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Prep football: Cromwell-Wright advances in Nine-Man

Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer Cromwell-Wright senior Isaac Shelton (18) throws the football in Friday’s Nine-Man state quarterfinal game against Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdal at Chet Anderson Stadium in Bemidji, Minn. 1 / 2
Jamey Malcomb / Cloquet Pine Journal Cromwell-Wright senior Kannon Korpela (22) carries the ball during the Cardinals' 14-7 Nine-Man state quarterfinal win over Norman County East/Ulen Hitterdal on Friday night in Bemidji. 2 / 2

The Cromwell-Wright defense waited until their backs were against the wall, but held Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdal to preserve a 14-7 win in a Nine-Man state tournament quarterfinal Friday night at Chet Anderson Stadium in Bemidji, Minn.

The Cardinals were backed up at their own 7-yard line, but forced the Titans into a fourth-and-2 situation with a little over a minute to play in the third quarter. The Cromwell-Wright defensive line blew up the Titans on the snap, forcing a fumble and taking over on downs and preserving a seven-point lead.

"It was great timing," Cardinals coach Jeff Gronner said. "A perfect example of bend, don't break defense."

Cromwell-Wright (12-0) appeared to be stopped at its own 21-yard line a few plays later, but Gronner decided to go for it, with the offensive line opening up a hole for backup quarterback Isaac Shelton to pick up the first down and keep the clock moving.

"I just wanted to keep it going," Gronner said. "Our offense was moving the ball and put together a time-consuming drive."

Senior Cameron Cahoon had a 6-yard touchdown run on the opening drive of the second half to give the Cardinals the 14-7 lead, after a half where the Titans mostly held the Cardinals in check. Cahoon finished with 76 yards and the score, while Kannon Korpela had 82 yards on 19 carries, mostly in the second half.

"We were a lot more physical in the second half," Gronner said. "At halftime, I really challenged our guys, I challenged our backs and our offensive line and they really came out and played more physical."

Cromwell-Wright will face Spring Grove in a Nine-Man semifinal at 11:30 a.m. Thursday at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The Lions defeated Russell-Tyler-Ruthton 27-6 Friday to advance.

On the opening drive, NCE/UE drove the ball nearly 90 yards, mostly on the back of a 70-yard Noah Klemetson run to set the Titans up with first and goal. Tate Hoseth ran it in a couple plays later to give the Titans a 7-0 lead, but after that the Cardinals defense was able to bottle up the Titans run game.

NCE/UE 7-0-0-0—0

Cromwell-Wright 0-6-8-0—14

NCE/UE — Tate Hoseth 1 run (NCE/UE kick)

CW — Isaac Shelton 2 run (run failed)

CW — Cameron Cahoon 2 run (Cahoon run)

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb has been a reporter for the Pine Journal since October 2018. He previously worked as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle from 2015-2018. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. 

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