Each Thursday, Sartell spends some quality time working on its two-minute drill offense.
On a frigid Friday at St. Cloud State’s Husky Stadium, practice paid off.
The Sabres rallied from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat St. Cloud Tech 21-20 in the cold, a strong cross wind and occasionally sleet.
It enables Sartell (5-1) to pull ahead of Tech (3-3) come seedings time in Section 8-5A, where the six-team section is likely to see Moorhead (6-0) earn No. 1 and the Sabres now frontrunners for No. 2 and a first-round playoff bye.
“Not only does it give us a lot of confidence, but this was a big win for the seedings,” Sartell senior quarterback Parker Hagen said.
“We’re closing in on the second seed.”
The winning score came on a Hagen to Jake Wenzel 3-yard touchdown pass with 10.7 seconds remaining.
That made it 20-20.
“It was just a crossing pattern,” said Wenzel, who had four catches for 86 yards.
Then, Cody Partch’s point-after kick sailed through the uprights to give the Sabres the lead.
“This gives us the St. Cloud area dominance,” said Partch, who was referring to Sartell’s wins over St. Cloud Apollo (6-0), Sauk Rapids (28-0) and now Tech.
Partch quickly gave credit to Hagen for the hold and center Joe Sykora for the snap. All involved calmly executed the crucial PAT … after a Tech timeout to try to rattle Partch.
It didn’t work.
“Just stay focused,” said Partch, a senior who focused on place-kicking in ninth grade. He also was the Sabres’ backup quarterback. Hagen has that job. He completed 11 of 27 passes for 182 yards Friday as Sartell overcame a 14-0 halftime deficit and a 21-7 Tech lead with 5:25 to go.
The victory changed the focus on a record-setting evening for Jacob Peterson. The Tech senior running back became the school’s all-time leading rusher on his second carry from scrimmage.
He rushed for 267 yards and three touchdowns on 39 carries. He surpassed Scott Schmitz, who ran for 2,817 yards from 1996-97.
“All I can say is, I’m glad I don’t play defense,” Hagen said.
“That’s been a career goal for Jacob,” Tech head coach Gregg Martig said. “I never thought I’d see it be broken in my lifetime and I got to see Scott Schmitz do it as part of the staff …
“That’s saying something in our program when you look at all the outstanding running backs this school has had over the years.”
Peterson and Tech led 14-0 at halftime. The Tigers scored the second TD with 53.8 seconds to go on a Peterson 6-yard run.
Sartell took the opening kickoff in the second half and went eight plays and 52 yards after recovering an onside kick-off attempt by Tech. Hagen scored on a quarterback keeper from 12 yards out, running over a defender or two in the process.
Peterson then broke off a 63-yard TD run with 4:00 to go in the third quarter. The PAT was wide left, but Tech was up 20-7 and in control.
Then the wheels fell off.
Sartell got the ball with 8:04 to play on its own 18-yard line and needed six plays and a PAT to tie it up with 5:25 to play. Erik McAfee scored from two yards out. The senior running back, back from a hip injury, wound up with 91 yards rushing on 21 carries and four receptions for 54 yards.
Tech then tried to run out the clock. Peterson had two first-down carries on a drive that stalled at the Sartell 45-yard line. The Tigers tried to pin the Sabres back, but the ball bounced into the end zone with 2:08 to play.
This is where all that Thursday practice time paid off for Sartell. The Sabres needed 10 plays and some big catches from Wenzel and company to pull it off. Two Tech pass interference penalties also were critical, including one that gave the Sabres a first-and-goal at the 3 with 15.9 seconds.
“We had the same situation last week and we didn’t pull it off,” Hagen said of last week’s 35-28 loss to Fergus Falls.
This time, it worked.
It was another difficult loss for Tech, which has been in all three of its losses (42-28 to Brainerd and 48-40 to Moorhead).
“That’s what you call all three of them,” Martig said. “We’re 3-3 and we’ve had chances to win them all, but we haven’t been able to close them out at the end. We didn’t get the job done, so this is where we’re at.”
Tech plays at 7 p.m. Friday at St. Cloud Apollo. Sartell is host to Willmar at 7 p.m. Friday.
|St. Cloud Tech||7||7||6||0||—||20|
T – Jacob Peterson 1 run (Jesse Lavoi kick)
T – Peterson 6 run (Irvin Rivera kick)
S – Parker Hagen 12 run (Cody Partch kick)
T – Peterson 13 run (kick failed)
S – Erik McAfee 2 run (Partch kick)
S – Jake Wenzel 3 pass from Hagen (Partch kick)
Rushing: S – McAfee 21-91, Hagen 3-9, Dylan Hollenkamp 2-1, Pat Fischer 1-0, Sam Neeser 1-0. Total: 28-101. T – Peterson 39-267, Austin Klaverkamp 3-6, Tanner Skaja 4-4. Total: 46-277.
Passing: S – Hagen 11-27-2 182. T – Jay Kedrowski 8-16-0 70.
Receiving: S – Wenzel 4-86, McAfee 4-54, Zach Schoonmaker 2-27, Quinn Anderson 1-15. T – Riley Bates 3-34, Skaja 3-14, Jake Martig 2-22.