NEW ULM - With less than two minutes remaining and a two-point lead to overcome, MVL coach Jim Buboltz ordered his defense to let SESM running back David Surprenant go for a 37-yard touchdown run.
"That was the only way we were getting the ball back," Buboltz said. "There was a minute and a half left and we didn't have any timeouts - we had to let them score."
Score Surprenant did, giving Sleepy Eye St. Mary's a 20-12 lead following a botched extra point attempt.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Minnesota Valley Lutheran’s Seth Kroells (33) runs with the ball as Davis Suprenant (7) of Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s closes in during the second quarter Friday at Johnson Field in New Ulm.
For more photos of this event go to cu.nujournal.com
Minnesota Valley Lutheran, in its first game in the Southern Minnesota Conference since leaving 13 years ago, could not score from 60 yards out and 1:22 remaining to fall 20-12 to St. Mary's.
"MVL played one tough game," said SESM coach Brent Kucera. "They're well-coached. They came hard and didn't let our size intimidate them. They fought hard, but my guys never up."
The Knights (1-0, 1-0 SMC) took an early 7-0 lead thanks to a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Brandon Helget that capped off a 70-yard drive at the end of the first quarter.
After a missed field goal in the second quarter, the Chargers (0-1, 0-1 SMC) managed to get on the board with a 1-yard punch-in by 5-foot-4, 125-pound sophomore Josh Wong.
"We were powering with Grant [Wilson] and they're two totally different backs," Buboltz said. "You've got the big kid and the quick kid ... we had gone power, power and I thought it was a good change of speed. It obviously caught them off."
St. Mary's went into halftime leading 7-6, but came out firing on all cylinders.
"We just to settle our guys down and take it a little slower," Kucera said of his team's adjustments at halftime. "[The Chargers] were jumping around and shooting gaps and we just needed to be patient and find our blocks right."
Helget, Surprenant and running back Jaden Wait combined for 44 rushing yards on a 95-yard, four-minute drive that ended with a 33-yard haul-in by John Brandl.
Bradl finished the night with seven catches for 74 yards and one touchdown.
The passing game set the Knights apart thanks to Helget's statline of 9-for-14 passing for 95 yards and one touchdown.
"He's got a lot of things to fix, a lot to coach and stuff, but Brandon played a great game," Kucera said.
MVL quarterback DeAndre Parker was a more reluctant passer, going 2-for-7 in completions. His two completions, however, were good for a 34-yard strike to Wilson in the second quarter and a 30-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Hoffman on the first play from scrimmage in an early fourth-quarter drive.
"I'm proud of my guys, we played our hearts out," Buboltz said. "I'm not disappointed at all.
"We're coming into a new conference, we're playing one of the favorites in the conference, one of the best teams in Class A. Hats off to them, they are a fantastic team, but our guys were with them every step of the way."
SESM 7 0 7 6 - 20
MVL 0 6 0 6 - 12
SESM - Brandon Helget 1-yard TD run (Wensauer PAT good), 0:10 remaining
MVL - Andrew Kuester 32-yard FG no good, 6:22 remaming
MVL - Josh Wong 1-yard TD run (Kuester PAT blocked), 4:12 remaining
SESM - Brandon Helget to John Brandl 33-yard TD pass (Wensauer PAT good), 3:43 remaining
MVL - DeAndre Parker to Jacob Hoffman 30-yard TD pass (2-pt. conv. no good), 9:58 remaining
SESM - David Surprenant 37-yard TD run (Wansauer PAT no good), 1:25 remaining