Cards remain undefeated after battle of unbeatens
Friday night's weather was less than ideal for high school football in the area. In McGregor it was no exception, but the fans watching the Mercs and Cromwell do battle, two undefeated and top-ranked teams, probably were a bit warmer because of t...
Friday night's weather was less than ideal for high school football in the area. In McGregor it was no exception, but the fans watching the Mercs and Cromwell do battle, two undefeated and top-ranked teams, probably were a bit warmer because of the intensity of the game. In the end, it was No. 2 ranked Cromwell coming out with an impressive 23-20 win over the No. 10 ranked Mercuries.
"McGregor is a very good team," said Cards coach Jeff Gronner following the game. "They are senior-dominated - they have 12 or more seniors on their roster. When you have that much experience and talent in the backfield, you have a tough opponent."
The Mercs took the opening kickoff and marched down to the Cards 28-yard line where quarterback Luke Sorenson scooted in for a touchdown. Sorenson then hit Eric Sather on a two-point conversion pass that gave McGregor the early 8-0 lead.
"Sorenson's run highlighted what we have had problems with this year - and that is open field tackling," mentioned Gronner. "To reach our goals this year, we need to be better at that."
The Mercs then kicked off to the Cards who took over on their own 23-yard line. On first down the ball was fumbled on the exchange between center and quarterback, but on second down it was Cody Hendrickson, quarterback for Cromwell, hitting Shale Korpela in full stride for a play that covered 77 yards and a touchdown. Hendrickson then ran in the conversion for an 8-8 tie.
"We had been talking about that play to Korpela all week and knew it would come open late against their defense," commented Gronner. "We just did a poor job of holding onto the football and field conditions were not an issue and ball security seemed to be an issue for us, but not them."
Before the first quarter ended the Cards struck again, this time when Hendrickson bolted in for a 33-yard touchdown run. Again, Hendrickson tacked on the two-point conversion giving the Cards a 16-8 lead.
While the Cards managed to get the lead, they were having trouble hanging on to the football. Cromwell had nine fumbles in the game and lost two of those.
Leading the Mercs on the ground was senior running back Christopher Pierce, who was able to gain large chunks of yardage with his cutback ability.
"Pierce is a hard guy to tackle and see because he is so short and runs so low to the ground," explained Gronner. "It was very nice to see that we could win a game against a good team."
McGregor picked up a score late in the first half when Sorenson hit Matt Carlstrom on a 5-yard touchdown pass, but the Cards snuffed out the two-point conversion attempt to keep a lead at 16-14 entering halftime.
Midway through the third quarter, Hendrickson found Tyler Burggraff open down the left sidelines and hit him for a 31-yard touchdown pass, making it 22-14. The Cards then booted the extra point to go up 23-14.
McGregor mounted a comeback when the diminutive Pierce slithered in from the 12-yard line for a touchdown, but again the Cards managed to shut down the conversion run, making the score 23-20.
Hendrickson had a stellar game at quarterback for the Cards by rushing for 67 yards and passing for 212 yards. Korpela had 77 yards receiving and 47 yards on the ground. Adam Smith recorded 22 yards in pass receptions and 27 yards rushing, and Burggraff had 97 yards in pass receptions.
Defensively, it was Hendrickson recording 20 tackles and picking up an interception, Burggraff adding 14 tackles and the key interception on McGregor's final drive of the game, and Shale Korpela notching 10 tackles.
Cromwell is 6-0 on the season and the Mercs suffer their first loss in falling to 5-1.