PREP STATE FOOTBALL: MCC falls in 1st round of state

NEW PRAGUE – The Murray County Central football team was hoping to have a long run in the Class A State Football Championships this fall, but unfortunately their run was stopped short by the Rushford-Peterson Trojans, who beat the Rebels 44-21 Friday in the Class A State Quarterfinals.

This was just the second trip ever to the state quarterfinals for the Rebels and their first in 16 years since they did it back in 2000. But even though it had been awhile for the Rebels, they looked ready to go for the first half Friday night.

The first two quarters were all about ball control as both teams sustained long drives that ended with either a touchdown or a turnover on downs. There was just one punt in the first half and the Rebels went into halftime with a 14-12 lead thanks to two missed kicks.

“In the first half, (the players) did everything we asked them to,” MCC head coach Patrick Freeman said. “We wanted to sustain drives and finish in the end zone, which we did for the most part. Defensively, we wanted to make them earn everything. They’re a very good offensive team with a good running back, so we knew they were going to make some plays, but we didn’t give up the big plays. And we didn’t turn over the ball in the first half. Those three things made us ahead going into the second half.”

The Trojans opened the game with a touchdown drive to start, but the Rebels answered on their first possession with a drive that ended on a 2-yard touchdown run from Kellan Johnson.

When the Trojans answered with another touchdown on their next possession, MCC came up short the following drive and turned the ball over on RP’s 4-yard line.

On the defense’s third time out on the field, MCC was able to get a stop and forced the Trojans to punt deep in their own territory. The Rebels got the ball back on Rushford-Peterson’s 49-yard line and were able to get down the field and score once more on an 8-yard scramble from the quarterback, Brady Kremer.

Although the Rebels were leading, they couldn’t help but feel they left a few opportunities on the table with the turnover at Rushford’s 4-yard line and seven total penalties for 44 yards against the Trojans. Not capitalizing more on Rushford’s mistakes would hurt the Rebels in the end.

MCC got the ball to start the third quarter, but after successful drives in the first half they were stopped on three plays and forced to punt right away. That’s when things started getting wild.

When the Trojans took over from MCC’s 41-yard line, they promptly fumbled the ball away and Johnson recovered. But after the Rebels took back control, they also fumbled to give the ball back to Rushford. This time the Trojans did not stumble. They marched down and promptly scored back-to-back touchdowns to take a 21-14 lead in the third quarter.

After struggling to get the offense going, MCC finally showed signs of a fight when it drove down from its 35-yard line and scored on a 2-yard run from Zach Aanenson. That made it a three-point game with just under eight minutes to play.

“They came out with a defensive front and we struggled, but we answered back and kept plugging away,” Freeman said. “It was 24-21 with eight minutes to go. Then one play made the difference.”

This is when things went south for the Rebels. On the ensuing kickoff, the Trojans returned it 73 yards for a touchdown. Then when MCC got the ball back, it lost another fumble for its second turnover of the game.

RP punched in another touchdown to go up 38-21. Now in desperation mode, the Rebels began throwing the ball more, which led to another turnover, an interception at RP’s 35-yard line.

That was the final punch delivered as the Trojans rushed down the field and scored one last touchdown before the game ended.

“We played three and one half quarters of good football, but then it started with that kick return and two fumbles in a row,” Freeman said. “When you give a good team opportunities, they’re going to take advantage. That’s what happened, and we weren’t able to overcome.”

The Rebels racked up 283 total yards on the ground and passed for another 74 yards, but the mistakes were too much to bare. The Rebels ended their season 9-3 overall and will lose 12 seniors to graduation this year.

Rushford-Peterson 44, MCC 21

MCC7 7 0 7 – 21

RP6 6 12 20 – 44

SCORING SUMMARY

First Quarter

RP-Noah Carlson 18 run (kick fail) 7:59

MCC-Kellan Johnson 2 run (Mason Woldt kick) 0:54

Second Quarter

RP-Carlson 2 run (pass fail) 7:58

MCC-Brady Kremer 8 run (Woldt kick) 0:16

Third Quarter

RP-Carlson 3 run (pass fail) 4:25

RP-Landon Skalet 15 pass to Jake Paulson (kick fail) 2:28

Fourth Quarter

MCC-Zach Aanenson 2 run (Woldt kick) 7:54

RP-Lukas Rasmussen 73 kick return (kick fail) 7:44

RP-Carlson 5 run (Skalet pass) 5:15

RP-Carlson 2 run (kick fail) 1:38

MCC individual stats

Rushing – Aanenson 24-167, Cole Bassett 8-36, Kremer 4-13, Patrick Platt 1-1, Johnson 10-56, Ethan Swanson 4-10

Receiving – Garok Gatchay 1-12, Brady Woldt 3-43, Bassett 1-10, Dakota Thunderhawk 1-4

Passing (comp-att-yds-td-int) – Kremer 6-13-74-0-1