With less than 9 minutes left to go in the fourth quarter at St. Michael-Albertville Middle School West’s football field last night, the situation for the home team looked a bit dire.
After Rogers’ Gunnar Bloom – whom the Knights again contained the way no other Royals’ opponent did this season – darted into the end zone from 3 yards out, the Royals held a 21-7 lead.
But Jordan Jospeh, who gained more yards on one carry than he did his 13 others combined, turned the game on its ear, setting up the Knights as the Rogers 1 on the ensuing possession. Less than a minute after Rogers’ score, STMA had answered, and it was 21-14.
Then, after STMA stretched the field, letting Rogers down to the Knights’ 16, STMA held on 4th-and-1, perhaps the biggest play from defenses that controlled the middle of the entire game, until the wild final 14 minutes.
STMA’s game-winning drive was methodical. A run here, a screen there, and a clever pass play down the field that was either going to draw a penalty or a completion – it was the former, and the Knights were set up inside the Rogers 20.
One play later, Tyler Hayes caught a screen in the flat, made three men miss, and the Knights had the lead. A 2-point conversion later, after Jackson Greenwaldt tossed it across the field to Tyler Berg, and the Knights had a 22-21 lead.
Two minutes later, Rogers’ last drive fizzled, ending in a blocked field goal try by Andy Borchardt, and it was in the books.
The win catapults STMA into the No. 1 seed in Section 6-5A, overtaking both Rogers and top-ranked Elk River. And, with St. Francis topping Chisago Lakes, STMA claimed the outright championship in the Mississippi 8 Conference, going 5-0 in their division and 7-1 overall.
The Elks are the No. 1 team in Class 5A based on QRF score, but ERHS didn’t play any Section 6 opponents, and have two losses vs. St. Michael-Albertville’s one. Both of the Elks’ losses, however, are to Class 6A schools.
Thanks to the formula, STMA will have home field throughout the playoffs, and a first round bye.
Rogers will have to host Wilmar in the opening round, while Monticello will take on Buffalo in the Magic city.
If seeds hold, Rogers will get first crack at the Elks, in the Section semis on Saturday, Oct. 25. Meanwhile, the Knights would host either Buffalo or Monti, two teams it shut out during the regular season by a combined score of 73-0. That game is set for 3 p.m. at Middle School West.
IF YOU GO
What: Section 6-5A semifinals
Where: St. Michael-Albertville Middle School West football field
When: 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25
Who: St. Michael-Albertville, ranked N0. 2 in Class 5A and the top seed in section play, will host the winner of next Tuesday’s Monticello vs. Buffalo game.