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Football: Goodhue can't climb back against Cotter

A gang of Goodhue defenders try to bring down Winona Cotter running back Ryan Grant (28) during Wednesday's HVL Gold matchup in Goodhue.1 / 2
Goodhue's Riley Huemann, right, looks to get past Winona Cotter defender Tristan Penic during the first quarter of Wednesday's game in Goodhue. Huemann ran eight times for 36 yards for the Wildcats.2 / 2

GOODHUE - For the second straight week, Goodhue was the victim of a big-play passing game, as Winona Cotter jumped out to a 28-8 halftime lead thanks to three 50-plus yard touchdown passes.

With another half of football to go, the Wildcats agreed to put the first half behind them and start fresh in their regular season finale.

"The only reason they had so many points is because they got us on a couple big plays," said Goodhue senior defensive back/running back Kyle Drehmel. "We made some switches at halftime, and we just had to change our mindset. Just keep your head on the next play and don't worry about the past."

Thanks to a stellar defense that held the Ramblers scoreless for most of the second half, the Wildcats still had a fighting chance for the victory. But Goodhue couldn't get out of the big first-half hole, falling 34-14 in Wednesday's Hiawatha Valley League Gold division matchup.

"They controlled the whole line of scrimmage in the first half," said Wildcats head coach Tony Poncelet, "and we came out and we did that in the third quarter."

With the loss, Goodhue (3-5, 2-4 HVL Gold) dropped to fifth in the Section 1A standings, and will open the playoffs Tuesday on the road against Southland. The Rebels clinched the fourth seed Wednesday with a 21-7 win over Fillmore Central.

Goodhue struck first Wednesday, capitalizing on several Cotter blunders. After the Ramblers fumbled on the opening drive, the Wildcats were able to drive down the field, getting into Cotter territory. Emotions got the better of the Ramblers with a face mask and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on back-to-back plays.

In the red zone, Drehmel took an outside sweep into the end zone for a 15-yard score. Quarterback Tyler Schumacher connected with Alex Weckerling for the two-point conversion, putting Goodhue up 8-0 with 5 minutes, 29 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

In need of big plays, Ramblers quarterback John DeMarais tried to find 6-foot-3 wide receiver Jon Eichman, and the senior delivered in decisive fashion. On 3rd-and-7 at Cotter's 22-yard line, Eichman delivered on a 78-yard touchdown catch to close the gap to 8-7 late in the first quarter. Then just 58 seconds into the second quarter, DeMarais found Eichman open in the middle of the field on a 3rd-and-18 play for a 54-yard score, putting Cotter up 14-8.

Following a Wildcat punt, DeMarais aired it out for one more bomb, connecting with Jason Klug for a 67-yard touchdown.

Eichman had a team-high four catches for 162 yards, and DeMarais completed 10 of 19 passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns for Cotter (3-5, 3-3 HVL Gold).

"At the end of the day," Poncelet said, "their wideouts were playmakers."

After a 1-yard touchdown run by Joe Koll put the Ramblers up 28-8 at halftime, Goodhue's defense finally hunkered down and forced Cotter to punt on its first drive of the second half.

"Everyone was really determined," Drehmel said of the defense. "We were playing quite well as a team in the second half. Unfortunately, it just wasn't enough."

On the ensuing drive, Drehmel punched in his second score of the game on a 1-yard run up the gut, helping cut the gap to 28-14.

With leading rusher Dillon Huemann sitting out of Wednesday's game with a high ankle sprain, Drehmel took the bulk of the carries, rushing 19 times for 48 yards.

"We've been a nice 1-2 punch with Dillon and Kyle, but with Dillon out, we needed (Drehmel) to be the work horse," Poncelet said. "I thought Kyle did a solid job."

Trying to make up the two-score deficit, the Wildcats' defense forced Cotter into two fumbles, a punt and a turnover on downs. But Goodhue was never able to convert any of their gained opportunities with two turnovers, two turnovers on downs and a punt.

With the Wildcats' hopes for a comeback all but gone, the Ramblers added one more touchdown with 34 seconds left in the game on a two-yard touchdown run by Ryan Grant.

"We had our chances to come back," Poncelet said, "but we turned it over on downs and we fumbled it."

Joe Brown

Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.

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