Becker QB makes big plays, Stewartville is eliminated
CHANHASSEN – Tough to plan on a taking on a quarterback who's going to hover toward playing flawlessly.
But that's what Stewartville was up against Friday night as it took on No. 1-ranked, unbeaten and state defending champion Becker in the state Class AAAA football semifinals at Chanhassen High School.
Pretty close to perfect was Bulldogs quarterback Andrew Stanger. And that was the difference in Becker eliminating No. 2-ranked Stewartville 34-14 for the second straight year in the state semis.
The Tigers finished 11-1, while Becker climbed to 12-0.
"We've faced some really good quarterbacks this season, but nobody who threw the ball quite that well," Tigers coach Aaron Meyer said. "Especially the way he threw the deep ball."
Stanger finished with 232 yards passing, hitting on 10 of 18 attempts, three of the completions for touchdowns. Two were bombs, a 70-yard TD strike to Milan Kent, and a 66-yard strike to Alex Meidt.
Both those long heaves were of the gorgeous variety, each lofted with precision over his receivers' shoulder.
"The big plays were the difference," Stewartville senior receiver/defensive end Chye Stecher said. "That and momentum."
The biggest play of the contest happened just before halftime. And it was also easily the most profound momentum turner of the night.
The teams were locked in a 7-all tie at the time, though Stewartville owned most of those first 24 minutes. Stewartville's touchdown came at the 8:27 mark of the first half and capped a short 22-yard drive after Becker had given it perfect field position following a fumble. Andrew Quandt finished that march off with a 12-yard screen pass to Jordan Johnson that went for a touchdown.
Becker had scored after Stanger lofted a 70-yard beauty of a pass to Milan Kent. One play later he hit Meidt on a 13-yard fade pattern for a TD.
Then it happened. The game turned.
Stewartville had been on a march late in the first half and had the ball at Becker's 22-yard line. Then with 1:35 to play, Quandt tried a quick pass that Becker's Austin Rassmussen instead got his mitts on and went streaking the other way with it, 78 yards for a touchdown.
Stewartville never would recover. It was one of three interceptions that Quandt – who was pressured all night by Becker's defensive front – threw in the game.
But none was bigger than this one. And it had come just as Stewartville was thinking it would grab the lead, not the other way around.
"We were hoping to go up 14-7 there," Meyer said. "But instead they do. That hurt us. We wished we could have done a better job tonight with our passing game."
Pass rush, coverage
Quandt's totals were fine, with 168 yards passing. But his receivers had trouble getting open against Becker's speedy and vaunted defense. Then there was that Bulldogs pass rush. Quandt was sacked numerous times and finished with minus 45 yards on the ground. Combine the strong Becker pass coverage and those sacks, and those interceptions followed.
While Stewartville had trouble containing the Becker passing game, it had no such issues with its running game. The Bulldogs managed just 70 yards on the ground. That was compared to the 167 yards that Stewartville star running back Johnson totaled by himself.
"Becker is a really good team," Johnson said. "And they were able to hit us with a few things we weren't expecting."
No doubt, it was that ability to air it out that was the biggest surprise. Stewartville had given up just one passing touchdown all season prior to Friday's game. Now that total is four. One of those Becker TD strikes came on the very first play of the second half. That was the 66-yarder, from Stanger to Meidt.
Suddenly, the Bulldogs had themselves a 21-7 lead. And there was no looking back.
Becker 34, Stewartville 14
S – Jordan Johnson 12 pass from Aaron Quandt (Connor Stenberg kick), 8:27. Drive: 5 plays, 22 yards, 1:35.
B – Alex Meidt 13 pass from Andrew Stanger ( Lucas Dertinger kick), 2:55. Drive: 3 plays, 88 yards, 1:27. Key play:Milan Kent 70 pass from Stanger.
B – Austin Rassmussen 78 pass interception (Dertinger kick), 1:25.
B – Meidt 66 pass from Stanger (Dertinger kick), 11:42. Drive: 1 play, 66 yards, :10.
B – Meidt 11 pass from Stanger (kick failed), 1:15. Drive:7 plays, 53 yards, 2:30.
B – Milan Kent 5 run (Dertinger kick), 3:36. Drive: 4 plays, 23 yards, 1:19. Key play:Meidt 13 run.
S – Jordan Johnson 2 run (Stenberg), 1:25. Drive: 8 plays, 60 yards, 2:03. Key play: Johnson 18 run.
Total net yards#300#302
Rushing — Stewartville, Jordan Johnson 31-167, Andrew Quandt 6-(minus 45), Lucas Scruggs 1-(minus2), Carter Sveen 1-12.. Becker, Gabe Dertinger 12-42, Milan Kent 3-14, Beau Pauly 4-0, , Andrew Stranger 2-(minus 11), Dillon Radunz 1-10.
Passing — Stewartville, Andrew Quandt 13 completions, 29 attempts, 3 interceptions, 1 touchdown, for 168 yards. Becker, Andrew Stranger 10 completions, 18 attempts, 1 interception, 3 touchdowns, for 232 yards.
Receiving — Stewartville, Chye Stecher 4-94, Tyler Reed 1-12, Johnson 4-21, Tanner Prochaska 2-18, Lucas Scruggs 1-23. Becker, Alex Meidt 3-105, Milan Kent 2-75, Pauly 1-8, Jake Fobbe 3-34.