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SECTION 3A FOOTBALL: Adrian knocks off Wabasso, 14-6

ADRIAN -- Adrian scored two touchdowns in the final minute-and-a-half of the first half Saturday. It ended up being all the points they would need. The Dragons' defense held Wabasso to 147 total yards and forced three turnovers in a 14-6 victory ...

Adrian's Adam Diekmann, Tyler Hornstein
Aaron Hagen/Daily Globe Adrian's Adam Diekmann (4) and Tyler Hornstein jump up to bat down a pass on the final play of the section 3A playoff game on Saturday. The Dragons defeated Wabasso, 14-6.

ADRIAN -- Adrian scored two touchdowns in the final minute-and-a-half of the first half Saturday.

It ended up being all the points they would need.

The Dragons' defense held Wabasso to 147 total yards and forced three turnovers in a 14-6 victory that will advance Adrian to the section championship, one game away from a Class A state football berth.

Trailing 6-0 late in the second quarter, the Dragons kept a drive alive on a fourth-and-12 when Brett Nowotny completed a pass to Adam Diekmann.

Moments later, Diekmann scored on a three-yard touchdown run and booted through the PAT to put Adrian up, 7-6.

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Wabasso fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and the Dragons' Brandon Aggen pounced on the loose ball.

"We kind of squib kicked it and the guy didn't handle it clean," Dragons' head coach Randy Strand said.

Nowotny then capitalized off the turnover, sneaking across the goal line with 18 seconds left to send Adrian into the break with a 14-6 lead.

"It gave us all the momentum going into the locker room," Strand said of the two touchdowns. "We knew we would be starting on defense right away, and it really fired our guys up."

The scoreboard didn't budge in the second half.

Both teams made red zone stands, each stopping their opponents inside the 10-yard line.

The game was also full of turnovers: three on each side.

Adrian threw three interceptions, while the Rabbits fumbled twice and tossed a pick into the hands of Dragon defensive back Kyle Kilgore.

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Wabasso's highly-touted running back Derek Riley finished the game with 101 yards, but he also carried the ball 31 times -- averaging just 3.2 yards per carry.

"They give the ball to him quite often, so we knew where it was going most of the time," Strand said. "That helps."

Adrian, meanwhile, gained 120 yards on the ground and 99 through the air.

Brock Bullerman led the way with 40 yards on 10 carries, while Diekmann had 30 yards rushing and 52 receiving.

Defensively, the Dragons were led by Justin Wolf's 11 tackles.

Andrew Lonneman had 10 tackles including a sack, and Bullerman added 10 more tackles from his linebacker position.

Adrian (8-2) is now one game away from the state playoffs, with only Murray County Central standing in its way.

"There's nothing fancy about them, but they have a very good running back and a few more weapons," Strand said of the Rebels. "Any time you have a senior-led team that's playing well, it's going to take a good defensive effort for us to win."

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The Dragons defeated MCC earlier this season, 13-0.

The section title will be played in Marshall at Southwest Minnesota State's field.

Kickoff is slated for 5 p.m.

Wabasso 0 6 0 0 -- 6

Adrian 0 14 0 0 -- 14

Adrian's Adam Diekmann, Justin Wolf
Adrian's Adam Diekmann (4) sees a hole that his teammate Justin Wolf (43) helps to clear during a Section 3A playoff game Saturday in Adrian.

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