NEW ULM - There are four quarters in a football game, but one quarter determined the fate of this one.
With the game deadlocked at 14 at halftime, Minnesota Valley Lutheran proceeded to turn the ball over on its next five possessions. Wabasso made MVL pay for giving up the short field by delivering three straight touchdowns leading the Rabbits to 33-14 victory at Johnson Field.
Early on it was MVL cashing in on a Wabasso miscue. The Rabbits failed a fourth down attempt in their own territory, and one play later MVL's DeAndre Parker found Grant Wilson down the sideline for a 25 yard score.
Wabasso quickly answered the call by marching six plays and 65 yards for a touchdown. It was Caleb Salfer who hauled in the eight yard touchdown from quarterback Neil Eichten, and also Salfer who had a 32 yard reception earlier on the drive.
The teams traded touchdowns in the second quarter also.
On fourth down at the Rabbits 24 yard line, Parker hit Jacob Hoffman right on the money down the seam for a touchdown.
"Early on they (Wabasso) were controlling the line of scrimmage so we had some nice plays called getting the ball to Jacob Hoffman," said MVL coach Jim Buboltz.
Wabasso answered right before half with some physical play. Tanner Bock capped the drive with a bruising 15 yard run, ushering several Chargers to the ground with powerful stiff arms.
The third quarter was a disaster for MVL and a gift for Wabasso. On the third play of the half, Parker was intercepted by Dirk Pistulka on an overthrown ball. Bock would punch in from two yards out a few plays later.
The next series saw Parker again picked off. This time it was Josh Altermatt hauling in a deflected pass. It was a few plays later when TJ Fulton appeared to fumble but recover the ball in the end zone for a touchdown.
MVL promptly fumbled the next series, leading to a Caleb Kemp touchdown run.
By the time the barrage of scoring had ended, it was 33-14 Wabasso.
"Turnovers," said Buboltz when talking about the third quarter. "They changed some things defensively, but to me it looked like we just ran out of gas."
MVL managed little offense in the second half. This was in part due to the switching of defense by Wabasso.
"They exploited us down the field (in the first half)," said Wabasso coach Joe Kemp. "The second half we switched, our two tackles controlled the edge and the linebackers shot the gaps."
Later in the game, Bock added an interception, while Pistulka picked off his second ball of the game.
Offensively, Wabasso continued to pound the ball, not attempting one pass in the second half.
"MVL drops a lot of guys back in coverage so we knew that wouldn't be the place to attack," said Kemp. "We're big up front and physical and got off the ball a lot better in the second half."
Bock finished with 21 carries for 135 yards and two scores.
"Tanner runs hard, he had some great stiff arms in the open field," said Kemp. "He might not get 80 but he'll get five or six and keep his feet moving."
Parker finished with 185 yards passing, a pair of touchdowns and four interceptions. Hoffman collected four passes for 120 yards and a score.
Wabasso improves to 2-0 and will travel to Springfield on Friday night. MVL drops to 0-2 and will travel to Martin County West on Friday.