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home : sports : sports
January 18, 2022

10/29/2021 2:13:00 PM
Bluhm's huge night helps CL upset St. Anthony
by JEFF NORTON


Chisago Lakes weathered a furious fourth quarter comeback from St. Anthony Village and an injury to their starting quarterback Nick Wasko to upset the Huskies 26-19 in the first round of the Section 4AAAA playoffs on Tuesday, October 26.

It was a tale of two halves as far as turnovers go, and that’s what caused so much success for Chisago Lakes in the first half and caused them such a headache in the second half.

St. Anthony Village fumbled on their very first drive and Chisago Lakes capitalized on it by moving down the field quickly to get into scoring position. At the 16 yard line, the ‘Cats faced a fourth and six and despite the windy conditions, took to the air. Wasko found junior Nate Bluhm in the back of the end zone completely uncovered and although the wind nearly carried the ball out of the back of the endzone Bluhm planted his feet just in the field of play and made a great toe tapping catch for the first touchdown of the game.

Brycen Morley’s extra point was good and sixth-seeded CL was up 7-0 on the third-seeded Huskies.

On the following drive, St. Anthony put together their most complete drive of the night, holding the ball for 15 plays. They mixed the rush and the pass together well, keeping the Wildcat defense, who was sans some important players due to COVID issues, off balance. Eventually, quarterback Caden Rodkewich found Joe Randle on a comeback route near the goal line and Randle punched it in for STA’s first score of the night. The extra point was good and the game was tied at 7.

Disaster struck for the Wildcats as they fumbled the ball on the second play of their next drive and the Huskies took over in plus territory. They moved the ball inside of the 10 yard line but decided to pass the ball on third and two from the seven yard line. Bluhm and Braeden Carr bursted through the left side of the line and sacked the quarterback to send St. Anthony into a fourth and 10 spot. They followed with an incomplete pass and the Wildcat defense held their ground and kept the game tied.

Chisago Lakes didn’t get the ball moving early in their ensuing drive, facing a third and 10 from their own 16, but a nice 36 yard completion from Wasko to 87 got them out of the hole and near midfield. Wasko followed with a nice weaving run that brought the Wildcats inside the redzone of St. Anthony. A few plays later, CL’s Ashton Pearson punched it in for a score and led 13-7. A missed extra point left the game at that mark.

St. Anthony took only two plays to fumble on their next possession, putting Chisago Lakes right back in business on offense from STA’s 35 yard line. It didn’t take long from them to cash in on a Wasko touchdown run, and all of a sudden the ‘Cats had a two score lead at 19-7 when the two point conversion failed with just two minutes left in the half.
 Rodkewich quickly led St. Anthony down the field in their two minute drill, but after two long completions brough the Huskies down to CL’s 30 yard line in under a minute, St. Anthony put the ball on the ground again, and CL recovered, giving them a chance to potentially score more points before the halftime buzzer.

Wasko nailed junior Nate Bluhm for a ridiculous 40 yard catch down the middle on the first play of the drive. Bluhm had a defender draped all over him and still made a beautiful over the shoulder catch in St. Anthony territory. A couple of runs got CL into a field goal attempt, but Morley’s attempt came up just a yard short of the crossbar and kept the game at 19-7 at halftime.

Bluhm’s catch at the end of the half was just an opening act for his main event in the second half when CL started with the ball. The junior receiver brought down a nice 35 yard catch to open the drive and then snuck out of the formation completely uncovered on the next play and brought in a 30 yard touchdown pass from Bluhm.

Within a stretch of about one minute of game time, Bluhm had put three catches for 105 yards and a touchdown on the scoresheet. He also had a handful of catches earlier in the game as the ‘Cats really focused on the aerial attack when they saw how leaky St. Anthony’s pass defense was.

With a comfortable 26-7 lead, it looked like it would be quick night for the ‘Cats, but one of the worst possible outcomes came from the next drive. Despite getting a stop, Wasko was hurt with a sprained ankle on defense, taking him out for the game.

With Tyler Drury coming in cold from the bench, the passing attack stopped and the ‘Cats went to their more traditional rushing game. And although they moved the ball well, untimely fumbles and penalties killed a couple of their third quarter drives.

The game was still 26-7 in as the game headed into the fourth quarter, but St. Anthony had the ball inside CL’s five. On the first play of the fourth, STA scored. They missed the extra point and the game was 26-13, giving the Huskies some life.

On the very first play of Chisago Lakes’ next drive, they put the ball on the ground again, and St. Anthony was their for the recovery. The turnover deflated the CL sideline and energized the St. Anthony home crowd.

They parlayed that energy into another quick score and all of a sudden the Huskies were down only 26-19 with over nine minutes left still.

The CL offense needed a drive, and they did get it, despite a disappointing end to it. Drury broke off a 50 yard run just a few plays into the drive, bringing the momentum back to the ‘Cats. Eventually, Chisago Lakes faced a third and goal from the one yard line. Pearson was stuffed on the third down attempt, setting up a fourth and goal from the one. Drury had a lane to score on a keeper, but as he turned the corner, his feet slipped out from underneath him, putting him down at the one and turning the ball over and leaving the lead at one score.

Rodkewich led St. Anthony down the field on the Huskies’ last drive. They were moving the ball well despite Chisago Lakes dropping two fairly easy interceptions. STA got all the way down to the 26 yard line and had a receiver wide open in the corner of the endzone for an easy touchdown on third down, but an overthrow caused them to miss out. On fourth down, Randle dropped a would-be first down for STA, and it turned them over on downs.

The Huskies did have a chance to make one more play, as the got CL into a third down and six with just over a minute left and a timeout. A stop would give them the ball with some time to work, but Drury came through in the clutch, rushing for 27 yards on the third down and sealing the win for CL.

Bluhm’s outstanding receiving talents were on display in this game. He accounted for at least 135 yards receiving (full stats weren’t available at the time the Press went to print) and two touchdowns. Wasko had a prolific night passing and rushing, and his health will be a big key for the ‘Cats in their second round match up.

The win sent the ‘Cats on to the section semifinals, where they’ll play second-seeded Columbia Heights, who beat seventh-seeded Minneapolis Edison 36-0 in their opening game. The contest is on Saturday, October 30 at Heights. Game time is 1 p.m.



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