Mayer Lutheran shuts out Chargers 26-0

Staff photo by Steve Muscatello Minnesota Valley Lutheran’s Colton Collum tries to break away from a Mayer Lutheran defender during the Chargers loss Thursday at Johnson Field in New Ulm.

NEW ULM — Minnesota Valley Lutheran knew what to expect coming into Friday’s season-opening game with Mayer Lutheran for the second year in a row.

The Chargers either had to strike early on offense or shut things down defensively. Unfortunately for MVL, a big first half by the Crusaders helped lead them to a 26-0 shutout victory at Johnson Field in Mid-Southeast District, West Subdistrict football action.

Last year, the Crusaders thumped the Chargers 35-6 at home in the season opener.

Mayer Lutheran started the game with the ball at their own 35. A seven-play drive was capped off with a 27-yard touchdown pass from Baden Noennig to Mark Masters in the end zone for a 6-0 lead with 9:09 to go in the first quarter.

After an MVL three and out, a 46-yard punt return to the MVL 4-yard line by Mitchell Thiesfeld set the Crusaders up in great field position. A Noennig to Thiesfeld 4-yard touchdown pass and an extra point put Mayer Lutheran up 13-0 with 6:47 left in the first quarter.

Mayer Lutheran took a 20-0 lead with 7:49 to go the second quarter after a 1-yard touchdown run up the middle and an extra point. With less than five minutes to play in the half, MVL’s Jake Kettner had a nice catch and run from Matt Munsen up to midfield for 26 yards, but an MVL fumble on the next play ended the scoring hopes.

Mayer Lutheran held on to a 20-0 advantage at the half.

MVL got into the red zone for the first time all game in the third quarter after Colton Collum broke away for a 25-yard run to the Mayer Lutheran 15-yard line. An offensive holding penalty, however, proved costly for MVL a few plays later as it later led to a fourth-and-29.

Munsen completed a pass to Collum for 9 yards on fourth down, but it wasn’t enough to continue the drive.

Despite the failed drive, MVL head coach Jim Buboltz was happy with his team’s improved play in the third quarter.

“I’m very proud after the first quarter,” Buboltz said. “We had a slow start and the eyes opened up a little bit. But I thought our second half, especially our third quarter, was very fine. I thought we moved the ball well, wish we could have scored on the one drive [red-zone drive], but numerous first downs in the second half. It’s something to build on. We’re not walking out of here with our heads down. I get it, we got shut out, but we learned some more positive things tonight about our team going forward.”

Buboltz added that he wants to see things cleaned up offensively on third downs next week and said he was proud of how the offensive line held up after being down two starters on the line this week in Eddie Kowalke and Noah Wellner.

Mayer Lutheran added its final points of the game on a run to the outside by Thiesfeld for an 11-yard score with 9:47 left in the fourth quarter.

Munsen was 7 for 13 for 84 yards. He also ran for 34 yards, while Collum ran for 28 yards. Kettner had two catches for 37 yards, while Jace Marotz had two catches for 31 yards.

Collum and Kettner led the team in tackles with eight each, while Luke Peterson added six.

MVL travels to Lester Prairie for a 7 p.m. meeting with Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity next Friday.