Section 2AA Champs!
Those under-dog, giant-slaying, unstoppable Blue Earth Area Buccaneers were at it once again last Saturday night, Oct. 24, in Mapleton.
After having defeated the No. 4 and No. 1 seed teams in the Section 2AA Football Tournament, the Bucs were ready to face the No. 2 seed Maple River Eagles for the Section Championship.
The game, which not only came down to the last seconds, but was decided long after the clock had expired, had BEA defeating Maple River 17-10 in a heart-pounding, exciting and somewhat controversial finish.
The win propelled the Buccaneers to the State Football Tournament for the fourth time in five years.
They were now set to take on the Caledonia Warriors on Friday night, Oct. 30, at 8 p.m. at the field at Rochester Community and Technical College in the first round of the State Tourney.
The game was played after the deadline for this week’s Faribault County Register and details and photos will be included in the next edition of the Register.
Results will also be posted both on the Register’s website and Facebook page.
Once again the Bucs are considered underdogs with their 7-4 record, going up against the Warriors unblemished 11-0 season.
If the Buccaneers win, the next game, the State quarterfinals, would be played on Saturday, Nov. 7 at 1 p.m. at Mounds View High School against either Minnewaska Area (9-1) or Ottertail Central (10-0).
The State Class AA Championship game is slated for Nov. 13, at 1 p.m. at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
The game at Mapleton proved to be the slug fest everyone thought it would be. But while the teams battled hard on the field, their defenses kept the opposing team out of the endzone, at least for the most part.
The score at half time was just a 3-3 tie with each team kicking a field goal.
But in the second half BEA finally found the endzone, and on the ensuing kickoff took a fumble away from the Eagles and scored a second time, suddenly up 17-3.
But the Eagles came back for one touchdown to make it 17-10, then looked to score again as the final minute ticked off the clock.
Their pass into the endzone was batted away by the Buc defense.
The game started with both teams forced to punt on their first possessions.
But, Maple River then marched down the field and eventually set up with a first and goal from the eight-yard line.
However, the Buccaneer defense stopped them after that and the Eagles had to settle for a 14-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead.
The Buccaneers responded by marching down the field on their next possession but stalled out at the seven-yard line.
Fabien Riegelsberger’s seven-yard field goal split the uprights perfectly, and the game was tied 3-3 with just over 10 minutes left in the half.
Both teams were once again forced to punt and the Bucs and Eagles went into their half time huddles all tied up.
It was the maroon and gold that struck paydirt first in the second half. And it didn’t take them long.
After receiving the second half kickoff the Bucs started at their own 24-yard line.
Bailey Olson connected with Kaylan Legred for a 23 yard completion. Another nine-yard pass to Legred set the Bucs up on the Eagles 40. Then Olson hit Tyler Hannaman in stride with a perfect throw and a 40-yard touchdown.
The extra point by Riegelsberger was good and, with 9:42 still left in the third quarter, BEA had a 10-3 lead.
Just 12 seconds later, the Buccaneers would score another TD.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Eagles coughed up the football after Camden Bowers knocked it out of the kick returner’s hands.
Buccaneer Zach Buseman plucked the fumbled ball out of the air and raced 21 yards untouched into the endzone for another Buccaneer score.
The kick was once again perfect and the Bucs had a 17-3 lead with 9:30 still left in the third quarter.
The Eagles turned the ball over on downs when they went for it on a fourth and four situation. The Bucs went three and out and punted.
Then Maple River went on another march down the field and fired a pass attempt into the endzone which was intercepted by the Bucs and the ball was placed at the 20-yard line as the quarter came to a close.
The Bucs had to punt again, and the Eagles failed on another fourth down try. Then BEA punted one more time.
The Eagles next possession ended in a touchdown when they got an eight-yard touchdown pass after having marched down the field.
The kick was good and with 4:07 left in the game, the score was 17-10 in favor of the visiting Buccaneers.
The Bucs went for it on a fourth and seven and made it to prolong their drive. But they next tried for a first down on a fourth and one and failed to get it.
The Eagles took over with 1:17 left in the game.
They went down field with help from a penalty and some clock management with completed passes to the sidelines.
They were at the Bucs 48-yard line with 54 seconds left. They made it to the 34-yard line with 42 seconds on the clock. Down to the 26 with 34 seconds, to the 20 with 28 seconds.
After two incomplete passes the clock read 15.7 seconds and the Eagles made it to the 15-yard line with a pass completion.
While the Buccaneer fans thought the clock should have continued to run, it mysteriously stopped at 7.9 seconds.
When it started up again, the Eagles had time to line up for one last play, and hiked the ball just as the clock hit 1 second.
The quarterback raced to the left as he was chased by the Buccaneer defenders and managed a pass to the left side of the endzone. But, two Buc defenders broke up the pass at the last second.
Unknown is whether the Eagles would have gone for one extra point to tie, or two to win.
The Bucs had won yet another thriller and were advancing on to the big dance.
And as has happened during the post season, BEA won the game but not the battle of the stats sheet.
The Eagles had 278 total yards of offense while the Bucs were at 196. Maple River had run 61 plays to BEA’s 45 and had 18 first downs to the Bucs’ 10.
Bailey Olson was 9-13 passing for 130 yards. His favorite receiver was Hannaman who caught four passes for 93 yards and a touchdown. Legred had three receptions for 32 yards and Brandon Olson one for 15.
The Bucs gained 66 yards on the ground. Brandon Olson was the leading ball carrier with 44 yards on 14 carries. Bailey Olson and Bowers each had 11 yards, on seven and four attempts respectively.
The Eagles were 22 of 42 passing for 170 yards. They had seven different players catch at least one pass.
Maple River also gained 108 yards on the ground on 26 attempts.
“This was a fun high school football game big plays and excitement to the end,” says Buc head coach Randy Kuechenmeister. “This team has had a way of making plays at crucial times throughout the playoffs. It was a great win for the kids and I am proud of them.”