By Jake Calhoun
Journal Sports Writer
SLEEPY EYE - The third time feels just as sweet for Sleepy Eye St. Mary's.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s running back David Surprenant gets past New Ulm Cathedral defensive back Jacob Gangelhoff (3) on his way to the end zone during the Knights’ win in the Section 2A Championship game Friday in Sleepy Eye.
For more photos of this event go to cu.nujournal.com
Top-seeded St. Mary's defeated No. 2-seeded New Ulm Cathedral 41-26 on Friday night to win the Section 2A title for the third-straight year and advance to the state tournament.
"We just needed to make a few plays," said Cathedral coach Denny Lux. "St. Mary's made big plays when they had to and we didn't. There were some critical plays that we needed to come out on and we didn't."
The Greyhounds (7-4) had their hands full with St. Mary's quarterback Brandon Helget, who accumulated 217 total yards in maestroing the offense while keeping Cathedral's offense on the sideline.
Helget passed for 69 yards on 5-of-11 passing and also rushed for a game-high 148 yards on 12 carries and one touchdown.
"The dual-threat quarterback: That's what our whole offense is based out of is having a guy like him and he's done a great job with it," said St. Mary's coach Brent Kucera. "He's really grown into his position."
Immediately following a 1-yard touchdown run by Cathedral quarterback Collin Helget to pull to 28-20, Brandon Helget ultimately sealed the game for St. Mary's (11-0) with a 50-yard touchdown run on the read option to make it 34-20 just two plays later. During that play, the Cathedral defense bit on the running back, leaving Helget with nothing but green grass on his way to pay dirt.
"Brandon, once again, he played really well," Lux said. "He's filled the shoes of [former SESM quarterback Jordan] Anderson very well for St. Mary's."
Even though Helget kept St. Mary's on track throughout the game, it was Kodan Kosak who provided the spark with his 81-yard opening kickoff return for a touchdown.
"That started the momentum," Helget said of Kosak's opening return. "We started there and we never looked back."
David Surprenant also had a big night offensively for the Knights, netting 125 rushing yards on 18 carries for two touchdowns. His touchdown runs were of 29 yards in the second quarter and 1 yard for the only score in the third.
Collin Helget was no slouch at quarterback for Cathedral, going 12-of-21 passing for 143 yards and two touchdowns - both of which went to Tyler Franta in the second and fourth quarters.
The second connection from Collin Helget to Franta came on a pass-heavy final drive in which Helget went 4-of-6 for 54 yards and the strike to the end zone.
But it was too little too late for the Greyhounds, who only lose Nate Palmer, Barrett Carlson, Russell Hoffman and Josh Dove next season to graduation.
"I'm real pleased with the seniors that we had on the field," Lux said. "They had true leadership this year and they brought our team together."
St. Mary's will open its state tournament stand against Section 4A's Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity at 3 p.m. next Saturday at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall. The winner will advance to the semifinals at the Metrodome.
NUC 0 14 0 12 - 26
SESM 6 16 6 13 - 41
S - Kosak 81-yard kickoff return for TD (Surprenant PAT good), 11:47
S - Heiderscheidt 3-yard TD run (Surprenant run good), 4:18
C - Skillings 1-yard TD run (C. Helget to Franta pass good), 11:09
C - C. Helget to Franta 29-yard TD pass (C. Helget pass no good), 4:22
S - Surprenant 29-yard TD run (Surprenant run good), 2:58
S - Surprenant 1-yard TD run (Wait run no good), 2:55
C - C. Helget 1-yard TD run (C. Helget pass intercepted), 6:36
S - B. Helget 50-yard TD run (Surprenant run no good), 6:20
S - Heiderscheidt 25-yard TD run (Surprenant PAT good), 1:46
C - C. Helget to Franta 20-yard TD pass (Gangelhoff run no good), 0:12