In a game that featured many fantastic defensive plays, the Blue Earth Area Buccaneers muscled their way to a 29-8 victory over the Fairmont Cardinals on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 27.
The Section 3AAA Tournament victory propelled the Bucs into the Section Championship game against Tri-City United, played Friday night, Nov. 2, in Blue Earth.
The game was played after this week's deadline for the Faribault County Register and details and photos will be in the next issue.
The game against the Cardinals was actually much closer than the score indicates. The stats from the game reveal how close it actually was.
Both teams mustered nine first downs in the contest. The Bucs had 50 offensive plays, while the Cards ran 52. Both teams punted five times in the game.
Time of possession was 24:34 for the Bucs, and 23:26 for the Cards.
BEA won the battle for total yardage, with 287 to Fairmont's 185.
It was obvious from the very start of the game that the Buccaneers were there to play football.
On the first play from scrimmage, Gus Phillips dropped the Cardinal quarterback for a nine-yard loss. On the second play, Isaac Darrington made a giant leaping deflection of a pass attempt.
On the third play, Steven Plocker recovered a Cardinal quarterback fumble and the Bucs had the ball.
That eventually led to a nine-yard touchdown scamper from Buc quarterback Kysten Zierke for BEA's first score.
A kick attempt for the extra point was wide left, and BEA led 6-0 with 9:29 left in the first quarter.
The rest of the quarter featured tough defense on both sides of the ball, and the Cards were forced to punt three times, the Bucs twice.
BEA started the second period with a big pass from Zierke to Dallas Barslou to the Cards 14-yard line.
The drive stalled, however, and an attempted field goal by Felix Haseim was wide left.
The Bucs got more outstanding defense, including some incredible pass defense from Darrington and Barslou, on the Cards' next possession.
BEA took over on downs, but eventually was forced to punt. Fairmont fumbled the punt catch attempt and Barslou recovered the fumble.
BEA scored a touchdown with 1:05 left in the half. Zierke fired a 23-yard pass into the end zone where four players jumped up for the ball two Bucs and two Cards.
Darrington outjumped the other three and came down with the ball and a score for the Bucs.
Next, BEA tried some razzle-dazzle on a two-point conversion try, and had a successful pass from Carter Hanson after BEA first faked the kick and then faked a run.
The Bucs were up 14-0 at the half.
Fairmont put together a nice march down the field in the third quarter, helped by a long pass completion despite good coverage by the Bucs.
They scored on a 23 yard pass again, despite good coverage by BEA. The Cardinals also successfully passed for the two point conversion.
With 4:50 left in the third period, the game had tightened up with the score 14-8.
After holding the Cards and forcing another punt, the Bucs appeared to score a touchdown on a huge pass play from Zierke to Darrington, but it was called back on a holding penalty against BEA.
It was the Bucs only penalty of the afternoon.
Leading by just six as the game entered the fourth quarter, BEA built on the slim lead with a big 55-yard touchdown pass from Zierke to David Franta who caught the ball in mid-stride and raced into the end zone.
The same two hooked up for another pass for the two point conversion, and the Bucs were up 22-8 with 10:27 left in the game.
Zierke stopped a Cardinal drive with an interception at the 37-yard line.
Then, the Buc quarterback hit Hanson on a pass to the two-yard line, before carrying the ball in for the final score of the game.
This time Haseim's kick was perfect and the Bucs made the score 29-8 with 7:48 left.
"This was a very physical game," Coach Randy Kuechenmeister said afterwards. "I am proud of the kids. It was a great win for these players."
Kuechenmeister says they put in a couple of plays they had not used before, and they were effective.
"This was an outstanding defensive effort for us," he adds. "When we were up just 14-8 we didn't let up and got up by two more scores."
Zierke led the rushing for BEA with 68 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns. Hanson had 24 yards on six tries. Darrington and Phillips had seven yards each.
BEA had a total of 105 yards on the ground. Fairmont had 43 yards despite one player gaining 58.
Three Cardinal players combined for a minus 24 yards. Two Buccaneers also had negative yardage in the defensive battle.
Zierke was 7 of 14 for 182 yards and two touchdowns. Fairmont was 15 of 27 for 142 yards.
Barslou had two catches for 59 yards, Darrington two for 36, Hanson two for 32 and Franta one for 55.
On defense, Franta led the team with 10 tackles, Brandyn Olsen had nine, Darrington and Plocker had seven each and Hanson and Phillips six apiece.