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Dragons can't stop punishing Wildcat attack, fall 28-7 in Class A title game

MINNEAPOLIS -- While the Goodhue Wildcats celebrate victory, Adrian can only look at the missed opportunities.

Adrian managed just 252 yards of total offense as the Dragons finished as Class A runners-up in the state with a 28-7 loss to Goodhue Friday in the Prep Bowl.

"I don't think we played our best game today," Tony Thier said. "We had a good season, but today wasn't that much fun."

With a 2-1 advantage in time of possession and a Prep Bowl record of 26 first downs, Goodhue used an effective ground game to control the clock and the momentum.

"The frustrating part was that we couldn't catch a break, here or there; that was more frustrating than anything," Adrian head coach Randy Strand said. "I give a lot of credit to their line. They were bigger and stronger, and they pushed us back off the line. Their running backs have been running well all year. They are a good football team."

A week after holding down Cook County's running attack, the Dragons (11-3) gave up 325 yards on the ground, including 167 to Micah Huneke and 141 to Eric Ryan.

"We didn't handle their running," Adrian senior Matt Gades said. "We kept them inside, which we thought was their weakness. They just pounded the ball, and their linemen got after it more than we did."

After running primarily to the outside in their semifinal victory, the Wildcats (13-1) focused more on running between the tackles -- gaining 325 total yards rushing along the way.

"We loaded up the outside in our last ball game, which opened up the inside running game," Goodhue head coach Clair Austin said. "If you haven't seen film on us, our inside running game is just as strong as our outside running game. We were able to take advantage of their defensive."

After Adrian received a 29-yard kick return from Jesse Brake (83 kick return yards) to start the game, the Dragon offense moved the ball.

Brake (88 yards on 15 carries) started with a 20-yard run up the left side, and Adrian was in Goodhue territory.

After Thier (12 carries, 42 yards) gained two on second down from the 28, however, Huneke intercepted a Brett Nowotny (6-of-17, 56 yards, one touchdown, three interceptions) pass -- resulting in the first missed opportunity.

"Our defense is pretty solid, and has a bend but don't break philosophy," Austin said. "We toughen up when we get near the goal line."

On the ensuing possession, the Wildcats used a 19-yard pass from Kelby Buck (five-of-six, 58 yards) to Ryan to move down the field. Goodhue used 10 plays to travel 76 yards for a touchdown. Huneke capped the drive with a 12-yard burst as Goodhue took a 7-0 lead.

"We played excellent," Austin said. "We had our game plan, and we wanted to come in and pound the ball and wear them down, and we were able to do that today."

Adrian went three-and-out on its next possession, and was forced to punt.

The Wildcats started with an 18-yard and a 12-yard scamper to move into Adrian territory. Ryan later found the end zone to cap a nine-play drive, and with a failed PAT, Goodhue had a 13-0 lead.

"We were hoping that we could hold our own on the line," Strand said. "We started blitzing our linebackers, but they were still getting the yards. We didn't want to give up any big plays, and I don't think we did that. Every touchdown they got they earned, and it wasn't a one play and done thing."

As the second quarter started, Adrian found itself in a fourth-and-three situation. Adam Diekmann (two-of-three passing, 32 yards) found an open Danny Parsley on a fake punt to extend the drive.

Facing yet another fourth down, Diekmann took the ball on an end-around, and found Parsley again. This time, Parsley had to wrestle the ball away from Goodhue's Brett Watson, and Adrian was in the red zone.

The Dragons finally found pay dirt as Nowotny found Diekmann on the right side, and with a diving effort, Diekmann put Adrian on the board.

Diekmann added the PAT, but the Dragons still trailed, 13-7.

The Wildcats answered with another 10-play drive, and with a 2-point conversion, Goodhue had a 21-7 advantage.

Adrian had two more possessions in Goodhue territory before half, but could not convert on either, as the Dragons went into the locker room down by two touchdowns.

After a defensive stop to start the second half, Adrian found itself on the Goodhue 35, and driving. However, three straight penalties forced the Dragons into a second-and-31 -- thus ending the drive.

"I thought our offense moved it alright, but we had some penalties that hurt us in the second half," Strand said. "We had a couple of turnovers that cost us in the first half."

Ryan finished Goodhue's next drive (11 plays, 80 yards) with a 3-yard burst, as Goodhue took a 28-7 lead.

Adrian had one final chance to score some points, but the drive stalled when the Dragons could not pick up a fourth-and-two from the Goodhue 4-yard line.

Goodhue ran out the clock -- capturing a state title -- ending Adrian's season.

"I don't think you get disappointed at the high school level," Strand said. "It would be different if you beat yourself, then you can be disappointed. But they went out and beat us. We battled hard, and came through a really tough section to be here. To have the opportunity and the memories, you can't be disappointed in that."

But even with an Adrian team that wasn't expected to even be playing in the game, ending the season with a loss is tough.

"We weren't really expected to get this far, so it was nice, but it was very disappointing," Gades said. "Whenever the prize is that big, it's always disappointing."

Goodhue 13 8 0 7 -- 28

Adrian 0 7 0 0 -- 7