Football: Norwood-Young America outlasts Z-M
ZUMBROTA – After a second-half slugfest between Zumbrota-Mazeppa and Norwood-Young America, the Raiders were able to finally land the knockout blow.
Sitting at 3rd-and-short and up 36-35 with over a minute left, sixth-seeded NYA dealt a fatal blow to the third-seeded Cougars with a 26-yard play-action pass to cement the Section 2AA road victory.
“It’s never easy to lose like that,” said Z-M head coach Willie Rauen, “especially in the manner that we did lose.”
Down 35-28 with 2 minutes, 34 seconds left in the game, NYA made it a one-point game when quarterback Isaac Hormann scored his third rushing touchdown of the day on a 1-yard quarterback sneak. Then in a game where neither team slowed down the opposing offense, the Raiders went for two and scored the conversion on a halfback pass from Noah Peterson to Hormann.
Z-M marched down the field before getting stalled at midfield on 4th and a half-yard. The Cougars handed the ball off to their workhorse running back, Jacob Tschann, but he was stuffed on the off-tackle run behind the line of scrimmage, giving the ball to the Raiders.
Afterwards, NYA used its simple-yet-effective run game to wind down the clock, and the 26-yard strike from Hormann to Casey Clemensen put the Raiders into the second round.
“We couldn’t make a stop,” said Rauen after his team allowed 269 rushing yards. “They didn’t do anything funny. We were prepared for everything they did and we didn’t tackle very well.”
After the two teams were tied 14-14 at halftime, NYA struck first as Hormann found Clemensen for an 18-yard touchdown pass with 6:29 left in the third quarter. The Cougars were quick to tie it up when in just over two minutes, Kurt Gadient found Jacob Forrey for a 6-yard score to tie it up at 21-21.
NYA and Z-M continued to counter one another. Hormann scrambled into the end zone on a 7-yard bootleg in the waning seconds of the third, only for the Cougars to come out onto the field and score on an 11-yard run from Jacob Tschann to make it 28-27. Tschann’s extra-point kick went wide right, but he made up for it on the kickoff when he ricocheted the ball off a Raiders’ player and into the hands of Collin Carney.
“We had been kicking it on the ground all game, and we told (Tschann) to kick it at one of their guys,” Rauen said. “We recovered it and finally had some momentum after that.”
For the first time since the first quarter, Z-M took the lead when Gadient tucked behind the line and scored on a quarterback sneak to make it 35-28 with 6:26 remaining. Gadient finished 14-for-19 passing for 263 yards and two touchdowns while also running in a pair of scores. Ellis Hirman (4 catches, 77 yards) and Jacob Forrey (3-40) each had a touchdown grab for Z-M.
“Kurt played another excellent game,” Rauen said. “He got the ball to the open receivers and he was able to take it and get some extra yards running, which was great.”
While Gadient aired it out, Hormann was able to find the end zone all night for the Raiders, rushing for 47 yards and three scores while going 6 of 7 through the air for 104 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Combined, the two teams accounted for 780 yards and 38 first downs. Ultimately, NYA saved its season after stopping Tschann on fourth down.
“We had a chance at the end and we only could get two feet instead of the yard,” Rauen said.
The Raiders (2-7) advance in the 2AA tournament and will face second-seeded Medford on Saturday. Medford is coming off a 34-16 victory over seventh-seeded LeSueur-Henderson on Tuesday.
The Cougars end the year at 4-5 overall.