September 6, 2007 at 10:34 a.m.
The Wildcats opened the scoring on their second possession of the game with a nine-play drive. Starting from their own 38, the Wildcats plowed down the field using the sturdy legs of Spehar, who rushed five times for 33 yards on the drive. The Wildcats also took advantage of a 15 yard roughing-the-passer penalty against the Tigers. Lien dove over from the 2 yard line for the first score of the game. The Wildcats missed the extra point, leaving the score 6-0.
Wildcat kicker Brandon Mueller blasted the ensuing kickoff into the end zone for a touchback. After scratching out one first down, the Tigers faced second-and-12 on their own 30 yard line. They stunned the Wildcat crowd with a 70-yard catch-and-run scoring play. The extra point put them up 7-6.
On their first possession of the second quarter, the Tigers took advantage of a 46 yard run. The drive stalled at the Wildcat 22, and the Tiger kicker nailed a 39 yard field goal to increase the Tiger lead to 10-6.
Lien fielded the ensuing kickoff at his own 10 yard line and took off down the right sideline. He raced 54 yards all the way to the Tiger 36. A 15 yard face masking penalty against the Tigers moved the ball down to the Tiger 21. On second-and-9 from the 20, quarterback Andy Willhite rolled left and lofted a screen to running back Brandon Mueller. Mueller cut inside of two Tigers defenders and outran them to the end zone. That put the Wildcats back in front and gave Willhite his first career touchdown pass. The Wildcats again missed the extra point, leaving them with a 12-10 lead.
Mueller put the kickoff into the end zone, forcing the Tigers to start from their own 20 with 4:10 to go in the first half. Farmington ground out one first down. On second-and-10 from the 33, senior linebacker Ryan Waddell blitzed and sacked the Tiger quarterback from the blind side for a loss of eight yards. The Tigers recovered their own fumble at the line of scrimmage on the next play, forcing them to punt. But things went awry as the snap flew high over the punter's head. He retrieved the ball at the 5 yard line and ran it out of the end zone for the safety. The Wildcats went into the halftime locker room with a 14-10 lead.
On their second possession of the third quarter, the Tigers moved the ball down the field with confidence. Lien made three tackles that saved touchdowns, or long gains. On third and 10 from the 10 yard line, Wildcat defensive pressure forced the Farmington quarterback to unload the ball quickly. The off-target pass went in the direction of a wide-open receiver in the front corner of the end zone. The receiver couldn't make what would have been a great catch, making it fourth down. The Tigers attempted a 27-yard-field goal, but the ball sailed wide left to keep the score at 14-10 Wildcats.
The Tigers forced the Wildcats into a three-and-out punt at the end of the third quarter and took over at the beginning of the fourth on their own 43. But, the Wildcat defense held firm, as well, forcing Farmington to punt from their own 46. The Tigers tried what looked to be a fake punt. The Wildcats covered the fake well. The punter decided to kick the ball while running left and ended up with just a 7 yard punt, giving the Wildcats the ball at their own 47.
On second and nine, Spehar burst up the middle for a 37 yard gain, running all the way to the Tiger 15 yard line. Two more Spehar runs made it third and six at the 11. On a counter play, Lien took the handoff, ran through a hole on the left side and broke into the end zone to put the Wildcats up 20-10. Mueller's extra point made it 21-10 Wildcats with 7:30 remaining in the game.
Farmington moved the ball quickly down the field on the next drive, highlighted by a 27-yard pass play, to give them a first down at the Wildcat 38. But, the CL defense forced a fumble on the next play, and Wildcat lineman Todd Wright recovered to snuff out the Tiger rally.
The Wildcats took nearly five minutes off the clock with their next drive. With 3:25 remaining, Brandon Mueller ran around right end for a short gain. It looked like he was headed for the sideline, but he cut upfield and was tackled, keeping the clock moving.
Farmington got the ball back at their on 20 with 1:46 to play. But, they threw four incomplete passes and the Wildcats ran out the clock to come away with an impressive 21-10 victory to open the 2007 season.
"That's as clean a first game we've played in my 11 years at Chisago Lakes," said Wildcat head coach Bill Weiss. "We didn't make the usual first-game mistakes and we capitalized on their mistakes. We protected the ball well, too. We had no turnovers and recovered three of their fumbles. Mike Gryte forced two of the fumbles. He came in both times intent on knocking the ball out of the back's hands. Plays like that are huge in any game, and were the x-factor in tonight's game.
"On offense, we took advantage of what the defense gave us," continued Weiss. "In this game, that meant we gave the ball to Spehar a lot, and he came through with a nice game. Our defensive backs did a nice job of making tackles on first contact. They made their sticks and hung on, minimizing the yards after catch. We had good all-around effort and execution from the guys this week."
Next up for the Wildcats is a trip to St. Louis Park to take on conference rival Benilde-St. Margaret's. Game time is 7 p.m. "Benilde is one of the top teams in the conference this year," said Weiss. "They made it to state last year, and opened this season by scoring 54 points against North Branch. They're a skilled team with a lot of returning starters. If we can execute, avoid turnovers and create a few turnovers of our own, we'll do all right."
1 2 3 4 T
Farmington 7 3 0 0 10
Chisago Lakes 6 8 0 7 21
CL - Lien 2 run (kick failed)
FA - Davis 70 pass from Beenken (Waltz kick)
FA - Waltz 39 field goal
CL - Mueller 20 pass from Willhite (kick failed)
CL - Safety (ball snapped over punter's head)
CL - Lien 11 run (Mueller kick)