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Goodhue survives with strong defense

By Ben Pherson

bpherson@postbulletin.com

GOODHUE — After Friday’s Section One, Class A title game, Goodhue football coach Clair Austin admitted he may have underestimated Lester Prairie.

The Bulldogs were able to move the ball through the air, and they forced five turnovers.

Despite the five giveaways, Goodhue’s defense didn’t bend, holding the Bulldogs to negative-2 rushing yards in the second half of a 21-0 victory.

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The win gives Goodhue a berth in the Class A state tournament for the sixth time in the past eight seasons.

"We’ve had a negative turnover ratio all season, yet we keep winning ball games," Austin said.

"Lester Prairie was a little better than I thought; they threw the ball really well. They played pretty well in the first half, but our defense really shut them down in the second half."

Goodhue’s power running game was on display with Craig and Eric Ryan alternating carries. Mix in a few carries from fullback Micah Huneke and some timely passing by Kelby Buck, and the Goodhue offense moved the ball with ease.

Had it not been for five turnovers, the game likely would have been a blowout.

"The turnovers were disappointing, but you can’t hang your head," Eric Ryan said. "We’ll have to play better next week — no turnovers, no mistakes."

The Wildcats will host New Ulm Cathedral, which defeated Mankato Loyola 21-14 in the Section 2A championship game, at 7 p.m. Friday in the state quarterfinals.

The Goodhue ground game piled up 283 yards on 57 carries. Eric Ryan paced the Wildcats with 22 carries for 101 yards and a touchdown. Craig Ryan had 24 carries for 86 yards, and Micah Huneke added five carries for 67 yards.

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"The line played really well, and we were able to wear them down in the fourth quarter," Eric Ryan said.

The Wildcats marched down the field on their opening drive, but a fumble inside the 5-yard line gave the Bulldogs the ball and momentum.

The Wildcats went on to fumble two punts — one in the first half and one in the second.

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