Minneapolis comes away with its first win on the year in a tight, back-and-forth affair against Republic County on Friday night, 20-14.
The game was played at Concordia’s Harold M. Clark Stadium due to ongoing turf installation at Minneapolis High School. The location is nearly smack dab in-between Minneapolis and Belleville.
Republic County would strike first in this game, though, as the Buffs quarterback, Cody Dahl, found receiver, Blake Aurand, for 57 yards and a score. The two-point conversion was good and Republic County led 8-0 midway through the first.
The Lions would have an answer, however. After a long drive which took Minneapolis in to the early portion of the second quarter, MHS would end it off on a seven yard touchdown pass from Trent Moeckel to Jonathan Lowe in the back of the end zone. The two-pointer was no good, so the Lions still trailed 8-6, midway through the second.
Republic County then gifted Minneapolis great starting field position after a fumble in Buffalo territory. Minneapolis would finish it off with a two yard touchdown run by Gannon Cleveland. Again, though, the two-point conversion was no good, but Minneapolis had its first lead of the year, 12-8; with just 37 seconds remaining before halftime.
The time was enough for Republic County. Dahl found Aurand for their second touchdown hookup on the night–this a 34 yard touchdown pass–as time expired in the first half. The play seemed deflating to Minneapolis as the Lions trailed at the break 14-12.
The Lions’ defense responded, though, in the second half. Minneapolis completely shut down the rushing attack of the Buffs and forced them in to third-and-longs and fourth-and-longs all half. Buffalo running back, Jared Baxa–who came in with 484 yards rushing and 5 touchdowns through two games–was held to 103 yards on the game and no scores. He came in averaging 13.8 yards per carry. On Friday night in Concordia, was held to six yards per carry.
Meanwhile, the Minneapolis offense dominated the time of possession battle. The Lions would push the Buffs up and down the field all night. It culminated in the game’s biggest play: a 66 yard touchdown pass from Moeckel to tight end, Spencer Davidson. The play snatched the lead back for Minneapolis as they converted the two-point conversion. Midway through the third, the Lions led 20-14.
Republic County would only have two more cracks at the ball. One, they drove in to MHS territory early in the fourth, but turned the ball over on downs. The Buffs then held Minneapolis after a missed field goal, but did not cross the 50 again.
Minneapolis got the ball back with just over six minutes remaining in the game, and capped off by a third down pass to Lowe, were able to run the clock out without giving it back to Republic County.
Republic County (2-1, 2-1 NCAA) was looking for its first 3-0 start since 1999. The Buffs were held to just 251 yards of total offense on Friday. They’ll start district play by hosting Maur Hill next week.
Minneapolis (1-2, 1-1 NCAA) has now won four in-a-row over its league foes to the north. The Lions were led by a monster night by a senior duo, Moeckel and Davidson.
Moeckel went 12-19 passing, for 231 yard and 2 touchdowns. Davidson was the Nex-Tech Wireless “Player of the Game,” though. He had seven catches, 193 yards and 1 touchdown on Friday night. Meanwhile, Minneapolis offensive/defensive lineman, Brody Vance, had the H&R “Block of the Game” as the senior not only blocked his defender on crucial two-pointer conversion, but also helped push his teammate across the goal line on the same play.
Next Friday, Minneapolis travels to Norton (3-0) who beat Russell in OT on Friday. The game can be heard live on Salina radio station, 92.7 The New Zoo.