SECTION 3AA FOOTBALL: Cardinals keep flying into familiar territory

LUVERNE -- Controlling the battle for field position throughout the game Saturday afternoon, the second-seeded Luverne Cardinals claimed a 21-0 victory over the third-seeded Pipestone Area Arrows in the semifinals of the Section 3AA football tour...

Luverne's Hayden Bauman
Courtesy Kevin Kyle/Pipestone County Star Luverne's Hayden Bauman (48) tries to break free from the grasp of Pipestone Area's Brandon Alfson. Luverne won the Saturday afternoon playoff game, 21-0.

LUVERNE -- Controlling the battle for field position throughout the game Saturday afternoon, the second-seeded Luverne Cardinals claimed a 21-0 victory over the third-seeded Pipestone Area Arrows in the semifinals of the Section 3AA football tournament featuring Southwest Conference rivals at Cardinal Field.

Luverne (8-2), which has won this section the last three years, will play in the title game for the fourth consecutive season. The Cardinals will meet top-seeded Jackson County Central Friday night (7:30 p.m.) at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall for the right to advance to the Class AA state tournament.

The Cardinals limited the Arrows to 179 yards of total offense (71 rushing), as PA only advanced the ball past Luverne's 40-yard line twice. The Cardinals gained 261 yards of total offense (170 rushing), and senior Taylor Mulder, junior Collin Rofshus and sophomore Hayden Bauman each scored a touchdown.

"We did a nice job defensively, and it was a total team effort," Luverne head coach Todd Oye said after the game. "We controlled field position for most of the game, and that was a big key for us. We also made some big plays offensively that allowed us to put some points on the board and play with a lead."

Luverne, which defeated PA 17-14 in the teams' annual 'Battle Ax' game on Sept. 25, grabbed the momentum early by forcing an Arrows' three-and-out on the game's opening possession. PA started at its own 26-yard line and gained a yard on three plays before junior Tyler Rieck punted the ball away.


A pair of big special-teams plays by junior Britton Stratton ensued, as the Cardinals pinned the Arrows at their own one-yard line. Stratton had a 19-yard run along the left sideline on a fourth-and-two fake-punt attempt and later punted on fourth-and-nine from the Arrows' 38.

Senior Derek Petersen downed the punt at the one-yard line, and the Arrows were again forced to kick the ball away after gaining just three yards on three plays. Luverne then started its second series at PA's 33-yard line.

A defensive pass interference call aided the Cardinals on a third-and-19 play, and senior Josh Boomgaarden had an eight-yard run to spark the drive early on. Sophomore Richard Gonzalez picked up a first down with a four-yard run up the middle.

Three straight plays (runs of two and three yards and a six-yard reception) by Mulder inside the 14-yard line gave Luverne a first-and-goal from the three as the first quarter came to a close.

Mulder (12 carries for 37 yards) got the ball two more times to start the second quarter, and his two-yard touchdown plunge at the 11:27 mark put the Cardinals on top. Junior BG Xaisongkham (3-for-3 on PATs) added the extra point to make it 7-0.

"That was a good start to the game for us," Oye said. "We took a chance on the fake punt and then pinned them inside the five-yard line. Those two plays helped give us good field position, and then we took it in and scored."

PA (6-4) moved the chains for the first time on the ensuing drive, as senior quarterback Brandan Alfson (14-for-25 for 108 yards, eight carries for 20 yards) gained nine yards on a sneak up the middle before junior Tyler Evans (nine carries for 28 yards) ran for three yards to make it first-and-10 at the Cardinals' 47.

A holding penalty, though, pushed the Arrows back and forced another punt. Rieck's kick bounced and was downed at the Luverne 10-yard line.


Senior quarterback Ryan Hoff (7-for-16 for 91 yards) then engineered a big drive for Luverne, completing a five-yard pass to senior Trever Stoffel (three catches for 20 yards) and firing an eight-yard strike to Boomgaarden (three catches for 65 yards).

Hoff later connected with Boomgaarden again, this time for 27 yards down the right sideline. Bauman (10 carries for 70 yards) then snapped off a 39-yard surge around the left side, and a face-mask penalty on the play gave the Cardinals a first-and-goal at the Arrows' eight.

PA, though, made a goal-line defensive stand when junior Devinn Gorter intercepted a pass at the one-yard line with 5:21 left in the second quarter. The Arrows later finished the half by reaching Luverne's 28-yard line, as Evans had runs of six and 11 yards before gaining 21 yards on a screen pass from Alfson.

The Arrows then forced a three-and-out on the Cardinals' opening possession of the third quarter. But PA could not generate any offense of its own and punted the ball right back to Luverne.

Starting at their own 41-yard line, the Cardinals needed just four plays to extend their lead to 14-0. After runs by Mulder and Rofshus netted six yards, Hoff went over the top and hooked up with Boomgaarden for a 30-yard play.

"Ryan and our receivers stepped up and made some plays to help keep a few drives going," Oye said. "The Arrows play very good run defense, and with the wet and muddy field conditions, we were not able to run the ball as effectively as we would have liked to. But we did have a couple of long runs that certainly helped out."

Bauman then took a sweep to the left and used a stiff-arm and some good lead blocks to tip-toe along the sideline for a 23-yard touchdown scamper. Xaisongkham booted the point after to make it 14-0 with 7:18 remaining in the third quarter.

Luverne threatened to score on its next series, as another defensive pass interference call and a 14-yard dash by Mulder helped set up a field-goal attempt. Xaisongkham's kick from 33 yards out was on-target but fell just short, and the score remained 14-0.


The Arrows moved inside Cardinal territory on the next series, with Gorter and senior Tate Van Roekel hauling in passes of 14 and nine yards, respectively, from Alfson. Senior Shandon Jones later caught a short pass on second-and-nine from Luverne's 44, but a solid open-field tackle by Petersen helped the Cardinals bring that drive to a halt.

PA's next drive early in the fourth quarter featured a 21-yard catch-and-run by senior Taylor Jolitz on a screen play, but Cardinal senior Nick Meyer intercepted a tipped pass for another defensive stop for Luverne.

Senior Michael Graff came up with a quarterback sack for Luverne on the Arrows' next possession, and Rofshus (four carries for 34 yards) broke through the middle for a 33-yard touchdown dash to stretch the Cardinals' lead. Xaisongkham made it 21-0 with 3:32 to play in the game.

PA moved 49 yards on its final drive, starting at its own 25 and reaching Luverne's 26. Van Roekel had a 13-yard reception, and Alfson ran for seven yards to highlight the march.

The Cardinals, though, stopped the Arrows once again on a fourth-and-two running play and took over on downs with just more than a minute remaining to advance to the section title game for the fourth straight season.

PA 0 0 0 0 - 0

LHS 0 7 7 7 - 21

What To Read Next
Get Local