Springfield upsets top-seeded MCC

15-14 win over Rebels sends Tigers to Class A State Football?Tournament

Springfield’s Isaac Fink picks off a pass in the first half of Saturday’s Section 3A football playoff matchup with the No. 1 seed Murray County Central at SMSU in Marshall.

MARSHALL — Down 14-8 to Murray County Central with less than 8 minutes to go and pinned deep in their own territory, the Springfield Tigers needed to not only go about 80 yards and score, but they also needed a key stop at the end of the game to earn a state tournament trip.

Check and check.

The Tigers drove the length of the field thanks to a mix of the run and passing game. That led to a 34-yard scoring pass from Decker Scheffler to senior wide receiver Jordan Kieper to tie the game at 14-14 with 5:04 left in the game. The ensuing PAT put the Tigers ahead 15-14, then the defense went to work.

There, they stopped Murray County Central quarterback Mason Woldt and running back Justin Benda from answering with a counter punch. The Tigers took over after a turnover on downs and earned their first state tournament trip since 2008 with a Section 3A victory over the Rebels at Mattke Field at Southwest Minnesota State University.

Kieper had both of Springfield’s touchdowns and 65 yards receiving. But the one he secured late in the fourth quarter was one he’ll never forget.

Staff photo by Jeremy Behnke Springfield’s Decker Scheffler takes a quarterback keeper down the field at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall in the Section 3A football finals Friday.

For Kieper and the Tigers, there was never any doubt whether or not they’d come out on top.

“We knew could do it, we planned for this all week and the coaching staff was with us through it all, and we were ready for that situation,” Kieper said. “That’s just me and my quarterback [Scheffler], we were on the same page together and he knew I was going to be there and I knew the ball was going to be there.”

Kieper scored from 30 yards out in the first quarter with 58 seconds left to give the Tigers an 8-0 lead.

MCC got on the board with 10:11 left in the second quarter after Justin Benda scored from 8 yards out but the Rebels missed on the 2-point conversion and Springfield led 8-6 at halftime. The Tigers got a late interception in the second quarter from Isaac Fink when the Rebels were driving to keep the game in their favor.

Woldt gave his team a 12-8 lead after he powered his way in from the Springfield 1. He appeared to have been stopped at the line of scrimmage but a second effort gave the Rebels a 12-8 lead and they completed the 2-point conversion with 6:13 left in the third quarter.

But the Tigers had one drive left in them late and they used their weapons to their advantage to set up a long scoring drive.

The Tigers have balanced the run game and the pass game in recent weeks, following the strong offensive line that has gotten better each week. Mason Rummel was once again a big part of the ground game and he was a big factor in Springfield’s improved defense, too.

“We had a good idea [of what they were going to do], we also knew that if they were going to quarterback sneak it, they’re going to get closer together and if not, we can get in their head and that’ll work a little bit,” Rummel said.

Scheffler threw for 147 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 70 yards and Fink had had 61 yards rushing and 54 yards receiving.

Springfield (7-4) will play Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10 at Shakopee West Junior High.

Defensively, Ivan Hovland had nine tackles and Curtis Tauer had seven tackles. Nolan Hovland had six tackles.

The current Tigers team can now savor the win. They went 2-7 last year and this year they learned to win by being physical.

“I think everybody has just kind of flipped the switch and we decided to start playing physical,” senior defensive lineman James Ploeger said. “Once we started playing physical, we learned that we can win games by playing good defense.”

Senior offensive lineman/defensive lineman Tim Rogotzke agreed on Ploeger’s take.

“We just came together, coaches told us that we gotta stick with everything and we’ll figure it out,” Rogotzke said. “We all came together and obviously it’s worked out.”