Area football recaps for Friday, Sept. 6.
Holdingford 26, Pierz 3
Pierz marched down the field on the opening drive of the game, chewing up nearly half of the first quarter before junior Beau Winscher booted a 30-yard field goal through the uprights to give the Pioneers a 3-0 lead.
Pierz couldn’t manage any more scoring the rest of the way, though, as Holdingford rattled off 26 unanswered points to come away with a 26-3 road win in the key early Central Minnesota Conference showdown.
Holdingford started slowly offensively, coming up empty on its first drive before facing a 3rd-and-12 at midfield midway through the second quarter.
But the Huskers finally broke through on the long conversion, as senior Mitch Messman hit senior Jordan Gombos on a screen pass, Gombos broke a tackle along the sideline and scampered into the end zone to give Holdingford a 6-3 lead.
The Huskers regained possession after an interception, then struck quickly on a 66-yard touchdown pass from Messman to Gombos again on the second play of the ensuing drive.
Holdingford picked off Pierz again on the first play of its next drive, but had a scoring opportunity thwarted at the 1-yard line as the first half expired.
The Huskers didn’t let up in the second half, capitalizing on the first drive out of the break with a 14-yard touchdown connection from Messman to senior Jeremy Springer to extend the lead to 20-3, with junior Matt Messman running in the final score from 20 yards out in the fourth quarter.
Albany 36, Little Falls 34
It was a near reversal from a year ago, when Albany bolted to a 44-0 halftime lead.
But the host Huskies overcame a slow start with a late rally, sneaking past Little Falls 36-34 in the start of Granite Ridge Conference play, Sept. 6.
Following an early Albany touchdown run, the remainder of the first half belonged to Little Falls, as the Flyers built a 20-8 lead at the break.
Senior Jalen Wuchko ran in touchdowns from four and 54 yards out, with senior Lucas Cofell connecting with senior Michael Fregin on a 33-yard pass.
Albany closed the gap to 20-14 early in the third quarter, but Wuchko carried in two more scores to extend the Little Falls lead to 34-14 with 11:16 to play.
However, Albany closed the game with a flourish, striking for three touchdowns in a span of less than seven minutes, with a pair of two-point conversions enough to spell the difference.
Wuchko nearly broke the 200-yard mark on the night rushing, closing with 192 yards on 21 carries.
Junior quarterback Austin Fenske turned in a 6-for-10 night through the air for 136 yards, with senior Jeremy Klein hauling in two of those passes for 64 yards.
Upsala-Swanville Area 40, Browerville 20
The tables may have turned for the nearby Prairie Conference rivals.
Perennial power Browerville posed difficulty for Upsala-Swanville Area (USA) throughout the past decade.
But for the second year in a row, the Patriots delivered the Tigers a setback, this time on the road in a 40-20 rout to improve to 2-0 on the season, Sept. 6.
Junior quarterback Tyler Evans spearheaded the attack with his arm and legs, taking an 82-yard run the distance in the first quarter to give USA a 7-0 lead.
Evans followed with a 1-yard plunge to make it 14-0, with senior Mitch Lange scoring on an 8-yard rush as the Patriots went into halftime on top 21-12.
Following a scoreless third quarter, Evans found junior Jordan Sales on a 7-yard touchdown strike in the fourth to extend the gap to 28-12, with sophomore Justin Cichon converting his fourth extra-point of the night.
Junior Kyle Lange scored on a 59-yard run and sophomore Timmy Valencia-Louden carried it in from six yards out to cap the scoring.
Mitch Lange finished as the rushing leader for USA, carrying the ball 27 times for 148 yards.
Evans completed 5-of-6 passes for 57 yards and closed with 79 yards rushing, with Sales finishing with four receptions for 50 yards.
Mitch Lange posted a team-high eight solo tackles defensively, while Sales made five stops and provided two key sacks in the third quarter inside the Patriots’ 35-yard line
Junior Zach Ainali also recorded five solo tackles.
Royalton 34, United North Central 12
No matter what United North Central (UNC) did, Sept. 6, Royalton had an answer for.
Or perhaps more accurately, a Popp for.
Junior Austin Popp ran for a pair of touchdowns and returned an interception for a score while senior Jesse Popp hauled in a touchdown pass as the visiting Royals churned out a 34-12 win to improve to 2-0 on the year.
Royalton started the game in a flash, scoring twice in the opening four minutes on a 5-yard run by Austin Popp and 46-yard scamper by junior Brady Moulzolf.
Moulzolf then found Jesse Popp on a 13-yard touchdown pass, giving the Royals a 22-0 edge it would carry into halftime.
UNC cut into that lead with a touchdown run coming out of the break to make it 22-6, then quickly got the ball back.
But Austin Popp returned an interception 82 yards for a score to restore a comfortable cushion, then sealed the win with a 51-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
“We still have some things to work on,” Morford said. “I think that if anyone were to say that they are sitting good right now I think they would be bending the truth a bit. There are always things to improve on and we need to take care of the football better and take advantage when situations arise.”
“I love our team speed,” he said. “We have had some fast players in the past, but I cannot remember having a team with as much team speed, especially on the defensive side of the ball. They are very exciting to watch. I really do not see any one person really rising to the top, but good football teams win and lose games in the front lines and our offensive and defensive lines have been really taking care of the line of scrimmage for us. Those guys cannot be complimented enough.”
Royalton’s quick start put them in the “Receiving Votes” portion of Wednesday’s first state poll in Class A, along with Upsala-Swanville Area.
“We knew going into this season that we would have a lot of returning players with veteran leadership and that leadership is really paying off,” Royalton head coach Jamie Morford said. “We have had a couple situations where a younger team may not be as resilient, but this team plays with confidence in themselves and each other and it shows.
“They really understand what it means to put that Royalton uniform on and the tradition it stands for,” he said.