Faribault tops Red Wing in section title game

Faribault tops Red Wing in section title game
The Red Wing sidelines are somber in the waning minutes of the team's 21 to 14 loss to Faribault in the Section 1AAAA football championship game Friday, November 4, 2011 at Bruce Smith Field in Faribault.

FARIBAULT, Minn. — Something had to give in Friday's Section 1, Class AAAA title game as two long streaks of futility were on the line.

Unfortunately for Red Wing, a questionable penalty took a touchdown off the board in the closing minutes and allowed top-seeded Faribault to escape with a hotly contested 28-21 victory at Bruce Smith Field.

The Falcons' victory yanks a 300-pound gorilla off the program's back. Faribault has lost five section title games since the last time the Wingers played in one — 2001 — and it had never qualified for state. The whole student body joined Faribault on the field to celebrate Friday's

win, while tears of bitter disappointment were shed by nearly everyone on the other side of the field.

The play in question occurred after Faribault running back Riley Jandro scored with 7:56 remaining in the fourth quarter to put his team ahead 28-21. Red Wing quarterback Joel Newman opened the ensuing drive with a 43-yard strike to Jack Strusz and the critical call came four plays



Newman found tight end Dayton Johnson open in the flat in front of The Red Wing sideline. He broke a tackle and appeared to score a 26-yard touchdown that would have tied the score. Instead, senior receiver Matthew Petterson — the leading receiver in the Missota Conference this

season — was whistled for clipping on the play.

Though Red Wing recovered from that penalty to get a first down inside the red zone, Faribault's defense rose to the occasion on the second chance to preserve the lead. Jandro's monster performance included running out the final 3:45 virtually by himself, leaving the Wingers to

wonder "What if?"

"Matthew turned around, thought he had his side," said Red Wing coach Matt Schultz, who chose the diplomatic route. "It's tough to tell (if it was a clip). Six of one, half a dozen of another. We'll have to watch film. …(But) I like us in overtime. Shoot."

Added Newman: "That's a really tough play. It could have gone either way. …It's unfortunate that call was made, but you can't change it now." 

The finish spoiled what had been a remarkably entertaining final game in a turnaround season for the Wingers, who ended a 22-game losing streak just last fall.


After Jandro scored the first of his two touchdowns on the game's opening drive, a Red Wing punt bounced off a Faribault player and Winger senior Mike Stegora hopped on the loose ball. Newman converted that opportunity into a 3-yard touchdown run that tied the score.

Falcons senior running back Mat Becker scored the first of his two scores to give his team a lead, and an interception from teammate Brett Grossman nearly turned the game into a rout. However, the Winger defense made a critical stop inside its own 5-yard line to keep it a one-possession


Newman then put together the best drive of his three-year career. He converted 8 of 9 passes for 102 yards — not a typo — to lead his team on a 97-yard touchdown drive. He connected with Strusz with 14 seconds left in the half to claim a 14-13 lead.

"How often do you see that?" Schultz asked. "Not often in a high school football game."

Faribault did not throw a pass in the second half while rolling up 309 total yards of offense — the first time a Winger opponent has hit 300 this season. Jandro finished with 37 carries for 221 yards — both season highs — two touchdowns and a two-point conversion run.

"He was just a north-and-south runner," said Red Wing linebacker Marcus Noesen, who also converted three extra points. "We just tackled too high. We had to gang tackle him."

Schultz added: "That number 33 is a stud. He keeps his feet moving. We'd have three or four guys on him and he still keeps going."


Red Wing actually finished with more yards (324-309) and first downs (15-13) than Faribault, but penalties were a huge factor. The Wingers had five for 55 yards and Faribault was whistled for just two — though one led directly to a Winger touchdown.

A Newman scramble on fourth-and-7 late in the third quarter left him about 5 yards short of the sticks, but a Faribault defense back blasted him out of bounds for a penalty. Newman scored on a 10-yard run two plays later to pull even at 21-21 and set up the furious finish.

"We battled all night, we just came up a little short," said Newman, who passed for 220 yards and rushed for 53 more. "We have to admire how far we've come. It's just been a blast." 

After posting just five wins in the previous five seasons combined, Red Wing ends the 2011 season with a 7-4 record. Noesen said he felt the group of 20 seniors, who were freshmen when Schultz took over, helped get the program back on track. Schultz called them "a special group."

"There probably (weren't) many people in the state who thought we'd win a game this year," Schultz said. "To be playing for a section championship says a lot about their heart."

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