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Football: Lourdes pulls away from Pine Island

Pine Island's Joe Bauer dives at the legs of Rochester Lourdes' Carter Greguson during the Panthers' 35-14 loss to the Eagles on Saturday in the Section 1AAA semifinals at Rochester Regional Sports Stadium. (Republican Eagle photo by Kyle Stevens)1 / 2
Pine Island's Brady Braaten finds a hole during the Panthers' 35-14 loss to the Eagles on Saturday in the Section 1AAA semifinals at Rochester Regional Sports Stadium. (Republican Eagle photo by Kyle Stevens)2 / 2

ROCHESTER – Keegan Majerus raised some eyebrows, and the defense tried to keep it close. But back-to-back turnovers to start the second half was too much for Pine Island to overcome in a 35-14 loss to Rochester Lourdes in the Section 1AAA semifinals on Saturday at Rochester Regional Sports Stadium.

Majerus scored on a nine-yard run late in the first quarter to pull the Panthers within a point of the Eagles, 7-6. The point after was blocked, and that was as close as Pine Island would get as Lourdes added two more scores before halftime, and two more in the third quarter before Majerus and Joe Bauer connected late in the fourth for the final touchdown.

“The first quarter we had some problems running the ball. But that's a good football team, that's a good program,” Pine Island head coach John Stapleton said of Lourdes. “In the second half, it was a one-possession game, and we turned the ball over. That was disappointing. You can't shoot yourself in the foot against a team like Lourdes and expect to win. But that's what happened.”

Carter Greguson, who had 148 yards on 16 carries, started the scoring at the 6-minute, 25-second mark of the first quarter on a 21-yard touchdown run. Majerus scored with 37 seconds left, and the Panthers had belief.

In the second, Jake Groteboer ran in a score from three yards out at 10:19, followed by Noah Hillman's 14-yard run at 6:57. At 21-6, Pine Island wasn't out of the game. But the Panthers needed to get on the board early in the second half to make it a game.

Instead, Majerus and Brady Braaten threw interceptions on Pine Island's first two drives of the second half, and both led to touchdowns for Lourdes. Brendan Trahan had a two-yard touchdown after the first pick, set up by a 42-yard return that put the ball inside the five-yard line. Greguson then broke a 50-yard run after the second turnover, and the game was all but sealed.

“It was a back-breaker,” Stapleton said. “We need to throw the ball effectively, and that's been a struggle for us this year. The way our offense works, we need to throw and mix in some play-action and some three-step. That's something we'll work on and get better. And we will. We've done it in the past, this year was just a struggle.”

Majerus completed 8 of 17 passes for 66 yards, with Jake Navratil catching three for 41 yards. Braaten had 36 yards on 14 carries as the Eagles defense dominated for most of the game before giving way to second and third-stringers late in the third quarter.

After starting the season 3-1, the Panthers plummeted, losing four-straight heading into the playoffs. But Pine Island came up with a win over Tri-City United in the quarterfinals, ending two losing streaks against the Titans.

“We started strong then had a bad run for four games. We had some injuries (and) we had an outbreak of Pertussis. But to come back and win a playoff game, I don't think Pine Island had won a game in (Class) 3A. To do that, it's something to build on,” Satpleton said. “But we talked about some offseason work that we need to continue. We need to get more kids involved in offseason preparation. That's not where it needs to be if we're to have consistent success.”

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 kstevens@republican-eagle.com, and follow him on Twitter @RE_KStevens.
(651) 301-7879
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