SECTION 3A FB: Dragons blank Rebels, 14-0

MARSHALL -- For Adrian's Brett Nowotny, things never hurt so good. Despite playing nicked up, Nowotny ran for a touchdown, threw for another and the Dragons' defense made two fourth-down stands in the red zone to stifle Murray County Central 14-0...

Adrian's Nowotny
Aaron Hagen/Daily Globe Adrian quarterback Brett Nowotny (7) throws over Murray County Central's Alex Peterson (15) during a two-point conversion in Friday night's Section 3A championship football game in Marshall. Dragon Adam Diekmann (4) caught the successful conversion pass in Adrian's 14-0 victory.

MARSHALL -- For Adrian's Brett Nowotny, things never hurt so good.

Despite playing nicked up, Nowotny ran for a touchdown, threw for another and the Dragons' defense made two fourth-down stands in the red zone to stifle Murray County Central 14-0 and punch a Section 3A ticket to the state football playoffs.

After the game, Nowotny could barely speak without grimacing.

"I kind of want to go ice my ribs now," the quarterback said. "I ran that scramble outside and got sacked and that kind of hurt, and then I ran that QB draw and it just all went downhill from there."

The hits were well worth it though, especially the shot he took midway through the third quarter.


That's when he rolled out to his left and patiently waited to launch a pass, looking straight down a Rebel defender's helmet as he finally let it go.

Nowotny stuck in there long enough to sail a 36-yard bomb into the hands of teammate Kyle Kilgore, who was so open it looked like he was playing left field.

Kilgore hauled in the pop fly, backed into the end zone and Nowotny tossed the two-point conversion to Adam Diekmann.

Diekmann was battling his own injury throughout the game.

"I sprained my ankle pretty bad against Wabasso," he said, referring to the Dragons' 14-6 section semifinal victory last week. "It just kind of carried over and I kept respraining it all game."

Despite the pain, he and Nowotny weren't about to be taken out. Adrian head coach Randy Strand wasn't about to try.

"Where else would they rather be?" the coach asked. "Sitting on the sidelines with us or out there mixing it up in the action? Those two have been around the block; they're comfortable playing with a few dings and a few injuries here and there."

"Tape it up and then put more tape over it," was Diekmann's philosophy.


His two-point reception put Adrian up by 14 points -- more than enough on this night, thanks to a stout Dragon defense.

MCC's offense failed to move the chains once the entire first half.

Adrian took the lead in the second quarter when Nowotny kept a fourth-down bootleg to the left and tumbled into the end zone for a three-yard touchdown run.

The extra point attempt was no good, and the Dragons carried a 6-0 lead into halftime.

Nowotny's touchdown was set up after Andrew Lonneman stripped MCC quarterback Kyle DeLong on an option play and Adrian's Brandon Aggen recovered the loose ball at the Rebels' 23-yard line.

DeLong's fumble came just three plays after Diekmann had coughed the ball up deep in MCC territory.

The Adrian running back also mishandled a punt earlier that the Rebels pounced on.

"You've got to learn to forget about it right away, because if it nags you it just makes you worse," Diekmann said of the turnovers. "You've just got to keep your head and have a short memory."


Each team lost two fumbles during the game, but DeLong's was the only turnover that resulted in any points.

Trailing 14-0 late in the game, the Rebels' defense gave MCC one final chance when Eric Wieneke picked off a Nowotny pass and bolted back to Adrian's 26.

"We took a timeout, regrouped, and said, 'If they've got to score let's make them do it in four or five plays," Strand said. "At least make them use the clock."

But the defense did its coach one better.

With their backs against the end zone and the ball on the six, Adrian halted Travis DeLong two yards short of the marker on fourth down.

The play came with less than two minutes remaining in the game.

It was the second time the Dragons made a red zone stop on fourth down.

Earlier in the fourth quarter, DeLong was popped by Adrian freshman Jake Diekmann for no gain on a fourth-and-two play at the 20-yard line.


"We just couldn't break through to the end zone," Rebels' head coach Chris Davis said.

Several teams have had trouble stopping MCC's unique double wing formation this season.

Adrian, however, hasn't been one of them.

MCC failed to put any points on the board against the Dragons both times the teams have squared off this season.

"We've played them enough that our kids pretty well know what's coming," Strand said.

The Section 3A champs blanked the Rebels 13-0 back on Sept. 11.

Friday night brought a similar result, as Adrian held MCC to 104 yards of total offense -- all of which came on the ground.

"We just watch our keys and play assignment football," Diekmann said.


Justin Wolf led the Dragons' defense with 11 tackles, while Brock Bullerman garnered 10 stops and a fumble recovery. Brendon Kopplow and Dustin Polzine had seven tackles apiece.

The Dragons finished with 209 total yards of offense, and Nowotny had identical 53-yard totals rushing and passing.

The loss ended what had been a spectacular turnaround for MCC. The Rebels bounced back from a 1-8 campaign in 2008 to a 7-4 record and a trip to the Section 3A title game this season.

"The senior leadership is going to be greatly missed," Davis said. "I wish we could have made it farther, but it's the playoffs and that's what happens. One team's got to go home."

Adrian's seniors, meanwhile, will be heading to state for the second time.

The Dragons made the trip to the Metrodome back in 2007, where they were defeated by Goodhue 28-7 in the Class A championship.

They'll have a week to heal up before taking on St. Bernards in the first round next Saturday at Gustavas Adolphus College in St. Peter.

"It's a good feeling to win," Nowotny said. "We've just got to keep playing 'd', keep playing smart, and just keep playing Dragon football."


MCC 0 0 0 0 -- 0

Adrian 0 6 8 0 -- 14

MCC's Wieneke
Aaron Hagen/Daily Globe Murray County Central's Eric Wieneke (4) looks for running room during Friday night's Section 3A finals in Marshall.

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