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Trojans come out firing on all cylinders, but fall to New Ulm, 26-22

Trojans vs New Ulm 2
Worthington High School's Tommy Lais (84) charges in on New Ulm quarterback Nolan Drill at Friday night's homecoming football game. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- Will Brandner came out strong.

The senior quarterback on Worthington’s football team, Brandner and the Trojans didn’t hold anything back in Friday’s Homecoming game against New Ulm.

But in the end, the Eagles kept the ball away from Brandner and WHS to hold on for a 26-22 victory.

“It honestly doesn’t feel good,” said Brandner, who was named Homecoming king earlier Friday. “But at the same time, I know we put everything out there and did as much as we could to try to win this game. A couple plays go the other way and we win this ballgame. It’s tough, but we were right there.”

Brandner threw the ball all over the field against the Eagles, amassing 229 yards through the air.

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“The line blocked incredible tonight,” Brandner said. “That was definitely a huge factor. They gave me time to throw the ball. The receivers ran good routes. They had some weak links out there on defense, so we tried to take advantage of it as much as we could.”

On the first possession, Brandner connected with Kelka Alwal for a 35-yard pass and Brock Bruns for a 52-yard strike, setting up the first of three rushing touchdowns for Emmett Bickett.

“We’ve been working hard in practice to get some more chemistry between me and (Brock) and me and Kelka in trying to hit some more long balls,” Brandner said. “We knew our guys could make plays. You have two 6-5 guys, you have to take advantage of them. That was definitely a game plan.”

Bickett finished with 62 yards rushing and 58 yards receiving.

“It felt a lot better than the last couple of weeks,” he said. “I have to thank the linemen. Without them, there’s no hole there and I can’t do anything.”

The Eagles, meanwhile, threw just four times and running back Cole Ranweiler led with 211 yards on 32 carries.

“He definitely had a lot of good blockers,” Bickett said. “Personally, coming off the edge, he would be running and there would be two or three blockers consistently there. Just trying to fight through that was a struggle. He definitely was a hard runner, he wasn’t afraid to lower his shoulder and keep his legs moving.”

Quarterback Nolan Drill scored NU’s first score on a 20 yard touchdown. The Eagles went up 12-7 after a 30-yard score by Ranweiler before Worthington’s Reynaldo Paniagua hit a 32-yard field goal. WHS went up on an 11-yard score by Bickett late in the second quarter.

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However, on the ensuing kickoff, the Eagles had a long return, setting up a nine-yard touchdown pass as they led 20-16 at halftime. The advantage went to 26-16 in the third quarter as Ranweiler scored on a one-yard run.

Later, after a bad snap on a punt, the Trojans took over on the NU 11. Bickett scored on the next play to bring WHS within four.

However, that was as close as it would get. The Trojans had an opportunity late, but a long 43-yard pass was negated by a penalty and Ranweiler and the Eagles converted a third down with a 22-yard run to seal the victory.

“You’d never know if you came to practice that we were winless the way we practice and how hard we practice. New Ulm runs that different offense and our scout team all week was great. That helped us prepare. I thought we were physical tonight, both offensively and defensively,” WHS head coach Gene Lais said. “We played hard. We missed a couple tackles and we dropped another ball or two. But we were in the game the entire game.”

Worthington falls to 0-4 and will be at Waseca next week.

“I see the loss, but in the long run, I’m not going to see the loss, I’m going to see the memories I made with this group of guys,” Bickett said. “That will be the treasure here.”

New Ulm 6 14 6 0 -- 26

Worthington 7 9 6 0 -- 22

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Trojans vs New Ulm 1
Emmett Bickett (21) of WHS makes Worthington's first touchdown Friday night against New Ulm. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

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