WHS gets in the football win column with clutch 14-12 win over New Ulm
On a wet, rainy night, a determined Worthington High School football team earned its first win of the season on Wednesday, coming up big on both sides of the football late in the fourth quarter for a 14-12 victory over New Ulm.
NEW ULM -- On a wet, rainy night, a determined Worthington High School football team earned its first win of the season on Wednesday, coming up big on both sides of the football late in the fourth quarter for a 14-12 victory over New Ulm.
With a little more than three minutes to play, senior quarterback Jake Brandner hit junior receiver Marenono Opiew on a 15-yard pass for what was the game-winning touchdown. Then with 38 seconds left, the Trojan defense stopped New Ulm on downs at the Trojans’ 11-yard line.
The game featured two teams hungry to finish their regular seasons with a victory. New Ulm came in with a 2-5 record but its only win on the field of play came last weekend against Belle Plaine. Worthington had lost its first seven contests.
“They played hard, they played pretty doggone good for 48 minutes tonight. They did a nice job tonight responding,” said head coach Geno Lais.
The Trojans had two good scoring opportunities in the first quarter. The first one was set up after the Eagles fumbled on their first snap from scrimmage but the Trojans, taking over at the Eagles’ 34-yard line, turned the ball over on downs.
The second chance was successful. Senior linebacker Andrew Dorcey intercepted a pass near midfield but as a 4th-and-5 carry came up short, the Eagles were whistled for a personal foul. With another set of downs at the NU 27, Worthington found paydirt as freshman Worthington running back Jacari Swinea scored a few plays later on an 11-yard run. The PAT was good.
Early in the second stanza, Swinea broke free on a 75-yard run for an apparent touchdown, but a holding penalty on the Trojans erased it. Halftime came and the score was still 7-0 in Worthington’s favor.
New Ulm answered Worthington’s touchdown with 7:37 showing on the third quarter clock, helped along by a 33-yard pass on first down by quarterback Ayden Jensen. Senior running back Dylen Carreon scored the TD on a 4-yard run. But a conversion run failed as Trojan senior Blake Luinenburg led a charge to stop it.
Worthington reached deep into New Ulm territory later in the quarter, but with 3:28 remaining quarterback Jake Brandner came up empty at the Eagles’ 21 on a 4th-and-2 carry. Now with the ball back, New Ulm began its own drive that reached deep into rival territory. Finally, on a 4th-and-8 play at the WHS 26, Jensen hooked up with sophomore Jonah Tess near the right sideline for a go-ahead score at the 11:03 mark. A conversion pass was broken up by Dorcey, however.
The Trojans halted another New Ulm possession midway through the fourth quarter and received a punt at their own 41-yard line with 6:50 to go in the game. Brandner connected with Zeidi Nasim on a 16-yard pass on first down.
Later, on a 3rd-and-5 play, Swinea rushed for five and the Trojans had a new set of downs. Again they went to Swinea and he ran for 13 tough yards to the 19. On 3rd-and-6 at the 15-yard line, Brandner found Opiew for the big catch.
Triston Sauerbrei’s extra point made it 14-12.
The Eagles, however, refused to quit, setting up on their 28-yard line with 3:14 remaining. Hope for the home team was kept alive with a first down pass on 4th-and-10 and then a pass interference penalty that pushed the ball to the WHS 34. Later, a long 4th-and-7 pass went incomplete with 1:06 remaining, but the drive was reprieved when Worthington was flagged for another pass interference.
The game came down to a 4th-and-5 play at the WHS 11-yard line with 38 seconds to play. Jensen rolled right and tried to run for it, coming up short.
“They’re pretty excited,” Lais said of his players moments after the game ended. “You don’t want to go winless. Hopefully it’s a little springboard to going into the playoffs.”
WHS will open in the Section 3AAA tournament on Tuesday.
Worthington 7 0 0 7 -- 14
New Ulm 0 0 6 6 -- 12