Prep football playoffs: Sartell defeats Apollo, advances to section title game

Prep football playoffs: Sartell defeats Apollo, advances to section title game

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Prep football playoffs: Sartell defeats Apollo, advances to section title game

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While it was supposed to be playoff football, this one felt a whole lot more like a rollercoaster.

By the time the ride ended, Sartell emerged with a come-from-behind 24-17 win over St. Cloud Apollo on a freezing Saturday night at St. Cloud State’s Husky Stadium.

“It’s crazy,” was Erik McAfee’s response. “That’s the second time we’ve been down in the fourth quarter like that here and we made another big comeback.”

That was thanks to McAfee and company. The Sartell senior running back rushed 31 times for 245 yards and two touchdowns to help the second-seeded Sabres (7-2) advance to the Section 8-5A championship.

Sartell plays top-seeded Moorhead (9-0) at 7 p.m. Friday at Clemens Stadium in Collegeville. The Spuds beat Alexandria 48-14.

Apollo (4-6) looked like it had this game won a couple times. But the Eagles needed some rallying themselves.

They led 3-0 at halftime.

But the Sabres took a 10-0 lead after three quarters before Apollo tied it up with 7:45 to play. Derek Alexander caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Ben Alvord. Cory Waldron’s PAT made it 10-10.

The Eagles then took a 17-10 lead when the Sabres committed their fifth turnover, this time deep in their own territory. Alexander then scampered in from 16 yards out.

But it the ride was just getting cranked up. Sartell took over on its own 38-yard line and ran six straight running plays, including five by McAfee, who scored on a 17-yard run on a third-and-4 situation.

Cody Partch’s PAT was blocked by Noel Teigen, who came around the edge to stop the unusually reliable Sartell kicker.

“I didn’t want them to score,” said Teigen, who had two interceptions .

Asked about the rollercoaster ride, he replied: “Tell me about it.”

Apollo then went three-and-out and had a false start penalty, enabling the Sabres to get the ball back with 1:49 to play at the Apollo 49.

Sartell then drove down the field. The winner came on a 2-yard pass by Parker Hagen to Matt Worzala with 45 seconds to go.

“I was wide open,” Worzala said. “They had to key all over Erik and I couldn’t have done it without him and our line. They really did the job and Parker just laid it in there.”

Apollo wasn’t done, either. The Eagles drove down to the Sartell 31-yard line when Alvord was sacked as time ran out.

“I don’t know what to say,” Sartell head coach Scott Hentges said. “It’s tough to overcome six turnovers.”

Six? “I thought it was eight,” he said. “Our kids never gave up. We rallied and did a great job with Pat Fischer out (with a knee injury in the second quarter). I can’t say it was Parker Hagen’s best game.

“But he really led us down the field at the end there when it mattered.”

It was an excruciatingly tough loss for Apollo, which hadn’t advanced this far in the playoffs since 1998 and had won four straight.

“It was fun, a fun game,” Alexander said. “The outcome was not what we expected, not what we wanted. But it was a fun game while it lasted.”

Sartell controlled the line of scrimmage, rushing 44 times for 299 yards. Meanwhile, the Sabres sacked Alvord a half-dozen times. The sack yardage left Apollo with 96 yards rushing on 42 carries, though Alexander had 95 yards and caught four passes for 88.

“It was a good football game and that was a good football team,” Apollo head coach Justin Skaalerud said. “We certainly had opportunities to win the game.

“I think they took advantage of their size on that last drive. In high school football, a lot of times it comes down to speed. But their size really worked to their advantage that last drive.”

SC Apollo 0 3 0 14 17
Sartell 0 0 10 14 24

A – Cory Waldron 27 field goal

S – Cody Partch 23 field goal

S – Erik McAfee 25 run (Partch kick)

A – Derek Alexander 25 pass from Ben Alvord (Waldron kick)

A – Alexander 16 run (Waldron kick)

S – McAfee 17 run (kick blocked)

S – Matt Worzala 2 pass from Parker Hagen (McAfee run)

Individual statistics

Rushing: A – Alexander 21-95, Noel Teigen 8-30, Brandon Bloch 2-9, Cooper Lynch 1-2, Kyle Rosenthal 1-(-1), Alvord 9-(-39). Total: 42-96. S – McAfee 31-245, Darek Stachowski 7-30, Hagen 6-24. Total: 44-299.

Passing: A – Alvord 8-21-2 130. S – Hagen 11-17-3 91.

Receiving: A – Alexander 4-88, Jeremy Koffi 2-17, Teigen 1-13, Rosenthal 1-12. S – Pat Fischer 4-47, Worzala 2-15, Jake Wenzel 1-18, Zach Schoonmaker 1-10, Dylan Hollenkamp 1-10, Sam Neeser 1-0, McAfee 1-(-9).

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