Just one win shy of the dome
By JANE OTTO
A lot of "If onlys . . . " probably filtered through the thoughts of Bulldog fans Friday night, but the outcome was still the same Adrian 20, Lester Prairie 14.
"I know it was a tough pill to swallow, but I make no excuses," said Lester Prairie Head Coach Joe Scoblic. "You've got to make the plays to win."
It was an Adrian goal-line wall which halted a possible Bulldog touchdown on fourth-and-one with three minutes left in regulation play that extended Adrian's lifeline. With the score tied at 14 all, the game was forced into overtime.
Earlier in the week Southwestern Minnesota dealt with blizzard conditions leaving Adrian to dig out from under. A soggy field and a cold wind, though, didn't affect game play.
Lester Prairie won the stats game with 259 total offensive yards to Adrian's 203. However, overall team play was evenly matched.
First quarter play saw plenty of hard hitting on the part of both defenses. Adrian's defense held halfback Paul Fenske to 38 yards rushing on 18 carries.
"Fenske is a 1000-yard rusher and they keyed on him. That's what good teams do," said Scoblic.
Regardless, Adrian couldn't prevent Fenske from scoring early in the second quarter.
The Bulldogs began their goal-line drive late in the first quarter. In position to score at the start of the second, Fenske ran in from three yards out putting the Bulldogs on the board first. The two-point conversion play failed but Bulldog fans were happy with the 6-0 lead.
Not much time passed when Lester Prairie knocked on Adrian's door again. Like they had done so many times throughout the season, quarterback Danny LaMott's on-the-money pass found the nimble hands of Rob Neumann. Neumann scored on the 58-yard reception.
Fenske rushed in for the two-point play and Lester Prairie was looking at a 14-0 lead. No lead, though, would be too comfortable in Adrian.
Shortly before the half ended, Adrian struck on a three-yard rush and a two-point conversion. At halftime, it was Lester Prairie 14, Adrian 8.
Third quarter play presented Adrian with a pretty good wind at their backs. Using it to their advantage, they paraded down field tying the game on a five-yard pass. The conversion play was unsuccessful and the teams were deadlocked at 14.
The fourth quarter put the wind at the Bulldogs' back and Lester Prairie took back the controls. Adrian fans could only watch the clock tick away as Lester Prairie put together a 17-yard drive.
Hearts momentarily stopped on the Lester Prairie sidelines when from fourth-and-one, a yard away from scoring and less then three minutes left to play, the Bulldog drive stalled.
Adrian couldn't put much together offensively on their next possession. But before the gun sounded, LaMott took a hard blow. Insisting he could still play, a dazed LaMott was forced to leave the game via a stretcher.
Sophomore Cory Quast was at the helm as the game went into overtime. Maybe jitters or not accustomed to taking the snap, he fumbled on the first three downs.
"He was playing under a very big shadow," said Scoblic. "Next year when he takes the snap every time, he can call the team his own."
In overtime, the ball was placed on the 10-yard line and each team was given a set of downs to go the 90 yards.
No team scored in the first, making a second overtime necessary.
Adrian was within striking distance when Lester Prairie was called for a late hit on third-and-five. The penalty put the ball on the Lester Prairie three and gave Adrian four more tries. Matt Konz crossed the Bulldog goal for the winning and final score of 20-14.
"I'm so proud of these guys. They were totally spent at game's end," said Scoblic. "What more could a coach ask for."
But, he wasn't going to make any excuses for the loss.
"There wasn't a play that Adrian ran that we didn't know," he said. "We just can't let them come back from 14 points down."
Though the road to the dome fell short, the Bulldogs finished with a 11-2 record, co-champions of the Tri-Valley Conference and Section 4-A champions.
"They have nothing to hang their heads about. I know I always say this, but some teams never get to state play," said Scoblic. "They've won the section three times. That's practically unparalleled."
The team meets today to vote on player awards.
Team rushing: 101 yards
Rushing: Fenske 18-38, 1 TD, 1 PAT; Josh Eckstein 11-69
Team passing: 158 yards
Passing: LaMott 6-14-158, 1 TD, 1 Int.
Receiving: Neumann 2 - 115 yards, 1 TD; Rob Parpart 2-23, Ben Shimanski 1-13, Mike Dietel 1-7.
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