Polars freeze Bucs out of playoffs
The Blue Earth Area Buccaneers had held the lead over the undefeated, No. 3-ranked Minneapolis North Polars for over 45 minutes of their state quarterfinal contest, which was played in Kasson on Nov. 9. But the Polars took the lead with 2:50 to go in the game and then sealed the victory with an interception as the Bucs were driving for the go-ahead score. The final score was Minneapolis North 26, BEA 20.
The loss ended the Bucs’ season and gave them a record of nine wins and three losses for the year.
“The guys gave a very good effort,” coach Randy Kuechenmeister said. “I am very proud of how we played.”
It is the Polars’ third straight trip to the Class AA State Tournament after winning the Class A championship in 2016.
Going into the game the Bucs were well aware of the Polars quick-strike capability. One way to counteract a potent offense is by keeping the ball out of your opponents hands. BEA did a good job of this by holding on to the ball for almost twice as long as Minneapolis North.
The Bucs received the opening kickoff and pieced together an 11-play drive which covered 55 yards.
BEA ran the ball nine times and passed twice during the drive which ended with?Koby Nagel plowing across the goal line from one yard out. Kean Hicks kicked the extra point and the Bucs were up 7-0 with 6:35 left in the first quarter.
Minneapolis North failed to gain any yards on their first possession and punted the ball back to BEA.
The Bucs picked up a first down before the Polars came up with an interception to get the ball back on their 34-yard line.
This time Minneapolis North managed one first down before punting the ball back to BEA.
Starting the second quarter on their own 24-yard line, Nagel gained six yards on the ground and then caught a pass for five yards for a first down. Nagel then had back-to-back runs of 13 and eight yards to advance the ball to the BEA 48-yard line.
Runs by Cameron Anderson and Nagel sandwiched around a Caelan Sanders pass reception gave the Bucs a first and 10 to go from the Polars’ 29-yard line.
Nagel ran for three yards and then Storbeck hit Sanders running down the BEA sideline for a 26-yard touchdown pass with 7:36 remaining in the first half. Hicks kicked the ball through the uprights and the Bucs had taken a 14-0 lead.
Minneapolis North began their next drive on their 24-yard line. The Polars overcame offensive pass interference and personal foul penalties to keep their drive alive. They scored on a 40-yard pass play with 2:39 remaining until the half but failed to convert their two-point attempt. The Bucs lead now stood at 14-6. There was no more scoring in the first half.
The Polars received the kick to start the second half but their drive stalled at the 50-yard line and they punted the ball to the Bucs.
BEA took over on their 12-yard line with 8:30 remaining in the third quarter.
Nagel ran for one yard and then Storbeck connected with Anderson for a pass completion good for 17 yards out to the 30-yard line.
Nagel found some room and ran for 11 yards and another first down. The Polars sacked Storbeck on the following play to set up a second down and 15 to go. Nagel covered the needed yardage with a 16-yard pass reception to move the Bucs into Polars territory at the 48.
Nagel and the BEA blockers did the rest. The senior running back had runs of 11 and five yards to advance the ball to the Minneapolis North 32-yard line. On the next play, Nagel took the hand off, found a seam, and scampered straight up the middle for a 32-yard touchdown run. The extra point kick failed but BEA held a 20-6 lead with 4:41 to go in the third quarter.
The Bucs kicked off and stopped the Polars again and forced them to punt. The kick pinned BEA deep in their own territory at the eight-yard line. On the second play from scrimmage the Polars stripped the ball from Storbeck and recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. The extra point failed and BEA’s lead was now 20-12 with 1:32 left in the third quarter.
Minneapolis North would add two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
BEA had two more chances on offense to rally after the Polars had taken the lead, but the Bucs turned the ball over on downs and then lost the ball on an interception.
Minneapolis North had 339 total yards to BEA’s 290. The Bucs had 20 first downs while the Polars had 16.
Storbeck finished the game completing 15 of 21 passes for 158 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
Nagel rushed for 118 yards on 31 carries and two touchdowns. He also had five receptions for 43 yards. Sanders finished with four receptions for 44 yards and one touchdown. Anderson gained 36 yards on three receptions and Austin Thielfoldt also caught three passes for a total of 35 yards.