Section 3A football: Adrian, T-M-B advance
ADRIAN —They say defense wins championships in the game of football, and Adrian used it effectively Saturday afternoon, taking a strong first step toward a Section 3A football championship.
The Dragons stopped St. Clair time and time again in a bend-don’t-break defensive chess match under clear skies and a nippy north wind. Adrian triumphed over the Cyclones 18-2 to move on to the section’s final tilt, slated for Friday at 5 p.m.
Also victorious in the section was Tracy-Milroy-Balaton. The Panthers downed United South Central 20-14 and will meet Adrian in the final at Southwest State University’s Mattke Field in Marshall.
“I thought our defense was solid throughout and that we played a good solid football game,” Adrian coach Randy Strand said. “The defensive line played well, but everybody played well. St. Clair only has two wins, but they are a pretty darn good football team.”
Adrian gave itself a 16-0 lead going into halftime, breaking the ice in the wake of a scoreless first frame. Adrian senior Jordan Dingmann plowed into the end zone on a seven-yard run at the 9:27 mark of the second quarter. The Dragons piled onto their 8-0 lead with a Logan Rogers two-yard keeper to pay dirt.
After both teams came up emptyhanded on their opening drives of the second half, St. Clair senior John Goebal pinned Rogers deep in his own end zone for a safety. Adrian senior defensive lineman Andy McCann returned the favor, with a safety of his own less than three minutes later, helping to finish off the win for the blue-and-gold.
McCann finished the day with 10 stops for the Dragons to go with a sack and a safety as Adrian entered the game hoping to stuff the Cyclones’ rushing attack.
The Dragons did that to the best of their ability and allowed St. Clair just 94 yards on the ground and nothing through the air. St. Clair quarterback Tyler Fandrich was 0-for-14 on the day passing. Dragon junior Jesse Slater had a team-best 12 tackles.
“We all played well as a defense and almost had a shutout. We all did well today,” McCann said. “We just wanted to stop the run today and make them pass. Everyone on our defense was on today. They did a good job.”
Dingmann led the way on the ground for his team offensively with 22 carries for 90 yards. Rogers had 25 keepers for 75 yards rushing and was 4-for-11 with 33 yards passing for the afternoon. Dillon John added 45 yards of rushing on eight touches.
Saturday’s win for the Dragons came after losses to Dawson-Boyd and Minneota the team ended its regular season with. Both of those teams won Saturday to advance and are seen by many as formidable candidates to contend for their divisions.
Needless to say, Strand knew his team would be okay going forward.
“Those are two of the better teams in Minnesota. We just shot ourselves in the foot a few times,” he said of the last few weeks. “Today, we played a pretty solid defensive game all the way through. That’s what it takes to win championships. Next Friday, whoever it is, we’ll be there.”
St. Clair 0 0 0 2 —2
Adrian 0 16 0 2 —18
T-M-B 20, United South Central 14
WELLS— In a hard-hitting game filled with turnovers, the visiting Tracy-Milroy-Balaton Panthers defeated United South Central 20-14 to move on to the Section 3A championships.
On their first play from scrimmage, the Panthers scored a 65-yard touchdown, with Brett Swenhaugen bouncing off the edge to take the ball into the endzone. Swenhaugen threw a 26-yard pass to Austin Gleis during the second quarter to increase the Panthers’ lead to end the first half.
After a scoreless third quarter, USC picked off a Swenhaugen pass and took it to the four yard line early in the fourth. Following the interception, senior running back Dylan Herman scored on a four-yard run to cut into the Panther lead.
Swenhaugen scored once again for T-M-B, on a one-yard run later in the fourth quarter. Following the touchdown, Swenhaugen earned the two-point conversion.
USC scored one last time, on a 25-yard pass from Travis Brown to Walker Linde, with 2:30 to go in the game.
USC mustered 296 total offensive yards against T-M-B. The Panthers accumulated 317 total yards, with 190 rushing and 127 passing. USC had five total turnovers on Saturday while T-M-B had six.
“It was a hard-hitting game. It would have been a fun game to watch because of all the big hits,” T-M-B head coach Randy McIntire commented.
T-M-B moves on to the section 3A championships on Friday against Adrian in Marshall. T-M-B previously lost to Adrian 27-13. The game is slated to start at 5 p.m.
“We’ve been looking forward to playing Adrian again ever since week two. I told the guys if they wanted to play them again, they’d have to make it to the section championships,” McIntire said.
T-M-B 6 6 0 8 — 20
USC 0 0 0 14 — 14