Tigers keep poise, defeat Ada-Borup to advance to state
Shawn Klimek wasn't too concerned that his Nevis football team trailed at the half of Thursday's Section 6 9-man championship game at the Fargodome.
Klimek had just watched the Tigers give up 21 straight points in the final 3:23 of the first half as Ada-Borup turned a 24-7 deficit into a 28-24 lead.
The Tigers regained their composure in the second half as a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter led Nevis to a 38-35 victory and the school's first trip to the state playoffs since 1993.
Klimek couldn't have asked for a better start from his team when Collin Huckbody hit Gerald Beckerleg on a 72-yard touchdown pass on the second play from scrimmage.
Ada-Borup, which had won the last four section titles (including a 37-7 win over Nevis in 2010), responded with a five-play, 43-yard drive to take the lead. Lance Ruebke capped the drive with a 1-yard TD plunge as the Cougars claimed a 7-6 lead just 2:00 into the game.
Nevis dominated the rest of the quarter and the first half of the second quarter in building a 24-7 lead.
On the Tigers' next series, Huckbody hit Taylor Chase on a 16-yard screen pass, found Beckerleg for 20 yards and hit Chase on a 14-yard route as Nevis drove to the A-B 2. That drive stalled when Blake Fetting intercepted a pass in the end zone.
After forcing the Cougars to punt, the Tigers drove 59 yards in six plays to take a 12-7 lead. Gavin Becker's 12-yard catch and two Ada-Borup penalties for late hits set up a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Huckbody at the 2:06 mark.
On the ensuing kickoff, Nevis recovered a fumble and the Tigers capitalized when Huckbody ran in from 3 yards out to give the Tigers an 18-7 lead with 1:51 to play in the first quarter.
The Cougars were forced to punt again and pinned Nevis at its own 3. The Tigers faced a fourth-and-2 at their own 35 when Huckbody faked a punt and scampered 13 yards for a first down. A 9-yard run by Austin Becker and 14-yard gain by Robbie Hine set up another TD by Huckbody, this one from 1 yard out, as the Tigers led 24-7 with 5:49 to play in the first half.
That comfortable lead quickly vanished as the Cougars struck for three touchdowns to end the half.
Lance Ruebke scored on a 9-yard run with 3:23 remaining and JD Kappes hit Mitchell Ruebke on a 50-yard TD pass following a Nevis punt to make it 24-21. Ada-Borup's defense forced another Nevis punt and the Cougars used a 22-yard punt return to set up a 22-yard pass from Kappes to Mitchell Ruebke with 32 seconds to go to carry a 28-24 lead into the half.
Ada-Borup opened the second half by marching to the Nevis 4, but an interception by Taylor Chase ended that drive.
Hine rushed for 23 and 10 yards, Courtland Chase caught an 11-yard pass and Huckbody had a 12-yard run as the Tigers drove to the A-B 4. Another interception in the end zone ended that drive.
Kappes completed a 12-yard screen pass and rushed for 7 yards while Lance Ruebke completed a 15-yard halfback pass as the Cougars marched into Nevis territory. But a holding penalty forced the Cougars to punt.
Kappes was injured during that drive and the Cougars' offense struggled the rest of the game.
The Tigers regained possession at their own 34 and drove 66 yards in 12 plays to reclaim the lead. Gavin Becker's 20-yard catch was followed with runs of 10 and 17 yards by Huckbody as Nevis drove to the A-B 1. Huckbody capped the drive with another 1-yard run and Gavin Hitchcock ran in the conversion to give Nevis a 32-28 lead.
After the Cougars lost possession at the Nevis 41, the Tigers sealed the win with a 10-play, 59-yard scoring drive. Kiefer Miller rushed five times for 24 yards and Gavin Becker caught a 12-yard pass on fourth-and-11 at the A-B 18 to set up a 3-yard TD run by Miller. That gave Nevis a 38-28 lead with 2:23 to play.
The Cougars countered with a 5-yard TD reception by Mitchell Ruebke with 1:17 to go, but Nevis recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock to end Ada-Borup's reign as section champs.
The Tigers finished with 514 yards in offense with Huckbody rushing 31 times for 160 yards and completing 15 of 23 passes for 212 yards. Hine added 72 yards on 10 carries while Hitchcock had 43 yards on six attempts. Beckerleg caught three passes for 96 yards and Gavin Becker had five receptions for 58 yards as the Tigers improved to 11-0.
Kappes completed 17 of 20 passes for 220 yards while Mitchell Ruebke caught 10 passes for 157 yards and Lance Ruebke caught 11 passes for 98 yards as A-B compiled 305 yards through the air, but was held to 76 yards rushing. The Cougars, who entered the game rated No. 8 in the state 9-man poll, end the season with a 9-2 record.
Nevis, which was rated No. 5 in the state poll, will play South Ridge (10-1) in a state quarterfinal game Friday night at St. Cloud State University. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m.
Ada-Borup 7 21 0 7.....35
Nevis 18 6 0 14..38
N-Beckerleg 72 pass from C. Huckbody (run failed)
AB-L. Ruebke 1 run (Fetting kick)
N-C. Huckbody 1 run (pass failed)
N-C. Huckbody 3 run (run failed)
N-C. Huckbody 1 run (pass failed)
AB-L. Ruebke 9 run (run failed)
AB-M. Ruebke 50 pass from Kappes (Fetting run)
AB-M. Ruebke 22 pass from Kappes (Fetting kick)
N-C. Huckbody 1 run (Hitchcock pass from C. Huckbody)
N-Miller 3 run (run failed)
AB-M. Ruebke 5 pass from Brainard (Fetting kick)
RUSHING. Ada-Borup: L. Ruebke 13-52, Fetting 4-14, Kappes 4-10, Brainard 1-5. Nevis: C. Huckbody 31-160, Hine 10-72, Hitchcock 6-43, A. Becker 4-27, Miller 6-27.
PASSING. Ada-Borup: Kappes 17-20-1 for 220 yards; Brainard 7-9-0 for 61 yards; Fetting 2-5-0 for 9 yards; L. Ruebke 1-1-0 for 15 yards. Nevis: C. Huckbody 15-23-2 for 212 yards.
RECEIVING. Ada-Borup: L. Ruebke 11-98, M. Ruebke 10-157, Fetting 3-28, Hoven 1-14. Nevis: G. Becker 5-58, Beckerleg 3-96, T. Chase 3-37, Hitchcock 2-5, C. Chase 1-11, Hine 1-5.