Bucs advance to semi-final round
The No. 1-seeded Blue Earth Area Buccaneers football team opened the Section 2AA playoffs with a 34-8 win over the No 8-seeded Norwood-Young America (NYA) Raiders. The game was played on Tuesday, Oct. 22, at Wilson Field in Blue Earth.
The Bucs, who were ranked eighth in the final Class AA Associated Press Poll, were a little sluggish on offense at the beginning of the game. In fact, BEA fumbled on their fourth play from scrimmage to turn the ball over to NYA.
The Raiders offense was able to get two first downs before the Buc defense stiffened and stopped the visitors on fourth down to get the ball back for the offense.
Taking over on their own 45-yard line, the Maroon and Gold put together an eight-play drive to score a touchdown on a one-yard plunge up the middle by senior running back Koby Nagel. The extra point kick failed but with 1:46 left in the first quarter BEA held a 6-0 lead.
The Raiders combined a good return on the ensuing kickoff with a penalty against the Bucs to start their next drive in BEA territory at the 42-yard line. Three plays later NYA had advanced the ball to the 35-yard line.
Faced with a fourth down and needing three yards for a first down, the Raiders attempted a running play but the Bucs’ defense stopped the Raiders’ Bryce Homan for a two-yard loss to take possession of the ball at their own 37-yard line.
The Bucs moved the ball into Raider territory before committing their second turnover of the game, this time on an interception. However, NYA could not move the ball and punted the pigskin back to BEA with nine minutes remaining in the first half.
Starting on their own 48-yard line, quarterback Gavin Storbeck connected with Cameron Anderson for a gain of 30 yards to the Raiders’ 22-yard line. Moments later Nagel powered his way into the end zone for a one-yard touchdown run to put BEA on top 12-0 with six minutes left in the half. Once again the extra point attempt failed.
The Bucs’ final score of the first half came courtesy of the special teams. With 1:35 to go until halftime, Caelan Sanders fielded a Raiders’ punt near the Bucs’ sideline and picked up a wall of blockers as he headed toward the NYA sideline and then sprinted into the end zone for a 32-yard touchdown. Nagel then bulldozed his way into the end zone for a 2-point conversion to give BEA a 20-0 lead.
The Bucs would add two more scores in the third quarter. Zac Murphy’s interception of a Raiders’ pass set up a nine-play 65-yard scoring drive which was capped off by Sanders’ 20-yard TD run. Kean Hicks kicked the extra point to put BEA up 27-0 with 5:38 left in the third quarter.
Max Ehrich accounted for the Bucs’ final points of the evening when he covered the last six yards of a four-play 30-yard scoring drive for a touchdown with 2:39 remaining in the third quarter. The extra point kick by Hicks was good to increase BEA’s lead to 34-0.
NYA got on the board late in the game against the BEA reserves to make the final score 34-8 in favor of the Bucs.
The BEA defense held NYA to 118 yards of total offense. The Raiders averaged 2.2 yards per play on offense while the Bucs average 6.5 yards per play while totaling 330 yards of total offense.
Nagel was the leading rusher for BEA with 74 yards on 17 attempts. Ehrich rushed the ball seven times for 51 yards.
Storbeck was 6-for-8 passing for 90 yards. Anderson and Sanders each had two receptions. Anderson totaled 47 yards and Sanders had 20 yards receiving.
BEA’s next game was Saturday night, Oct. 26, when they played host to the No. 4-seeded Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton Bulldogs in the Section 2AA semifinals. The other semifinal game had the No. 2- seed Maple River Eagles hosting the Medford Tigers. The winners of those two games will meet each other on Friday, Nov. 1, in Janesville, to determine the Section 2AA champion.