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Football: Turnovers douse Bombers

Cannon Falls quarterback Hunter Johnson (5) scampers downfield during Friday’s Southern Football Alliance Red division game against Byron at John Burch Park in Cannon Falls. Johnson and the Bombers fell to the Bears, 27-15. (Republican Eagle photo by Kyle Stevens)1 / 2
Cannon Falls wide receiver Garrett Beach (9) tries to break a tackle by Byron’s Mark Krings. (Republican Eagle photo by Kyle Stevens)2 / 2

CANNON FALLS – Turnovers are often an indicator of how a football game will turn out. Take the ball away from the other team, and the chances of victory rise. Give the ball up too many times, and the odds of a win fall drastically.

With seven turnovers, Cannon Falls gave away its chance to upset Byron Friday night in a Southern Football Alliance Red division contest. The Bombers were able to keep it close despite losing the turnover battle, 7 to 1, falling 27-15 to the Bears.

“Byron is a very good 4A team, and we know that. But we feel we’re a better team than that, and you can’t win a football game when you turn the ball over seven times. You just aren’t going to win,” said Cannon Falls head coach Josh Hofstedt. “And when you’re within two (touchdowns) of a good football team, that’s on us, we didn’t perform. (The) coaches, we’ve got to get better next week, the players have got to get better next week, and that’s what we do now: pick it up and move on.”

Quarterback Hunter Johnson, who thrashed Kenyon-Wanamingo last week, threw five interceptions against Byron, and also fumbled twice, though one was a backwards pass that was mishandled in the flat.

The senior signal-caller didn’t shy away from his poor evening, crediting the Bears and their coaches for having the team prepared for an offense that put up 40 points and 165 yards on 14 of 17 passing last week.

“They have a lot of very talented cornerbacks, and they ran a good scheme against our kind of offense, so they prepared very well. We just have to do better next game,” Johnson said.

Johnson finished 11 of 27 for 149 yards and a touchdown pass to Bailey Mills, as well as 85 yards on three throws to Alex Bultena. Bultena also completed a pass, a two-point conversion to Mills. Johnson also led the Bombers with 120 rushing yards on 22 carries, one of which was a 35-yard jaunt that pulled Cannon Falls within 12 points. No other Cannon Falls player had more than two rushes or 10 yards.

“It was a QB draw, and just a big seam and good blocking. I barely got touched,” Johnson said.

But it was the turnovers and the field position that Byron was able to generate from them that set the tone early.

After Johnson’s first interception, the Bears drove 16 yards in four plays to open the scoring with 4 minutes, 31 seconds left in the first quarter. Eleven minutes later, another interception ended in a 20-yard Dan Fujan run that capped a brief, two-play, 39-yard drive.

“In the first half, especially, offensively, we didn’t help (the defense) at all,” Hofstedt said. “That’s the hard part; you can’t blame offense or defense because it’s the same 11 guys for us running out there. We’re a smaller school and that’s what we have.”

Johnson settled down a bit on the ensuing Cannon Falls drive, finding Mills on a cross-body throw that zipped through the defense.

Byron would use the halftime break to refocus on its own passing attack, as Jonny Mracek threw scoring tosses of 48 and 66 yards before the five-minute mark of the third quarter. Johnson’s scoring run with 8:19 to go pulled the Bombers within two touchdowns, but fumbles and interceptions killed the final four drives of the evening.

“Mostly, we’ve got a lot of work to do. We didn’t do some things that we thought we were good at. We’ve got to get better next week,” Hofstedt said.

The Bombers (1-1 overall, 0-1 SFA Red) head to La Crescent (1-1, 0-1) next week. The Lancers lost 22-15 to Kasson-Mantorville Friday.

Kyle Stevens
Kyle Stevens is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, Kyle worked at the Owatonna People’s Press, as well as KWLM and KLFN in Willmar. You can contact Kyle by phone at (651) 301-7879, via e-mail at, and follow him on Twitter @RE_KStevens.
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