MINNEAPOLIS - New Ulm Cathedral head football coach Denny Lux had an interesting dilemma on his hands.
Right after his team scored a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to trail by one point against Minneota, Lux could have went with the safe option and kick the extra point attempt that would've tied the game and possibly forced an overtime with the Vikings.
But Lux decided to live dangerously and go for two and go for the win.
Cathedral plays at State Tournament
Cathedral quarterback Kevin Larson managed to escape danger on the play and rolled to his right. There, he found a wide open Nick Simon in the end zone for the go-ahead score. The 34-33 lead was Cathedral's only lead of the game, and the Greyhounds managed to get it when it mattered the most.
The defense held strong on the next Minneota possession, and the Greyhounds managed to sneak into the Class A State Championship at 1 p.m. Friday against Barnesville.
The risk ended up being the reward for the Greyhounds (12-1), who are playing in their second state-championship game in five years. But what's more amazing is that the two-point conversion play was inserted into the team's practice just one day before, so it's not like the Greyhounds had practiced it over and over.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm Cathedral’s Jeremy Kokesch (50) and Ben Beranek (55) celebrate after the Greyhounds defeated Minneota in the second round of the Class A State Tournament Saturday in Minneapolis.
For more photos of this event, go to cu.nujournal.com
"Coach asked me and I asked him what we should do," Larson said. "We put that play in [Friday] for a situation just like that and it worked out well for us."
Lux said the Greyhounds and Vikings were expecting a shootout.
"All week long we said it was going to be a four-quarter game, but we did want to try to wear them out and we did want to try to just get bodies on them in the first half," Lux said. "We felt that when we went to the no-huddle in the second half, we kind of wore them down a little bit and we were able to get some quick scores."
The Vikings scored the only touchdown of the first quarter after Beau Buysse scored on a 10-yard run.
They added to that lead in the second quarter after Jacob Cheadle broke free and scored on a 70-yard touchdown run that made it 14-0 after the PAT.
The Greyhounds may have been trailing at that point early in the second quarter, but they responded with an eight-play, 72-yard scoring drive that was capped on a four-yard run by Ted Skillings to cut the Minneota lead in half.
The Vikings upped the lead to 20-7 before the Greyhounds scored on an Aaron Pfaff 4-yard run with 2:54 left in the half to make it 20-14 at the break.
The Greyhounds did manage to tie the game in the third quarter on a 33-yard touchdown pass from Larson to Colin Wendinger.
But the Vikings got a 53-yard touchdown from Cheadle and a 14-yard touchdown pass from Buysse to Adam Josephson to take a 33-20 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Cheadle finished the game with 161 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
"We felt we had a good game plan coming in to stop him, but he is just a very good runner," Lux said. "They had good blocking on the perimeter. These are two very good teams and the score is probably where it should've been. Both teams have been scoring enough points this year that you would think it would be a high-scoring game."
The Greyhounds haven't had a lot of games this season in which they were trailing late in the game. On Saturday, they found themselves in that position.
But the offense rallied and the defense picked up as the Greyhounds pitched a shutout in the fourth quarter.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't concerned," Larson said. "Our defense kept trying and working hard and doing what we did in practice all week and they shut them down at the end there."
The Greyhounds used the no-huddle in the fourth quarter to their advantage. They were able to score on Pfaff's second rushing touchdown of the game, another four-yard run, and that cut the lead to 33-26 on the missed PAT.
That set up the comeback late. With 3:43 left, Larson found Nosbush for a 23-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 33-32.
That set up the decision by Lux.
"Obviously it's a tough call, we've got a good kicker but he has kind of struggled of late," Lux said. "In the back of my mind, I was thinking, 'you know what, let's put it in 11 guys' hands instead of one.'"
On the play, Larson scrambled to find just enough room to make the throw. Like all game, Larson made the big play when he needed to and the Greyhounds were able to advance.
"He just about was going down and there was bodies around him, but he's a point guard and a shortstop on the baseball team and it just shows," Lux said. "It just shows that he's a playmaker."
Larson finished the game going 14-for-18 with 222 yards passing and two touchdowns. Eric Hauser rushed for 64 yards on 12 carries and Pfaff had 17 carries for 37 yards and two scores. Ted Skillings had one carry for four yards and a touchdown and Nick Simon had seven carries for 33 yards.
Pfaff was the leading receiver, hauling in five passes for 103 yards. Nosbush had 57 yards receiving and a touchdown and Brandon Berg had 52 yards receiving. Wendinger had one catch for a 33-yard touchdown.
Defensively, Berg had eight tackles and Dan Blackstad had six tackles. Hauser and Aaron Wenninger each had an interception.
Buysse threw for 170 yards and a touchdown and Brandon Anderson rushed for 106 yards on 26 carries. Josephson led the receivers with 70 yards and a touchdown and he also had seven tackles.
Now the Greyhounds battle Barnesville on Friday for a chance to win a state championship.
"It's unbelievable," Larson said. "It's the greatest feeling in the world right now."