Blossoms survive a thrillerPublished 9:18am Sunday, November 13, 2011
ST. PAUL — With a trip to the Metrodome on the line — Blooming Prairie and Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity combined for almost 800 yards of total offense and committed a total of four costly turnovers.
But it was a simple two point conversion play that decided who would move on to the Class ‘A’ state semifinals.
Luckily for the Awesome Blossoms, who won 35-34 over Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity at Macalester College Friday, Gabe Kartes had done his homework.
LPHT pulled to within 35-34 when Matt Alberts plunged in from two yards out with 4:04 left in the game.
The Bulldogs elected to go for two and it looked like sophomore quarterback Alex Heigl, who accounted for 229 yards and four TDs on the night, was headed for the end zone when Kartes, a senior corner, and Weston Fiebiger closed in on him and stopped him about a foot short of the pylon.
“I went straight with the quarterback and Gabe was right next to me,” Fiebiger said. “We met him at the same time and got him just enough to keep him from the pylon.”
Fiebiger was in the right spot on the option play, thanks to some advice that Kartes had given him the day before.
“I told Weston yesterday that I promise I’ll get him if he doesn’t throw it,” Kartes said. “I said I’ll promise I’ll slow him down and you can come hit him. It worked.”
After the stop, BP (11-1 overall) ran out the remaining time and the win was sealed after Kartes gained three yards to the LPHT 47-yard line on fourth and one play. Of course, that play had it’s excitement as well as quarterback Luc Zellmer nearly fumbled before the handoff.
“I didn’t think we were gonna get it,” Kartes said. “It hit Zellmer’s leg and I was scared he wasn’t going to get me the ball. Once I got it to the outside I just dove; I didn’t even want to run.”
The final run put an end to a hectic fourth quarter that saw BP commit two turnovers and LPHT (9-2 overall) score two touchdowns. The Bulldog’s final score was set up when Heigl won a jump ball to pick off a pass from Zellmer at his own 38 and he ran it back all the way to the Blossoms’ 12 yard line.
The Bulldogs’ other fourth quarter score came off a fumble from Luke Hueman at BP’s 43 yard line.
As things looked to be falling apart, the Blossoms never lost their focus in the fourth quarter.
“We had to keep the mentality that were still ahead,” Kartes said. “It’s our senior year and we’ve got to go hard all of the time.”
BP also struggled to close out the second half as Heigl scrambled and found Ryan Quast over the top for a 39-yard score as time expired to make it a 28-21 BP lead at the break.
“It was hard because he looked like he was going tuck and run and everybody came up,” Fiebiger said. “I saw the throw and I thought he was overthrowing and then they went in for a score and that stung. But we had to overcome it.”
BP opened the second half in strong fashion as they forced a three-and-out and then drove down to the goal-line. After getting stuffed twice on running plays, Zellmer rolled to his right, where he had his pass deflected, but it bounced into the hands of Kartes for a TD that made it 35-21 with 3:47 left in the third quarter.
“That was a big play. Gabe’s a great player and he just makes plays out there,” said Zellmer.
Zellmer, who is now two TD tosses from tying Minnesota’s all-time record, had his best game since coming back from his hand injury as he threw for 250 yards and four scores, but he also had plenty of help from his receivers.
His first TD pass was a nine-yard screen to Jonny Kraling on third and goal, then he hit Kartes on a swing pass that turned into a 38 yard score and his other TD toss went to Michael Thomas, who caught the ball at the 15-yard line and cut it back against the grain to score from 34 yards out.
“They’ve been doing that all year,” Zellmer said. “They make plays and I’ve just got to get the ball out sooner so they can make some more plays.”
BP couldn’t have started the game much better as it scored on its first possession and the Bulldogs fumbled away Pat Jones’ pop fly kick off.
While the kick worked, it wasn’t actually intended by BP.
“I wish I could say we practiced that, but we didn’t. That was serendipity,” BP head coach Chad Gimbel said.
The Blossoms scored on a two-yard Zellmer run to go up 14-0 with 5:11 left in the first quarter.
This is the second trip to the Class ‘A’ state semifinals in three years for BP, which will take on Dawson/Boyd (11-0 overall) in the Metrodome Nov. 19 at 10:15 a.m.
BP 14 14 7 0 — 35
LPHT 0 21 0 13 — 34
(BP) Jonny Kraling 9 pass from Luc Zellmer (Pat Jones kick) (11 plays, 77 yards) 6:30
(BP) Zellmer 2 run (Jones kick) (5 plays, 37 yards) 5:11
(LPHT) Alex Heigl (Shawn Gebhardt kick) (14 plays, 62 yards) 6:29
(BP) Kartes 38 pass from Zellmer (Jones kick) (4 plays, 67 yards) 4:31
(LPHT) Nick Macheml 24 pass from Heigl (6 plays, 65 yards) 3:04
(BP) Michael Thomas 34 pass from Zellmer (Jones kick) (4 plays, 67 yards) 1:27
(LPHT) Ryan Quast 39 pass from Heigl (Tanner Mork pass from Heigl) :00
(BP) Kartes 1 pass from Zellmer (Jones kick) (13 plays, 51 yards) 3:47
(LPHT) Heigl 6 run (Gebhardt kick) (10 plays, 57 yards) 10:34
(LPHT) Matt Alberts 2 run (run failed) (2 plays, 12 yards) 4:04
Rushing: Jonny Kraling, 16-for-67; Luc Zellmer, 10-for-46, TD; Gabe Kartes, 9-for-43; Ryan McCabe, 4-for-8; Passing: Zellmer, 17-for-24, 250, 4 TD, INT; Receiving: Kartes, 7-for-105, 2 TD; Michael Thomas, 3-for-66, TD; Luke Hueman, 3-for-34; Kraling, 2-for-26, TD; Isaiah Toquam, 1-for-6; Interceptions: Weston Fiebiger (1); Fumble recoveries: Hueman (1); Penalties: 7-for-52
Rushing: Alex Heigl, 14-for-87, 2 TD; Sam Scoblic, 14-for-62; Matt Alberts, 8-for-38, TD; Nick Machemehl, 2-for-11; Passing: Heigl, 11-for-17, 142, 2 TD, INT; Receiving: Nick Machemehl, 8-for-68, TD; Ryan Quast, 1-for-39, TD; Garrett Shultz, 1-for-28; Scoblic, 1-for-7; Penalties: 4-for-33