ROCHESTER - It's safe to say that Sleepy Eye St. Mary's hadn't seen a defense like Faribault Bethlehem Academy's all season long.
The Cardinals scored two straight touchdowns in the second quarter to build a two-possession lead against Sleepy Eye St. Mary's, then proceeded to hang onto the lead in the second half. The loss ended the Knights' season with a 43-12 defeat in the Class A state football tournament quarterfinals at Rochester Community/Technical College Saturday.
It was the first loss of the season for St. Mary's, which finished the season with a 10-1 record. BA will play Dawson-Boyd at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Metrodome.
"The best defense we've seen all year," St. Mary's coach Brent Kucera said. "They really controlled the line of scrimmage and they forced us to pass when we didn't want to. They did a really good job."
The Cardinals struck first when Kyle Filzen found Mark Mahowald in stride over the middle at the St. Mary's 45. Mahowald easily ran into the end zone untouched and the PAT gave the Cardinals a 7-0 lead with 6:20 left in the first quarter.
Besides the touchdown, neither the Knights nor the Cardinals were able to get much going offensively in the first 12 minutes of play.
On the Knights' first drive of the second quarter, Jordan Anderson found Sean Mathiowetz for a 32-yard pass strike that brought the ball into BA territory. But the drive stalled and St. Mary's turned the ball over on downs with 9:53 left at the BA 29.
After the Cardinals punted, the Knights took over and got the ball down to the BA 6 on a 34-yard pass from Anderson to John Brandl. After a couple of incompletions, Anderson kept the ball and ran in for the six-yard touchdown with 6:47 left. The two-point conversion failed to make it 7-6 with 6:47 left in the first half.
The celebration for the Knights was short lived. After the ensuing kickoff, Filzen took off, eluded a couple of Knights defenders, and scored on a 68-yard run to put the Cardinals up 13-6. The two-point conversion made it 15-6 on a pass to Blake Langerud with 6:32 left.
One drive later, Adam Clark scored from four yards out and the PAT made it 22-6.
The Knights put together a quick drive that ended on a five-yard pass from Anderson to Brandl that cut the BA lead to 22-12 with 46 seconds left in the half.
The Knights recovered a fumble in the third quarter, but from that point on there were nothing but bad things to come for the Section 2A champions.
Anderson threw an interception that was picked off by Mahowald and returned 50 yards for the score to make it 29-12 with 6:21 left in the third quarter.
"That was really a big turning point," Kucera said. "They just made a big play and they did things right."
Two plays into St. Marys' next drive, Anderson was picked off again at the Knights' 39 with 5:57 to go in the quarter.
The Cardinals added to the lead after they took advantage of a very short field. After they returned a St. Mary's punt to the six, Langerud scored to make it 36-12 after Lexi Temple's PAT.
Filzen scored in the fourth quarter to put the Cardinals ahead 43-12, which was the final margin.
Kucera commented on his seniors, who were a big part of the success of the last two years.
"It's tough losing them, I have a tight connection with them and they helped get us to where we are now," he said.
Game stats were not available