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Eagles’ defense the key in win over Saints

NEW ULM — Former Minnesota Vikings head coach Bud Grant said when he was coaching that offense sells tickets and defense wins games.

Friday night, the New Um Eagles’ defense essentially earned the teams third win of the season. The last time the Eagles football game won that many games in the season was in the 2008-09 season when they won four games.

“Our defense and special teams helped in the win,” New Ulm coach Corey Kneeshaw said about the fourth quarter. “Our punt team downed a ball on their five-yard line (with 6:14 left in a 27-27 game) and Joe Fortwengler did a good job of punting the ball away from their guy. We were then able to get a punt snap over the head of their punter which got us a safety and we were able to come up with a couple of huge interceptions , none bigger than the one that Taylor Savoy took back (36 yards) for a pick six.”

The New Ulm defense also played a key role in the third quarter when the Saints had 22 offensive plays to only seven for the Eagles and allowed just one touchdown.

“We did not do a good enough job of getting off of the field and making them punt,” Kneeshaw said. “St.Peter did not punt since their first drive of the second quarter and that is too long for our defense to be on the field. One of our normal starters (on defense) Hunter Landsteiner did not play and our defensive line depth was challenged. I think in the second half they gassed us pretty good with the run game. They were a 70-30 pass-to-run ratio team all year but it was more of a 50-50 (Friday). They did a good job of attacking our weakness now, which is our rush defense. This was the best they played all year.”

SAVOY STEPS UP: Friday night, senior Taylor Savoy stepped up big with three second-half interceptions with one of them going for a touchdown.

“He has been a huge surprise for us,” Kneeshaw said of the senior. “And it started with our summer program and the seven-on-seven drills and the passing league stuff. Luke Scheid got dinged up in baseball and for the better part of a month, Luke did not play in the seven-on-seven. So Taylor had to take those reps and those reps are what we are seeing right now — he is so prepared for things and is always in the right spot. He did a lot of work this summer. He is having a phenomenal season right now.”

“We started the process last year (two wins) of learning how to win and you are seeing it this year — we are learning how to win the close games. We got down late 27-20, we had a long kickoff return (47 yards) from Matt Schieman and then Hunter (Ranweiler) to Connor (Foley) to tie the game. When adversity happens to us, we do not fold.”

GREYHOUNDS GET BIG ROAD WIN: New Ulm Cathedral put up its biggest point total in a game this year when they scored 48 against Adrian on the road.

And Cathedral running back junior David Berg ended with 289 yards rushing on 16 carries for an average of just over 18 yards a carry and four touchdowns. His 289 yards rushing is only second in Cathedral football history to Jeff Schnobrich’s 303 yards in a game.

“You read about the guys who are carrying the ball, but really it is the offensive line,” Cathedral coach Denny Lux said. “In the offense we are running, all 11 guys on the field have to be doing their jobs. (Friday) we saw a number of different defenses, but our offensive line adjusted. The offense is really a team effort. David had some long runs but that is because of players carrying out their fakes and our players getting downfield on their blocks. The downfield blocks were something to see. Between John Gillis, Alex Hillesheim and Andrew McClain (Cathedral tight ends) are doing a super job on the linebackers or on the safeties — that is what makes our offense go. And our guards are like fullbacks without the ball.”

Berg is also a weapon on special teams as a kicker. Lux said that in practice, the junior has nailed field goals from 40-43 yards out.

Lux also said that B.J. Mages has been a staple in the middle with 16 tackles Friday. Linebacker Tyler Wilson also added 17 tackles.

Cathedral’s defense was tested by a 6-foot-3, 270 pound fullback.

“We looked better on the defensive line in the second half,” Lux said.

CHARGERS HAVE ANOTHER POOR SECOND HALF: Minnesota Valley Lutheran head football coach Jim Buboltz said his team played a good first half before another poor second half performance dropped the Chargers to their fifth straight loss of the season in a 25-8 loss to USC.

“They scored on their second play of the game, but then they only had two other first downs in the first half,” Buboltz said. “We did not get a consistent effort from our offense — we drove it between the 20-yard lines the entire first half, but could not finish off a drive. And the third quarter was a landslide quarter that we are familiar with.”

Buboltz said that the third quarter was deja vu for his team.

“It reminded me of the third quarter against St. Clair and of a lot of games,” he said. “It is a microcosm of our season”

MVL trailed 19-0 going into the final quarter.

“We put together a couple of good quarters, but offensively we are not finishing our drives. Again we need to be more consistent,” Buboltz said. “Our offensive line needs to come together and have the mentality that they need to smell the end zone. We are making some very crucial mistakes.

“We still have an opportunity to do something this season and get something done. We are running out of time this season and I do not want that for them. I want to see them be successful and figure this out and I pray that we are going go.”

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