Minnesota state high school football: Pipestone Area edges BEA; MLA falls in 9-Man
NEW ULM — Anchored by a powerful pass rush, the Pipestone Arrows defeated the Blue Earth Bucs 19-12 Friday night, earning the Arrows a trip to US Bank Stadium for the Class AA football semifinals at New Ulm High School.
Meanwhile, also at New Ulm, Mountain Lake Area and Russell-Tyler-Ruthton contended in state 9-Man quarterfinal play. It was R-T-R, a 26-22 loser to MLA in the regular season, that came out on top when it mattered most, 8-6.
Heavy snow, sleet, wind and gusts plagued both the Arrows and the Bucs in the Class AA game, creating countless dropped passes, bad snaps and overthrown balls. The conditions were so bad that the two teams often opted to go for it on fourth down rather than attempt a punt.
On the game’s first series, that’s exactly what happened. PA quarterback Cody Thompson was sacked on fourth down at the Arrows’ 29. But the Bucs blew great field position, going four-and-out in an ugly sequence that included an overthrown ball that should have been a touchdown.
After Pipestone turned the ball over on downs once again, Blue Earth finally opened scoring with a 10-play, 41-yard drive that ended with a Zach Buseman 7-yard touchdown run.
Down 6-0, the Arrows elected to go for another fake punt on fourth and 5, but the pass was intercepted by Caelan Sanders.
The Arrows got a big break when Blue Earth Area wide receiver Jacob Vaske dropped a sure-fire touchdown pass on a series that resulted in a turnover on downs. However, the Arrows couldn’t capitalize, as a second Thompson interception effectively ended the half.
With only 56 seconds into the third, Pipestone Area responded. Thompson and Tyl Woelber connected for a 78-yard touchdown pass to make it 6-6.
Always dealing with poor field position, the Arrows defense came up strong throughout the game. After the Bucs marched down the field to come within the Arrows 10-yard-line, Tucker DeGroot forced a fumble and Matt Enger scooped it up.
However, Pipestone attempted and failed another fake punt, and the Arrows defense couldn’t stop a Rylee McGuire 2-yard touchdown run to make it 12-6 Bucs.
Baatz broke off a huge run at the end of the third quarter and did more damage on the first play of the fourth quarter, diving into the endzone for a 7-yard touchdown. Kicking in terrible conditions, Woelber made the extra point, giving the Arrows a 13-12 lead.
Following a strong defensive sequence that included a Braeden Rieck sack, the Arrows forced a punt. Again, winds came into play when the Bucs’ punt traveled just 1 yard.
Thompson took advantage. He stood in the pocket and took a huge hit, but not before connecting with Rieck on a 31-yard pass. Garrett Ploeger followed it up with a 5-yard touchdown run, giving Pipestone a 19-12 lead.
The Pipestone defense, which sacked Blue Earth quarterback Hunter Bleess five times in the second half, ended the game on a Bleess incomplete pass with less than 1 minute remaining.
Bleess finished the game 2-15 for 25 yards, while Thompson was 7-18 for 138 yards.
The Arrows will travel to US Bank Stadium for the semifinals next Friday, where they will face Moose Lake/Willow River. Russell-Tyler-Ruthton will square off against Nevis in the 9-Man semifinals Friday at US Bank Stadium.