NEW ULM - It was the kind of game that you would have expected when two rivals meet.
Jacob Menage's two-yard touchdown run and ensuing two-point conversion pass to Zach Mickelson capped a 14 -point second half for Springfield as the Tigers overcame a 13-6 first half deficit to top New Ulm Cathedral 20-13 Friday night in Southern Minnesota Conference play at Johnson Field.
Menage ran for scores of three and two yards while Zach Wells bowled in from one yard for the third Tiger touchdown.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm Cathedral’s Jake Stadick (14) makes a catch over Springfield’s Christopher Kretsch during the first half of Springfield’s win Friday at Johnson Field in New Ulm.
Adam Schnobrich broke loose for a 67-yard touchdown run in the first quarter while Collin Helget scored on a one-yard run.
"What a great football game," said a happy Springfield coach Paul Dunn. "I thought that both teams played at a pretty high level for game one. Credit to the coaching staff at New Ulm Cathedral and to my coaches. Both teams played hard - we thought that it would be even, and it was."
Cathedral coach Denny Lux agreed with his counterpart about the caliber of the contest.
"Both teams had some new players on the field," he said. "It was a great high school football game. I was proud of our kids. We had five sophomores starting tonight - they stepped up - and I thought that we played real well. We showed our speed that we have in our backfield."
That ability to motor out of the backfield came on the Greyhounds' second play of the 2012 season when senior Schnobrich raced 67 yards for a touchdown at the 11:07 mark.
Schnobrich's extra point kick gave Cathedral a 7-0 lead.
"He (Schnobrich) has worked very hard in the off-season," Lux said. "He has the speed and the strength. The best thing for him and all of our other running backs is that now we can watch ourselves on film and learn from it."
The Greyhounds carried that lead into the second quarter before one of Cathedral's three turnovers led to a Tiger score.
Brian Thoreson, who would later add his second interception of the game to salt the game away with just two minutes to go in the game, picked off an errant Helget pass on the Tiger 27-yard line.
Menage then engineered a Tiger scoring drive. He hit Chris Kretsch for a 12-yard gain before Menage raced 56 yards down to the Greyhound five-yard line.
Two plays later, Menage rambled in from two yards out at the 10:20 mark. The PAT failed and Cathedral held a 7-6 lead.
Cathedral countered the Tigers' four-play, 73-yard scoring drive with a 13-play, 51-yard drive that ended when Collin Helget scored from a yard out.
Schnobrich and Austin Cooper did the work on the ground, with Helget hooking up with Jake Stadick for a 31-yard gain.
Helget's score came with 4:40 left in the first half.
Unfortunately for Cathedral, it was the last time they would see the end zone in the game.
"We were more disciplined in the second half, especially with our linebackers," Dunn said. "We were not disciplined in the first half. Number 25 (Adam Schnobrich) is a special runner. When he is in space he is tough to bring down. We did a better job of making him bounce it into other people and not giving him that breakaway."
Springfield began its comeback late in the third quarter when Zach Wells capped a seven-play, 67-yard drive with a one-yard run at the 2:53 mark of the third quarter. While Wells did the bulk of the work in the drive, Menage again proved to be a thorn in the side of the Greyhounds with a 35-yard run.
"We went back to old fashion Tiger football," Dunn said. "He is a good decision-maker - he is a student of the game and he is going to be fine."
The Tigers then finished their comeback midway through the final quarter on a Menage two-yard run at the 6:34 mark.
Lux said that the three turnovers hurt, but so did some offensive penalties.
"The penalties slowed down some drives when we were getting some momentum," Lux said.
Lux also felt that his team did a good job with the Tiger veer offense.
"We have new players on the edges," Lux said. "I am happy with our effort. I thought that the maturity of our players throughout the game was excellent. We are going to be a good football team."
Springfield will play at Red Rock Central on Friday and Cathedral will play at Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart on Friday.