Football: Bombers rally in 2nd halfCannon Falls’ defense holds La Crescent scoreless after halftime on the way to a victory
By: Joe Brown, The Republican Eagle
CANNON FALLS – Cannon Falls head football coach Josh Hofstedt hates that his Bombers are referred to as a second-half team.
But after holding La Crescent scoreless in the second half on the way to a 17-14 victory at home on Friday, Hofstedt softened his stance just a tad.
“If that’s what we are, I guess we’re going to have to embrace it,” Hofstedt said. “We play better in every second half. A win’s a win and we’re happy to come out with a win.”
Even after forcing the Lancers into three second-half turnovers, Friday’s Hiawatha Valley League Blue game went down to the wire, as La Crescent had one more shot for the end zone with 1 minute, 28 seconds left in the game. Austin DeBoer threw up the deep ball, but Bombers sophomore Garrett Beach came down with the interception to clinch the 3-point victory.
“One of our cornerbacks told me, ‘Shade the wide receiver,’ and I did what he told me,” Beach said. “Everyone was just high-fiving me and patting me on the head afterwards. It was crazy.”
Early on, the Bombers could not corral La Crescent’s passing game. Looking for one-on-one wheel routes all night, DeBoer put the Lancers (2-2, 1-2 HVL) in the end zone after connecting with Graham Eddy for a 23-yard touchdown for the 7-0 advantage in the first quarter.
In the second, another deep strike, this time to Zach Melbostad, put La Crescent at Cannon Falls’ 12-yard line. DeBoer had 90 of his 160 passing yards in the first half, and punched in a 4-yard dive with 5:54 left till halftime to put the Lancers up 14-0.
But with a little time left in the half, the Bombers pieced together a scoring drive. After a roughing-the-passer penalty put Cannon Falls at midfield, quarterback Hunter Johnson connected with Colton Sande for a 32-yard catch to get into the red zone. Johnson completed the drive with an 8-yard pass to Alex Bultena to put the Bombers on the scoreboard with 30 seconds left in the first half.
“Hunter had a great drive down the field late in the first half,” said Cannon Falls running back Ian Althoff. “We were fired up heading into halftime.”
Looking to continue its second-half dominance, the Bombers forced La Crescent into a three-and-out on the first drive after halftime.
Once Cannon Falls got the ball, the running game would not be slowed down.
Putting together a methodical 56-yard drive that chewed up most of the third quarter, Althoff, who overcame cramps in the second half to run for 140 yards on 22 carries, tied the game on a 1-yard burst up the middle for the score.
“They get stronger as the game goes on, which is a good thing,” Hofstedt said. “We just got to get them fired up in the first half so we can put a full game together.”
Chaos ensued on the next kickoff when the ball bounced off the foot of La Crescent’s Ryan Kling and into the clutches of the Bombers’ Zach Holes, putting the ball at the Lancers’ 29-yard line.
Four plays later, junior kicker Derek Johnson split the uprights for a 34-yard field goal that proved to be the game winner.
“It feels pretty sweet,” Johnson said of the kick.
Hofstedt added, “I don’t think Derek has missed this year. He’s kicked a 48 and 50 in practice, granted with no rush, but he’s good from there if he has to. He’s been real consistent in the 30s.”
From there, Cannon Falls (3-1, 1-1 HVL) locked up the game with a pair of red zone interceptions by Johnson and Beach.
“Garrett coming up with that game-changing pick was huge,” Althoff said. “I don’t know if the scoreboard would be what it was if Garrett Beach didn’t make that pick.”
The Bombers are on the road next Friday for an HVL Blue match-up with Byron, while La Crescent hosts Kasson-Mantorville.