Posted On: 11/3/18 5:33 AM
Go ahead and call it redemption.
St. Michael-Albertville players and coaches couldn’t find the words to describe a stunning 29-28 victory over Edina Friday at Kuhlman Stadium in Edina, where the Knights erased a four-touchdown deficit in the final quarter to advance to the Class 6A quarterfinals.
The Knights didn’t have to describe it, they lived the comeback and will continue to relive it. The comeback included the recovery of three consecutive onside kicks, a gutsy 2-point conversion and a one-yard plunge from Desean Philips that tied the game 28-28 with 91 seconds left. Gavin Wermager’s extra-point kick gave St. Michael-Albertville the 29-28 lead and Kale Hoselton’s interception with 1:09 left to play sealed the victory.
The Knights became victims of a viral video last season after Maple Grove staged a 21-point comeback victory in 59 seconds where the Crimson recovered two onside kicks.
Guess, a 28-point comeback and three recovered onside kicks kind of trumps that.
“Our kids have been through a lot,” St. Michael-Albertville head coach Jared Essler said. “I’m proud of the way our seniors hung in there because last year they were kind of the laughingstock, it went viral in the wrong way. I’d like for them to a have a little positive publicity. I wish I could bring my 2017 seniors back and they could be a part of it because that was a hard way for them to end.”
Philips rushed for three touchdowns and Brandon Langdok did a little bit of everything. Langdok recovered the first two onside kicks, hauled in a 14-yard touchdown on a brilliant double move with 4:12 to play and came up with a reception on a third-and-18 on the game-winning drive. Joey Bennett gathered in the final onside kick for St. Michael-Albertville.
“We definitely know what it’s like to be on both sides of that,” Langdok said. “It was nice to get on the winning side this time. Definitely, it was for those guys last year. We weren’t happy with the way it ended last year. That’s kind of what we’re dedicating this year to.”
St. Michael-Albertville didn’t point to one turning point in the game that changed everything, or an outstanding motivational speech, the Knights kept doing what they had, they just started to find more success. It started with quarterback Jared Duda, who completed 9 of 12 passes in the fourth quarter, including seven in a row. He had been 5 of 17 for the game before the seven straight completions.
“The kids were pretty down,” Essler said. “You could see it in their body language and the look in their eye. It took a little bit of momentum. Then at the end we were kind of playing on the edge and being aggressive and not being afraid to make mistakes. I think that kind of set our quarterback free where he didn’t have to worry.”
The string of completions buoyed Duda and his confidence grew in the final 6:22 of the game after St. Michael-Albertville scored its first touchdown. He finished 14 of 29 passing with 180 yards. Philips finished with 171 yards rushing on 29 carries and Langdok had six receptions for 89 yards.
“We didn’t care what the scoreboard said,” Duda said. “Once we started rolling, that’s when I was out there just playing. The first half I was a little tight, worried, the pressure. This is a big game. We were playing a good Edina team.”
Prior to the fourth quarter the only time St. Michael-Albertville (7-3) came close to the end zone came in the second quarter when Philips rushed 48 yards to the Hornets’ 12-yard line. A holding call negated a touchdown run from Philips on the next play and a delay of game penalty pushed the Knights back to the Edina 24-yard line. An incomplete pass on a fourth-and-27 ended the series.
The Hornets extended their lead to 14-0 five plays later when Jake Boltmann caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from Ethan Hufendick with three minutes to play in the first half.
Edina’s Will Davis intercepted Duda on the next possession and the Hornets cashed in when Boltman rushed in from 17 yards out with 1:24 to play in the first half.
Boltmann had three touchdowns in the first half, including a six-yard run with 6:15 to play in the second quarter.
Matt Cavanagh gave sixth-ranked Edina (7-3) a 28-0 lead with 4:46 to play in the third quarter with a 2-yard plunge.
Following the game Boltmann and several of the Hornets players joined the Knights in a postgame prayer at mid-field after St. Michael-Albertville players invited them over.
“Obviously a class act by doing that,” Boltmann said of the Knights. “It was a tough game. It’s still not sinking in, I’ve never seen anything like that.”
St. Michael-Albertville will face No. 1-ranked Lakeville North next Friday at Twin Cities Orthopedic Center in Eagan after the Panthers defeated Maple Grove 21-13.
Note: Game video provided by STMA Football