Lourdes has had a lot of tough games this season, so the Eagles reveled in Friday's 42-0 win over Zumbrota-Mazeppa at Rochester Regional Stadium.
The victory came on Senior Night as Lourdes, which has played three ranked teams this season, improved to 2-5 both overall and in the Southeast District. Z-M drops to 1-6 overall and in district play.
“The energy was great out here and keeping the train moving was great,” Lourdes senior running back/linebacker Noah Wieneke said.
“It feels great to win as a team,” Lourdes senior running back/linebacker Abe Gapinski added. “After facing so much adversity and losing some heartbreakers, it just feels so good to get a win together.”
The Eagles set the tone early as the defense got a three-and-out to start the game. The special team then had a partially blocked punt which set up a short drive which quarterback Luke Bilger capped with a 2-yard touchdown run.
“What’s great about that is we were able to capitalize,” Kessler said. “That was critical; for the most part of the year we haven’t been able to capitalize on those.
Lourdes scored on its first three possessions of the game, all in the first quarter, to bolt to a 21-0 lead. Gapinski capped a 77-yard drive with a 6-yard run to make the score 14-0 and Cameron Powell then intercepted a pass to set up Bigler's second short TD run of the quarter.
“We came out of the gate right away and played well in all three phases,” Kessler said. “It was great to play a complete game. That’s what I’m most excited about.”
Lourdes rushed for 223 yards in the game and had four players rush for TDs, and five run for between 24 and 80 yards. Gapinski had the high rushing total.
“It’s a great thing to have so many guys producing on offense,” Gapinski said. “It feels good to have a lot of guys who can do good things with the ball.”
Braden Mlenar, who split time at QB with Bigler, was 3-for-4 passing for 75 yards, including a 17-yard scoring strike to Brendan Davick right before the half.
The Eagles also had a big game on defense as they held Z-M to just 126 yards and forced three turnovers.
“Our D-line got a good push so we have to give it to the D-line for that,” Wieneke said.
Gapinski said all the big plays helped the Eagles keep their energy level high in the contest.
“I think it was the excitement after plays,” Gapinski said. “We were all celebrating and cheering each other on. I think that gave us energy to get the win.”
The Lourdes defense had three fourth-down stops during the game. Carter Wenszell stopped one fourth-and-2 play with a tackle for loss while Eli Haight intercepted a pass to stop another drive. Haight also recovered a fumble to set up a 6-yard Lourdes TD drive in the third quarter.
“The defense needs to continue to play well as we move on,” Kessler said. “I’m just happy for our seniors and we have to keep the momentum going.”
After playing in some tough games this season, the Eagles believe they are ready for a strong postseason push.
“We got a taste of this momentum and we just have to keep going now,” Wieneke said. “We just have to keep our energy high and keep believing in each other.”
Lourdes will play at Pine Island on Wednesday in the regular-season finale. That game will likely determine the No. 4 and 5 seeds in the upcoming Section 1AAA playoffs, with the Eagles and Panthers also likely to meet in the section quarterfinals. The final game of the regular season, on a short week, will mark team’s playing three games in 10 or 11 days.
“It’s tough for everybody, but that’s Minnesota high school football,” Kessler said.
LOURDES 42, ZUMBROTA-MAZPPA 0
Zumbrota-Mazeppa 0-0-0-0 — 0
Lourdes 21-7-7-7 — 42
Lour — Luke Bigler 2 run (Aidan Jahns kick), 8:33.
Lour — Abe Gapinski 8 run (Jahns kick), 3:00.
Lour — Luke Bigler 1 run (Jahns kick), 0:43.
Lour — Brendan Davick 17 pass from Braden Mlenar (Jahns kick), 0:25.
Lour — Seth Haight 2 run (Jahns kick), 1:35.
Lour — Trevor Heindel 6 run (Jahns kick), 7:14.
Z-M — Lourdes
First downs 8 — 15
Total net yards 126 — 298
Rushes-yards 27-112 — 44-223
Passing yards 14 — 75
Comp.-att.-int. 5-18-2 — 4-5-0
Fumbles-lost 1-1 — 3-2
Penalties-yds. 3-30 — 6-75
Punts-avg. 4-27.1 — 2-34
Z-M — Brady Befort 11-88, Tre Hamilton 11-29, Connor Preston 4-22, Zane Angerman 1-(-27). Lourdes — Abe Gapinski 13-80, Braden Mlenar 7-45, Seth Haight 7-36, Luke Bigler 7-30, Trevor Heindel 4-24, Eli Haight 2-6, Noah Wieneke 2-4, Anthony Roberts 2-(-2).
Z-M — Zane Angerman 5 comp.-18 att.-2 int., 14 yards. Lourdes — Braden Mlenar 3-4-0, 75 yards, 1 TD; Luke Bigler 1-1-0, 16 yards.
Z-M — Conner Preston 2-13, Egan Ladewig 2-3, Tre Hamilton 1-(-2). Lourdes — Sam Stanley 3-58, Brendan Davick 1-17.