Minneota’s second quarter burst ends Mahnomen’s season
No. 6 Minneota erupted for a 26-point second quarter that propelled the Vikings to a 34-22 victory over No. 8 Mahnomen in the Minnesota Class A football state quarterfinals at Viking Bank Field in Alexandria Saturday afternoon.
“They’re tough and they come at you,” said Mahnomen head coach John Clark, Jr. “They’re big up front and kind of had us on our heels, but what guts we played with. We belonged with them and gave them one heck of a game. I couldn’t be prouder of our team with the effort they showed. Their heads should be high and they should be proud of themselves.”
The Indians pulled to within four points trailing 26-22 at the end of the third quarter. Chris Busche’s seven-yard touchdown run and conversion capped an 11-play, 56-yard drive of all running plays.
Mahnomen played smash mouth football all game and ate up time with lengthy drives trying to keep the ball out of the hands of a potent Viking offense.
“Mahnomen did a nice job of taking us out of our game plan,” Minneota head coach Chad Johnston said. “Credit to the kids, they stuck with it and did what we needed to do. We would have liked to see a little more balance out of our group but it’s nice to have a kid like Hennen if you need to ride it.”
The Vikings’ 6-foot-3, 225-pound running back Isaac Hennen was the workhorse for Minneota rushing 21 times for 170 yards and four of the five Minneota touchdowns.
Hennen’s fourth of the game came in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter and the Viking defense kept Mahnomen off the scoreboard for the final 12 minutes of play.
“We were a couple of steps away from making some plays to make the game interesting,” said Clark.
Both Busche and Jon Starkey had chances at interceptions in the second half with nothing but paydirt in front of them but in both instances, the Vikings were able to complete the pass.
The duo led the Indians’ offensive attack. Busche rushed 25 times for 122 yards and two scores. Starkey was 27-92 and one touchdown.
Starkey had the lone touchdown of the first quarter on a one-yard run and threw to Jameson Beckman for an 8-0 lead with less than 90 seconds remaining in the opening frame.
Mahnomen’s score came after a big stop in the red zone on Minneota’s opening drive and the Indians had some early good luck on special teams.
The first scoring drive was kept alive by an illegal formation flag on a 60-yard punt by Starkey to bury Minneota inside the 15-yard line. On the second punt attempt, Brant Buysse coughed up the ball on the return at midfield and Dan Snetsinger recovered to keep the Indians in possession of the football.
Mahnomen ran 22 plays and took nearly 10 minutes off the clock.
“We had a little giddy-up in our step in the first quarter and that was fun to see,” said Clark.
The Vikings took the lead scoring on consecutive drives.
Hennen scored on a 14-yard run to get within two points trailing 8-6. Two plays later, Starkey was stripped of the football and Minneota needed only three plays to move 33 yards and lead 12-8 on a Hennen three-yard run.
Mahnomen regained the lead moving the ball 76 yards on eight plays leading to a 22-yard Busche touchdown rush and a 14-12 advantage with five minutes until halftime.
The lead lasted 24 seconds.
Viking quarterback Alex Pohlen found Thomas Hennen on a 65-yard touchdown pass to grab momentum back and a 20-14 lead.
The Indians faced fourth-and-three at their own 37 and Clark opted to go for the first down as the Viking offense was on a roll.
Minneota took over on downs and added another score on a Hennen eight-yard run to lead 26-14 at the break.
Mahnomen did what they had to do with the football owning 30-minutes of possession time to 18 for Minneota. Total yards were 366-274 Vikings.
Minneota (12-0) will play the winner of Goodhue (11-0) and Mayer Lutheran (10-1) in the semifinals at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis Saturday, Nov. 18 at 11:30 a.m.
Mahnomen ends the season with a 10-2 mark.
MIN 0 26 0 8 - 34
MAH 8 6 8 0 - 22
MAH - Jon Starkey 1 run. (Starkey pass to Jameson Beckman)
MIN - Isaac Hennen 14 run (run failed)
MIN - Isaac Hennen 3 run (pass failed)
MAH - Chris Busche 22 run. (pass failed)
MIN - Thomas Hennen 65 pass from Alex Pohlen (I. Hennen run)
MIN - Isaac Hennen 8 run (run failed)
MAH - Chris Busche 7 run (Busche run)
MIN - Isaac Hennen 13 run (I. Hennen run)