November 1, 2018 at 2:39 p.m.
The game was played at Cambridge-Isanti High School.
The second-seeded Bluejackets will face fifth-seeded Andover tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at Cambridge-Isanti High School for the section championship. Andover upset top-seeded St. Francis 28-14 to reach the title game.
Both teams moved the ball well in this one. The Wildcats had 473 yards of total offense, while the Bluejackets piled up 577 yards.
The Bluejackets’ Gavin Ziebarth scored on a 76-yard run on the third play of the game to give the Bluejackets the early lead. The Wildcats moved the ball down the field quickly, but Cambridge stopped them on downs at the seven-yard line. The Wildcat defense forced a three and out, and a short punt gave the Wildcats great field position at the Bluejacket 35. Three plays later, on first and 10 from the 23, quarterback Austin Seifert threw a pass over the middle to Tim Gregory. Gregory caught it in stride and stepped into the end zone for a touchdown. After Reece Lawlor’s extra point, the score was tied 7-7.
The Bluejackets answered that with a 60-yard run by Ziebarth to take a 14-7 lead with four minutes left in the first quarter. Then the trouble started. After a nice kickoff return, the Wildcats started first and ten from their own 40. But they fumbled on the first play and the Bluejackets recovered at the Wildcat 41. Two plays later, Ryley Nelson burst through the middle and ran 37 yards for a touchdown to make the score 21-7. After a great return by Ryan Sandvik, the Wildcats started at the Bluejacket 43. They again moved the ball into scoring position. But on fourth and two from the six, they were stopped for a one-yard gain and the Bluejackets took over.
After a punt, the Wildcats took over in good field position at their own 40. But a few plays later, on first and ten from the Bluejacket 25, a Cambridge defender cut through the line to disrupt a pitchout. The ball bounded backward, and the Bluejackets recovered on their own 45-yard line. On the next play, the Bluejackets’ Kaden Slepica scored on a 55-yard run to run the score up to 27-7 with over 7 minutes left in the second quarter. The Wildcats went on a 14-play drive that ate up five minutes off the clock. Cole Peterson burst up the middle for an eight-yard touchdown and the Wildcats cut the lead to 27-14 at halftime. Wildcat head coach Bill Weiss said “We were getting the ball to start the second half. We felt real good that if we could go in and score on the first possession and cut the lead to six, we would be right back in it.”
Alas, it was not to be. On first and ten from their own 40 – on just the second play of the third quarter – the Wildcats again fumbled, and the Bluejackets recovered at the Wildcat 38. A few plays later, Ziebarth went over from the seven and Cambridge led 35-14. After that, the back and forth scoring began. Every time the Wildcats scored, Cambridge answered. The Wildcats scored on a six-yard run by Beau Stiller, a two-yard run by Siefert and a 24-yard pass from Siefert to Gregory. The Bluejackets answered with touchdowns on a three-yard run by Nelson, a 34-yard scamper by Slepica and a 29-yard run by Nelson.
It all added up to a 55-35 loss for the Wildcats.
Weiss said, “Turning the ball over on the first drive of the second half and letting them score proved to be too much to overcome. And defensively, we made some stops in the first half but in the second we weren’t clicking on all cylinders. Running the ball, Cole Peterson had a pretty nice day and so did Beau Stiller. Austin made some nice decisions at quarterback.”
Wildcat fullback Manny Rosario was not able to play because of an injury he suffered in last week’s win over Coon Rapids.
Weiss said, “Manny was unable to play because he was in the middle of the concussion protocol. That’s one disadvantage of the current playoff system. Playing a game on Saturday after just having played on Tuesday makes it tough to be ready to go on Saturday. And including the last regular season game, we played three games in 12 days. Because of the injury concern, I don’t know if it’s a good idea or not to play that many games in that short of a period. There have been informal discussions about that in recent years and it may gain more ground formally In football and in any other sport, we need to look at what’s best from a safety standpoint for the kids.”
Cole Peterson led the way on the ground for the Wildcats, carrying the ball 14 times for 122 yards. Beau Stiller rushed the ball nine times for 86 yards and Siefert had 21 carries for 97 yards. Siefert also completed eight of 17 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns. Ziebarth, Nelson ad Slepica all went over 100 yards for the Bluejackets. Cambridge quarterback Brody Nelson was an efficient six for none passing for 89 yards