Football: Bombers advance to section finaleROSEVILLE - Concordia Academy-Roseville scored on its first two possessions of the game Saturday against Cannon Falls and dominated the line of scrimmage.
By: Chris Harrell, The Republican Eagle
ROSEVILLE - Concordia Academy-Roseville scored on its first two possessions of the game Saturday against Cannon Falls and dominated the line of scrimmage.
The Beacons had all the momentum and the Bombers’ Saul Carter said the Concordia Academy players kept telling Cannon Falls to get ready to go home.
Carter and the Bombers had other plans.
“No. 18 on their team told us ‘We’re going to score and you guys are going to end up packing your bags,’” Carter said. “I told him, ‘we’ll see what happens.’”
Cannon Falls tightened up its defense, thanks in large part to Carter with two sacks and a fumble recovery, and the Bombers scored 17 unanswered points, intercepting a desperation pass with seven seconds left in regulation to seal a 17-14 victory and move on the Section 4AAA title game Friday.
The win gives Cannon Falls just its second trip to the section title game in program history, the last time coming in 1996.
“That was terrible,” Cannon Falls head coach Josh Hofstedt said of sweating out the final seconds. “If I had any hair left to lose it would be gone. Those are the tight ones that probably take years off your life but it was very exciting and we were happy to win.”
The Bombers (7-3) finished with 199 yards of total offense but won the field position battle with stellar special teams. Concordia Academy returned one kick near midfield but the Beacons started the majority of their drives deep in their own territory.
“It gave them long fields and with that Veer offense that’s what you’ve got to do, make them run the whole field,” Hofstedt said.
Concordia Academy carved up Cannon Falls in the first quarter, driving the ball 76 yards on its first possession of the game, ending with a 1-yard touchdown run by Austin Moldenhauer at 5 minutes, 21 seconds of the first quarter.
The Bombers returned the ensuing kickoff past midfield and connected on a long pass play on their first play from scrimmage but two plays later a pass slipped through a Cannon Falls player’s hands and was intercepted. The Beacons found the end zone again shortly after on another run by Moldenhauer to go up 14-0 with 1:36 remaining in the opening quarter.
Derek Johnson helped cut the lead for Cannon Falls with a 32-yard field goal on the next drive and from that point on, the Bombers’ defense would not budge.
“They got us right away,” Hofstedt said. “We didn’t really even adjust. We had a couple different plans that we were going with and we flip-flopped between them but mostly the difference was the kids. They started beating blocks and they started making tackles and creating plays and that was the difference.”
Concordia Academy turned the ball over on downs three times and fumbled twice in the next two quarters.
Jordan Lundell scored the Bombers’ second touchdown on an 18-yard catch from Hunter Johnson on 2nd-and-goal after a fumbled snap.
“I think our passing game was really clicking for us and when they figured that out, then we ran it and that was working,” Lundell, who had four catches for 83 yards, said. “We just mixed it up and we drove the field.”
Cannon Falls added the winning touchdown on a 4th-and-1 play from the 6-yard line as Johnson found an opening for the rushing score with 6:30 left in the third quarter.
Concordia Academy had numerous chances to tie the game in the final quarter but the Bombers held on and the final pass of the game fell into Johnson’s arms inside Cannon Falls’ territory. As the final horn sounded, the Bombers relished their small town status and soaked in the victory.
“We just believed,” Carter said. “I don’t care about the underdog stuff. We’ve been the underdog a lot this year. You’ve got to go out and win. I always knew my boys would do it.”
Sterling Carlson finished with 15 tackles and a sack for Cannon Falls and Ian Althoff carried the ball 23 times for 80 yards in the win.
Baeza Tensaie led the Beacons (6-4) with 26 carries for 103 yards.
Only one road block remains to keep the Bombers from making the Class 3A state tournament in third-ranked and top-seeded St. Croix Lutheran. Cannon Falls will play the Crusaders Friday at 7 p.m. in West St. Paul. St. Croix Lutheran defeated Minnehaha Academy 41-13 Saturday.
“We just have to come out and play our hardest against one of the best teams in the state,” Lundell said. “We’ve got to prepare well and I think we can come out with a win. I think we can go far. We believe it. The coaches believe it and all the players believe it.”