SLEEPY EYE - Chew up the ground and spit out a win.
That's what the 4-4 Wabasso Rabbits did Wednesday night as they rushed for 252 yards and snagged three turnovers in a dominating 36-14 win over the 1-7 Sleepy Eye Indians.
"Ball control is our style right now," Wabasso coach Joe Kemp said. "We got a good start with an early lead. It was nice to get the turnovers, I think going into the game we were minus eight in that category."
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Wabasso’s Tanner Rohlik (23) tackles Sleepy Eye’s John Mangen (56) during the first quarter Friday at Sleepy Eye High School.
The main man for the Rabbits was senior running back Blake Altermatt, who rushed for 97 yards on 19 carries.
"When Altermatt goes well, so do we," Kemp said.
The Rabbits took advantage of an early Indians mistake when they pounced on the ball in the end zone for a two-point safety after a snap sailed over the head of the Sleepy Eye punter.
After a short Sleepy Eye kickoff, the Indians were flagged for a facemask penalty, moving the ball to the Sleepy Eye 28. Wabasso took just seven plays to score its first touchdown, a 14-yard pass from Neil Eichten to Seth Guetter to make it 8-0.
On the Rabbits' next possession, they went 55 yards in seven plays, this time scoring on a T.J. Fulton reverse play that was good for a 13-yard touchdown with five seconds left in the first quarter that extended the lead to 14-0.
After Tanner Rohlik grabbed an interception for Wabasso at its own 39, Fulton raced 41 yards down the left side to the Indians 15, setting up a 15-yard stutter-step touchdown run up the middle by Rohlik that made it 20-0.
Sleepy Eye finally broke onto the scoreboard on its first possession of the second half, going 55 yards in 13 plays, the final one a four-yard blast up the middle by John Mangen that cut the lead to 20-6. Mangen then went back into the end zone for the two-point conversion and a 20-8 game.
But the Rabbits wasted no time in getting those points back. Guetter made a nice kickoff return to the Indians 42, with a personal foul penalty on Sleepy Eye putting the ball on the Sleepy Eye 27. A pass from Eichten to Caleb Salfer put the ball on the one, with Rohlik going in for the score on the next play to make it 26-8. An Eichten to Fulton pass was good for another two points, extending the lead to 28-8
Wabasso's final touchdown came with 1:48 left in the game, a three-yard plunge by Dominic Ourada, with Caleb Kemp going up the middle for two more points and a 36-8 Rabbits lead.
Indians quarterback Brandon Polesky tossed the final touchdown to Matt Schroepfer as time expired for the 36-14 final.
Besides Altermatt's 97 yards on the ground, Rohlik rushed for 71 yards, with Fulton adding 66. Polesky ran for 69 yards for the Indians, while Mangen was good for 50 yards.
Sleepy Eye will open the Section 2A playoffs on Tuesday while Wabasso begins Section 5A playoff action Tuesday night.