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Thomas, Awesome Blossoms dominate Tigers

Staff photo by Travis Rosenau Springfield’s Mason Rummel is brought down in the backfield by a host of Blooming Prairie defenders after making a catch in Saturday afternoon’s state semifinals game at Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton High School. The Awesome Blossoms won 42-20.

JANESVILLE — In a Class A state football quarterfinals game between two unbeaten teams on Saturday, Blooming Prairie took an early three-score lead against Springfield and didn’t look back on the way to a 42-20 victory at Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton High School.

With the win, the 11-0 Awesome Blossoms move on to meet Ada-Borup in a semifinals game at U.S. Bank Stadium on Saturday, while the Tigers end their season at 10-1.

Blooming Prairie had good blocking from its offensive line and a solid effort from its defensive line against the Tigers, something that Springfield head coach Bob Fink said was key to winning the game.

“I would say No. 1, we said before the game, ‘The team that wins the up-front battle will win and dominate this game.'” Fink said. “And [Blooming Prairie] definitely won the game up front both with their offensive and defensive line.”

Blooming Prairie quarterback Kaden Thomas was 22 of 28 for 288 yards passing and four touchdowns, while Gabe Hagen caught eight passes for 123 yards and a pair of scores and Alex Baldwin had eight catches for 98 yards and two touchdowns.

For Springfield, quarterback Decker Scheffler rushed for 138 yards yards and a touchdown and also caught a touchdown pass, while Kadin Johnson rushed for 47 yards.

Ivan Hovland led the Tiger defense with 16 total tackles, while Nolan Hovland and Mason Rummel each had 11 tackles and two tackles for a loss apiece. Jordan Toll also added a first-half interception for Springfield, while Scheffler and Ashton Danielson each recorded a sack.

The Awesome Blossoms went ahead 14-0 early in the game after a 1-yard touchdown run from Matthew Pryor, a 4-yard touchdown reception by Gabe Hagen and a pair of extra-point kicks by Colin Jordison. With Springfield driving down the field on its third drive of the game, Karson Vigeland intercepted a pass and took it 64 yards to set Blooming Prairie up in excellent field position.

A few plays later, Blooming Prairie went ahead 21-0 after a 1-yard TD run by Pryor and an extra-point kick by Jordison. The Awesome Blossoms held that lead after one quarter.

Scheffler was able to put the Tigers on the board early in the second quarter on a 74-yard TD keeper down the left sideline before Mark Peschges added the extra-point kick to have Springfield down 21-7.

The Awesome Blossoms continued to score, however, as Baldwin brought in a pair of late second-quarter touchdown passes for a 35-7 lead at the half. The first TD catch was a 39-yarder with 1:06 left in the half, while the other went for 15 yards with just six seconds left in the half.

That final TD before the break was set up after Zach Weber picked off a deep pass near midfield.

“It seemed like every single break went against us,” Fink said. “A fumble, an interception, an onside kick that went off, and we could not catch a break at all. If we could have held in there, it very easily could have been a 21-14, 21-21 game at half, if we caught a break.”

After a scoreless third quarter and 9:34 left in the game, Scheffler lined up at receiver and brought in a deep 80-yard touchdown pass from Rummel to have the Tigers down 35-14 after a Peschges extra-point kick. Blooming Prairie added its final touchdown of the game on a 62-yard TD pass to Hagen with 5:23 left in the game.

With less than two minutes to play, the Tigers drove down the field and got one final play in the red zone with no time left on the clock after a Blooming Prairie penalty. On that final play at the Blooming Prairie 10-yard line, Scheffler was able to avoid heavy pressure and complete a pass through double coverage to Ivan Hovland in the end zone for the final score.

While the year didn’t end how the Tigers and their fans hoped it would, Fink said that there were a lot of good memories to take from the season.

“Can’t say enough good things about this year’s group of seniors and the players we have on the team,” Fink said. “Disappointing way to end the season, and yet so many good memories to look back upon and a lot of things to be proud of.”

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