Lead slips away from Triton in OT defeat

By Sarah Doty

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

ST. PETER — Triton led by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s Class AA state quarterfinal game with Luverne.

But fumbles, penalties, an interception and a turnover on downs by the Cobras allowed Luverne to tie the score, and the Cardinals went on to win 48-42 in overtime.

"We made a lot of mistakes and you can’t do that at this level," said Triton coach Don Henderson.


"It was a very tough loss, probably as tough a loss as we have had. I know they fought hard, I know they played hard, I know the effort was there, but when you get to this point in the playoffs you have to combine smart with effort."

Senior running back Kevin Ramirez added, "It’s a horrible feeling. I really wanted to get up there (to the semifinal in the Metrodome), but we couldn’t get it done. I really thought we had this game, but then they played harder than we did at the end."

With nearly as many turnovers as touchdowns, the crowd kept warm cheering their teams on a frigid snow-filled afternoon at Hollingsworth Field, at Gustavus Adolphus College.

Triton started off the back-and-forth scoring game just minutes into the first quarter by capping a 92-yard drive with a fake field goal and a 19-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Logan Spitzack to Garrett Schaefer.

Though the scoring came early, it didn’t come easily. A wall of Cardinals frequently put the Cobras in third- and fourth-down predicaments, and slowed Ramirez.

Luverne senior Phillip Paquette broke away from several tackles just a minute later for a 48-yard touchdown run, but a high snap botched the extra point, and Triton stayed ahead 7-6.

That wouldn’t last long, as an interception by senior Zack Clark gave the Cardinals great field position to once again find the end zone.

Several more traded touchdowns and turnovers, and both teams entered the locker rooms at halftime tied 21.


As the second half started, the temperature dropped, the wind picked up and the snow started to fall, but that didn’t seem to affect the Cobras, who emerged from the locker room fired up.

The Cobras had a huge defensive stand to start off the second half, and a short punt into the wind by the Cardinals gave them excellent field position to quickly go ahead 28-21.

Tough defense again by the Cobras led to a fumble, which senior Pat Haltvick recovered and Triton marched down the field again to go ahead 35-21.

Going into overtime, Triton was the first to have a chance to score, but a false start penalty and a blocked field goal left the score tied at 42.

Then it was the Cardinals’ turn. On the third attempt, senior Matt Fodness, with the help of the entire offensive line, pushed his way across the goal line to end the game, 48-42.

This was the third time in three years that the two teams had met at state. Last year Luverne came out on top in the state quarterfinals 10-7, but in 2006, Triton demolished the Cardinals 70-21 in the state finals.

"I was expecting a tough team," said Ramirez, "a tough game like today, but I just wanted us to win."

Luverne will face Hawley in the state semifinals next Saturday at 5:45 p.m. at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. Hawley (12-0) defeated Eden Valley-Watkins (11-1) 24-0 Friday night to advance.


"(Luverne) has a good football team," said Henderson. "This is their third year at the rodeo, they know what’s going on and they know how to prepare for it. They have been to the state championship game the last two years, we just wish them well."

"I hope they make it all the way," said Ramirez.



Luverne 14 7 7 14 6 — 48

Triton 7 14 21 0 0 — 42


Triton — Garrett Schaefer 19 pass from Logan Spitzack (Kevin Ramirez kick,) 7:57.


Drive: 14 plays, 92 yards, 4:03. Key play: Ramirez lined up to kick the field goal on fourth-and-20, when instead Spitzack connected with Schaefer for the TD.

Luverne — Phillip Paquette 48 run (conversion failed), 6:11.

Drive: 5 plays, 63 yards, 1:46. Key play: Paquette broke loose for 48 yards.

Luverne — Paquette 19 run (Zach Olson fell on a loose two-point conversion in the end zone) 2:52.

Drive: 6 plays, 75 yards, 1:48. Key play: Zack Clark intercepted Spitzack at the 25 and ran it to the 45.


Triton — Pat Haltvick 2 run (kick failed), 11:06.

Drive: 11 plays, 85 yards, 3:46. Key play: Spitzack hit Damon Andrews for 22 yards on a third-and-6 to Luverne’s 1.


Triton — Spitzack 1 run (Ramirez conversion), 6:42.

Drive: 6 plays, 47 yards, 2:42. Key play: Spitzack intercepted Ryan Hoff and returned it 23 yards from the 47 to the 24.

Luverne — Ryan Hoff 11 run (BG Xaisongkham kick,) 1:15.

Drive: 4 plays, 29 yards, 1:30. Key play: Taylor Mulder ran 15 yards on second-and-10 to the Triton 14.


Triton — Schaefer 26 pass from Spitzack (Ramirez kick), 7:28.

Drive: 3 plays, 38 yards, 1:12. Key play: A short 6-yard punt by Luverne gave Triton excellent field position.

Triton — Andrews 32 pass from Spitzack (Ramirez kick), 4:58.


Drive: 5 plays, 35 yards, 1:32. Key play: On fourth-and-7, Spitzack found Andrews with single coverage in the end zone.

Luverne — Olson 25 pass from Hoff (Xaisongkham kick), 2:26.

Drive: 10 plays, 73 yards, 2:32. Key play: A Paquette fumble went out of bounds after several Triton players had their hands on it.

Triton — Schaefer 18 pass from Spitzack (Ramirez kick), 0:52.

Drive: 11 plays, 65 yards, 1:34. Key play: Spitzack connected with Jason Jennings Jr. for a 14 yard pass on second-and-15 before Jennings was flipped over a defender and taken off the field with an injury.


Luverne — Zack Clark 27 pass from Hoff (kick failed), 7:33.

Drive: 8 plays, 61 yards, 4:27. Key play: Clark and Hoff connected just one play earlier for 27 yards on second-and-23.

Luverne — Clark 74 pass from Hoff (Paquette conversion), 2:00.

Drive: 1 play, 74 yards, 0:08.


Luverne — Matt Fodness 1 run.


Luverne Tri

First downs 21 21

Total scrimmage yards 420 413

Total yards rushing 219 206

Total yards passing 201 207

Passes attempted 17 27

Passes completed 11 15

Passes intercepted 1 3

Punts/avg. distance 3/20.3 2/29.0

Fumbles/fumbles lost 4/2 2/1

Penalties/yds. penalized 4-20 10-55



Luverne — Paquette 24-128; Olson 4-75; Fodness 6-19. Triton — Ramirez 26-156; Haltvick 10-27.


Luverne — Hoff 11-17, 201, 1 interception. Triton — Sptizack 15-26, 207, 3 int.


Luverne — Clark 5-140; Olson 2-20. Triton — Andrews 4-83; Schaefer 4-78; Ramirez 4-13.

What To Read Next
Get Local