By PATRICK SLACK
Just like the regular season meeting, Browerville and Royalton entered halftime tied, Oct. 26.
But in the rematch in the Section 6A semifinals, the sixth-seeded Tigers knocked off second-seeded host Royalton 16-13, earning a trip to the section championship.
The Royals got off to a strong start, scoring less than three minutes in on a 5-yard run by junior Kyle Billmeyer.
The Tigers answered back late in the first quarter, then extended the gap to 13-6 with 3:18 left before halftime.
The Royals marched back down the field quickly, though, tying the score on a 5-yard run by junior Austin Popp with only 18 seconds remaining prior to the break.
Neither team would find the end zone in the second half, with the difference coming on a 32-yard Browerville field goal midway through the third quarter.
The Royals made things interesting on their final drive, converting a 4th-and-10 to get into the Browerville red zone, but had to force an errant throw with time winding down to end the game.
Senior Cade Stang led Royalton with 185 yards rushing on 15 carries, with junior Brady Moulzolf adding 49 yards, senior Tony Gadacz picking up 46 and Popp churning out 41.
Senior Caleb Jasmer and Billmeyer each recorded two tackles for loss and sophomore Alex Patton added one stop behind the line.
Royalton had defeated Browerville 27-14 during the regular season.
The Royals finished the season with a record of 7-3 and as the Prairie Conference South runner-up. It was the third winning season in a row for Royalton.
“We are very proud of this group,” Royalton head coach Jamie Morford said. “Nineteen wins and nine losses during that time span is something to be proud of. We have seen steady growth in them as student-athletes, leaders among their peers and of course as football players.
“This is not how they envisioned their senior year going as they had high aspirations, but we talk a lot about life lessons and how football, and sports in general, translates to the real world,” he said. “This is another one of those life lessons. The way that they have pushed each other and the underclassmen to lift and get stronger, understanding the game, mental toughness and most importantly how to play the game with respect, will be our most fond memory of this group.”
Seniors on this year’s team included Stang, Jesse Popp, Nate Scofield, Matt Presler, Matt Neu, Gadacz, Jasmer and Austin Schmitt.
“It is another 10 months until we will know for sure how to replace this group.,” Morford said. “Tony, Cade, Caleb, Austin, Jesse, Matt, Nate and Matt each left their mark on the program and each are going to be tough to replace.”