R-P’s defense says ‘no Moe’ to Blossoms
By Donny Henn
RUSHFORD — It was a tough night for Blooming Prairie’s standout quarterback Austin Moe.
Rushford-Peterson’s defense played its best game of the season and bagged a surprisingly easy 32-0 win over Blooming Prairie in the Section One, Class A championship game on a balmy Friday night at Ben Niggle Field.
R-P (9-2) avenged a 30-0 loss to Blooming Prairie (8-3) in last year’s section semifinals, and the Trojans hoisted their fifth section trophy in the last nine years.
The R-P defense sacked Moe six times, intercepted him twice, and put 8 points on the scoreboard by way of a fumble recovery and return, and a safety.
"Those (R-P) guys definitely wanted it tonight," said Moe, who was slow to get up after two hard hits, and finished a long night with 24 carries for just 19 yards, including the sacks.
"They came out and wanted to throttle us, and that’s exactly what they did," Moe added.
R-P’s defense clearly rose to the occasion against a Moe-led Blossoms offense that had put up 97 points and over 1,000 yards in its first two playoff wins over Wabasha-Kellogg and Goodhue.
R-P coach Jim Reinhardt said before the game that he expected a high-scoring shoot-out. He was genuinely surprised afterwards.
"I would have felt lucky if we would’ve held ‘em to 27 points," said Reinhardt. "Defensively that’s the first time we’ve put four good quarters together this season."
Blooming Prairie had a big size advantage on the line, including 260-pound junior Aaron Krejci at center and 280-pound Josh Johnson at a guard. But R-P countered the Blossoms’ size with speed and aggressiveness.
R-P linemen Cayle Pich, Todd Vesterse, Mark Agrimson and Logan Brand took turns chasing Moe in and out of the pocket.
"We knew we had to get to Moe really fast, and keep the pressure on him," said Agrimson, a rugged 200-pound tackle.
Brand finished with two sacks from the right end, the other linemen all had one sack each, and linebacker Matt Agrimson added another.
"I’m just so happy right now," exclaimed Vesterse, who added an acrobatic interception in the second half, putting icing on what Reinhardt called the 210-pound senior tackle’s best game.
"That was the big thing, Austin just didn’t have enough time to throw," said Blossoms head coach Chad Gimbel. "We thought we had the size and strength up front to play with them, but they just came out at a different level than us."
R-P’s defense held Blooming Prairie to three plays and a punt on its first possession, and the resulting excellent field position set up the Trojans’ first score, a perfectly thrown 31-yard pass from Steven Koenen to Nick Leisen.
The Trojans defense scored the next points, foiling a time-consuming 16-play drive by the Blossoms that reached deep into R-P territory.
R-P linebacker Brady Boyum crushed Moe as he was running out of the pocket, jarring the ball loose. Brandon Weideman scooped it up and ran 90 yards up the right sideline for a game-changing touchdown.
All agreed it was the play of the game.
"Huge play," Reinhardt said. "Big for our morale, not so good for theirs."
"It turned the momentum; it was huge," Gimbel said.
"Every play is potentially game-changing, but one play isn’t going to change a game that ends 32-0," Moe said with a shrug.
The Trojans were up comfortably 23-0 at halftime, scoring another touchdown on a 2-play, 65-yard drive, and also a 27-yard fieldgoal by Logan Brand.
Moe finished with 158 yards passing, completing 15 of 34 attempts, with one pick-off. The Blossoms managed only 68 yards rushing on 31 carries.
R-P used an effective ground game to control the ball and the clock. Twin brothers Matt Agrimson (19 for 81) and Matt Agrimson (14 for 79) combined for 160 yards rushing, with Mark scoring on runs of 26 and 1 yards.
RUSHFORD-PETERSON 32, BL. PRAIRIE 0
Blooming Prairie 0 0 0 0 — 0
Rushford-Peterson 6 17 0 9 — 32
R-P — Nick Leisen 31 pass from Steven Koenen (kick failed), 8:05.
R-P — Brandon Weideman 90 fumble recovery return (kick blocked), 8:01.
R-P — Mark Agrimson 26 run (Matt Agrimson run), 2:26.
R-P — Brand 27 FG, 0:06.
R-P — Mark Agrimson 1 run (Brand kick), 9:05.
R-P — Safety (B.P. quarterback Austin Moe fumbles ball through back of endzone), 5:52.
Total Net Yards 226 324
Rushes-yards 31-68 48-223
Passing 158 101
RUSHING — Blooming Prairie, Austin Moe 24 carries for 19 yards, Jamie Willette 4-29, Gabe Cartes 4-20. Rushford-Peterson, Matt Agrimson 19-81, Mark Agrimson 14-79, Steven Koenen 4-32, Lucas Gravos 6-27.
PASSING — Blooming Prairie, Austin Moe 15 completions, 34 attempts, 158 yards, 0 touchdowns, 2 interceptions; Matt Zellmer 0-1-0-0-1. Rushford-Peterson, Steven Koenen 5-12-101-1-2.
RECEIVING — Blooming Prairie, Matt Zellmer 7 receptions for 72 yards, Cooper Nelson 2-40, Justin Ingvalson 3-25, Jamie Willette 1-15, Josh Toquam 1-7, Jeffrey Doerhoefer 1-(-1). Rushford-Peterson, Logan Brand 2-48, Nick Leisen 1-31, Matt Agrimson 1-16, Kasey Olloff 1-6.