USC falls to Blooming Prairie
Gusty winds, blowing snow and temperatures in the high teens greeted the United South Central and Blooming Prairie football teams as they took the field in a Class A State Tournament quarterfinal game.
The game, played in New Ulm on Nov. 10, was won by the Awesome Blossoms of Blooming Prairie by a final score of 42-0.
The Blossoms were able to march 32 yards on their first drive before the Rebel defense stiffened to force a punt.
USC struggled to move the ball also. They gained eight yards before punting the ball back to Blooming Prairie.
The Rebels also suffered an injury to one of their key players early in the game.
“Zach Niebuhr got hurt on the third offensive play of the game. He took a helmet to the hip,” explained Rebels’ head coach Brandon Neseth. “He showed a lot of courage trying to gut it out and we attempted to use him as a decoy a bit, but I think Blooming Prairie figured that out pretty quick. A lot of our offense and defense was predicated on featuring Zach, so that hurt a lot.”
Both teams continued to find the going difficult. The Blossoms punted and turned the ball over on downs on their subsequent drives. Meanwhile, the Rebels recorded only one first down on their next two drives before being forced to punt the ball away.
Following a scoreless first quarter the Blossoms scored on their fourth drive of the game.
Taking over on their own 20-yard line after a USC punt, it took just one play for the Blossoms to take the lead.
Quarterback Kaden Thomas hit receiver Gabe Hagen at the 41-yard line. Hagen burst into the open field covering the final 59 yards for the touchdown. The PAT was good to give the Blossoms a 7-0 lead.
The offensive woes continued for the Rebels and they began to lose the battle for good field position.
The Blossoms second score came on a drive that started at the Rebel 42-yard line. It took the Blossoms seven plays to cover the 42 yards and take a 14-0 lead.
Blooming Prairie went 45 yards on one play for their final score of the fist half and took a 21-0 lead in to the intermission.
USC started the second half looking to get on the scoreboard and cut the deficit to two scores.
A 45-yard pass from quarterback Isaac Meyer to receiver Colby Klocek moved the ball into Blooming Prairie territory at the 30-yard line.
An interception two plays later turned the ball back over to the Blossoms.
Blooming Prairie took advantage of the USC miscue scoring on a four-play 52-yard drive to push their lead to 28-0.
The Blossoms would add two more fourth quarter touchdowns to close out the game and move on to the state semifinals.
“I give Blooming Prairie a lot of credit, they were a very well coached and skilled team,” remarked coach Neseth.
The Rebels ended their season with a 10-1 record.
Jacob Stevermer led the team in tackles through the first 10 games with 114 tackles followed by Zach Niebuhr with 68 tackles. Gavin Sonnek recorded 52 tackles along with seven quarterback sacks. Brevan Linder also added seven sacks.
Mark Bushlack was the team leader in interceptions with six while Colby Klocek picked off three opponent’s passes.
Leading rusher for the Rebels was Zach Niebuhr. Niebuhr rushed for 1,640 yards on 261 carries and scored 27 touchdowns during the year. Isaac Meyer rushed the ball 79 times gaining 498 yards and crossing the goal line six times.
Meyer led the team in passing, completing 66 passes in 125 attempts for 1,024 yards. He also threw for seven touchdowns.
Klocek caught 34 passes for 505 yards and six scores. Roel Perales caught 11 passes for 230 yards and A.J. Kloos hauled in nine passes for 174 yards.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with how the season went,” commented coach Neseth. “The boys put in a lot of work in the off-season and it showed with the best season USC has ever had. We had the highest scoring team, the lowest points given up (on average), and had the most wins in USC history. USC also advanced for the first time to the state tournament. The guys made a lot of positive memories that will last a lifetime and it’s a credit to them for accomplishing many of their goals for the season.”