwest Minnesota State campus suffered from a split personality. The first half was played as if both teams were middle weight boxers testing each other with jabs, punches and counter punches with neither team establishing a decisive edge. The Adrian Dragons went into halftime with a narrow 15-12 lead. The second half was a distinctly different contest. The St. Mary’s defense backed Adrian into a corner and the offense punched their lights out.
Adrian scored first when a shaky St. Mary’s punt gave them the ball on their own 48. The Dragons kicked the extra point for a 7-0 score. The Knights counterpunched with a score of their own on a 68-yard, 12-play drive that featured several passes in the flat to Sean Mathiowetz capped by a 33-yard run up the sideline. Jordan Anderson ran the ball in from the three yard line; the conversion failed and St. Mary’s trailed 7-6.
The Dragons scored on their next possession on a pass from Mitchell Sieve to wide receiver Kyle Kilgore. They made the two-point conversion and extended their lead to 15-6. That would be the last time Adrian scored. St. Mary’s Jake Lilleodden took the kickoff and streaked to the Dragon’s 47 yard line. On fourth and one the Adrian defense bit on a Jordan Anderson run fake, and he lofted a pass to Joe Meyer on the Dragons 25 yard line. Meyer broke a tackle and rumbled into the end zone for six. The conversion failed with the Knights closing the gap to 15-12. Adam Sellner recovered the ensuing kickoff giving St. Mary’s a good chance to score, but an Anderson fumble on the Dragon’s 12 yard line snuffed out that opportunity and the half ended.
The second half did not get off to a good start when Anderson was intercepted and the Dragon’s got the ball at their own 27 yard line. On fourth and 11 from the St. Mary’s 14 yard line, Adrian tried a halfback option pass that Carter Krzmarzick smoked out and smothered the Adrian back for a huge loss. St. Mary’s coach Brent Kucera said before the game that Adrian likes to run trick plays and the Knights were ready for this one. St. Mary’s took over on downs and two plays later, Anderson broke off a 71-yard run to the Dragon’s two yard line. The quarterback draw play was open all night and Anderson took advantage of Adrian’s overreaction to what looked like the start of a pass play. Once Anderson got by the Dragon’s rush, he was gone. Mitch Neid punched the ball in for six and Scott Salfer went end-around for two points. The Knights took their first lead of the game, 20-15, with 2:56 remaining in the third quarter.
On the next possession Adrian was forced to punt and St. Mary’s took over on offense as the fourth quarter began. Anderson again broke off a 39-yard run to move the ball deep into Dragon territory. On fourth and three, Anderson hit Adam Sellner with a 19-yard pass for the TD. Mathiowetz made a beautiful over-the-shoulder catch for two and the Knights opened the gap 28-15.
Adrian could do nothing with their next possession and turned the ball over on downs. At this point in the game, it was clear that St. Mary’s had more depth, especially on offense, and could spread the ball around without relying on just a few players. The Dragons, on the other hand, were more one-dimensional, relying on their quarterback, Mitchell Sieve and their tall, rangy wide receiver Kyle Kilgore to carry the load on offense. Sieve seemed to be all over the place, but the Knights had the advantage of being able to focus their defense on shutting down these two talented players. Mathiowetz and Kilgore were playing a game within a game, with Kilgore covering Mathiowetz on defense and vice versa. As the game wore on into the fourth quarter, it was clear that Mathiowetz was coming out ahead in the match up, containing Kilgore and making him a non-factor in the final outcome.
Anderson made his second passing mistake of the game when he was intercepted. Adrian tried to mount a drive, but it was killed when an offensive pass interference call wiped out a nice gain, moving them back to their own 16 yard line. On fourth and 25 Adrian punted. The Knights ripped off several nice runs to eat up the clock and on fourth and three, Anderson hit Mathiowetz with a 14-yard pass for six with 1:18 left in the game. The conversion failed, cementing St. Mary’s lead at 34-15. The game was over and the Knights could think about heading for the Dome.
After the game, Kucera said, “We made a few small adjustments at halftime, but the big difference was that we cut down on our mistakes.” Quarterback Anderson said, “We just kept grinding at them. We tried to run a balanced offense and our defense really stepped up and stopped them cold.”
Jordan Anderson was a one-man highlight reel with 223 yards passing for three touchdowns and 174 yards rushing with one TD. Scott Salfer ran for 28 yards. On the receiving end, Sean Mathiowetz caught passes for 123 yards and one TD, Joe Meyer had 43 yards and one TD, Adam Sellner had 39 yards and a TD and Tanner Weiss had 19 through the air. The defensive leader was Kyle Krzmarzick with 10 solo tackles, one assist and one sack. Brady Hansen had six solo tackles, Sean Mathiowetz had five solo tackles, Dave Surprenant had five solo tackles and one assist, and Josh Kopacek had three solo tackles.
Now the Knights go to Mall of America Field at the Metrodome for a 10:15 a.m. match-up on Friday, Nov. 18 with Mahnomen, who come into the State Class A semi-finals undefeated.