Just more than 25 minutes prior to kickoff Friday night, Josh Buri sprinted from midfield to the end zone.
He didn't want to let his offensive linemen break their pre-game huddle without adding some words of encouragement.
"We already have a great bond," Buri said. "I’m close with every single one of those guys, but before every game I have to let them know, ‘you guys make me look good. I can’t do this without you.’
"They need to know how much I appreciate them."
Buri's bond with a relatively new group of linemen continued to grow against Rochester Lourdes at Rochester Regional Stadium.
The Tigers line — Ian Ross, Parker Theobald, Colten Baugh, Hayden Nelson and Noah Senjem — and tight ends Elton Myhre and Nick Mohs paved the way for another big game for Stewartville's standout junior running back.
Buri finished with 140 yards on 23 carries, and he scored both of his team's touchdowns as the Tigers rallied from a halftime deficit to beat No. 1-ranked Lourdes 15-13.
"We have a 24-hour rule; we’ll be happy with a win for 24 hours, but we can’t be satisfied," said Buri, who has 502 rushing yards and seven touchdowns through two games this season. "This wasn’t the state championship game. We go one game at a time and hopefully it’s all uphill from here, but this is a big boost for us."
Though still early in the season, the magnitude of a victory against its biggest rival — and the No. 1-ranked team in Class AAA — wasn't lost on the Tigers players or coaches.
"It is (a big one)," Tigers coach Garrett Mueller said. "We haven’t had a big win like this in a couple years. We’ve had successful teams the last few years, but since our state semifinal run in 2015, we probably haven’t had a signature win like this.
"We’ve lost first-round playoff games the last three years, so we want to make sure that when we get in those big moments, we can finish. It means a lot to get this one."
Lourdes scored the only points of the first half on the first drive of the game, methodically marching 65 yards in 10 plays and 5 minutes, 13 seconds. Destin Hinson (19 carries, 79 yards) capped the drive with a 15-yard TD run and a 6-0 lead.
The Lourdes defense contained Buri — who has been contacted in the past week by a handful of Division I colleges, including more than one Big Ten school — in the first half, limiting him to 27 yards on seven carries.
But Buri broke through on the first play of the third quarter, breaking loose for a 69-yard run to the Lourdes 3-yard line. Three plays later, he bulled into the end zone from 2 yards out, then added the two-point conversion to give his team the lead for good.
"Coming out of halftime, we knew we had to get the ball in his hands," Mueller said. "We did a good job moving the ball in the first half, it was just some penalties and a few mistakes, so we felt good about the way we were moving the ball, but we just hadn’t got Josh going, so we knew we had to get him some carries early in the second half and we saw him do his thing there on the first play. That really set the tone for us."
Stewartville, which received votes in this week's Class AAA state poll and will almost certainly appear in next week's top 10, extended its lead to 15-6 just 1:25 into the fourth quarter when Buri scored on a 1-yard run to cap a drive that started at Lourdes' 24-yard line after an Eagles fumble.
Lourdes didn't go away, though. On the ensuing possession, the Eagles drove 67 yards in 14 plays and pulled within 15-13 when QB Nolan Jurgenson plunged in from 2 yards out.
The Eagles then forced a punt and took over on their own 29 with 2:20 to go. They drove to midfield, but Stewartville's Will Laures intercepted a pass over the middle of the field with 1:19 remaining to seal the victory.
"It was a great game," Lourdes coach Mike Kesler said. "Give Stewartville the credit. It's about time we had a good, close game against them. They obviously made a few more plays than us, but what a great high school football game.
"We had a few opportunities in the first half that we didn't capitalize on and that (Buri 69-yard run) at the start of the second haf was a huge play, it switched the momentum."
Stewartville (2-0) hosts Plainview-Elgin-Millville on Friday, while Lourdes (1-1) hosts Lake City.
"I'm extremely proud of our guys," Kesler said. "We don't like the taste in our mouths, but we'll get back to work right away for next week."
NOTES: Stewartville forced three Lourdes turnovers, while the Tigers committed just one turnover. ... The game was as evenly played as the score indicates. Lourdes outgained the Tigers 203-192 and held a close edge in time of possession, 24:29-23:31. ... Stewartville's defense limited Lourdes to 64 total yards on the Eagles' five drives between their two TD drives. ... Both punters helped win the field position battle for their teams during the game. Buri dropped a perfect 38-yard punt at the Lourdes' 1-yard line early in the second quarter. Lourdes' Trevor Greguson responded by flipping the field a few minutes later with a 58-yarder to the Tigers' 36-yard line.
STEWARTVILLE 15, LOURDES 13
Stewartville 0 0 8 7 — 15
Lourdes 6 0 0 7 — 13
LOURDES — Destin Hinson 15 run (kick failed) 6:47.
STEW — Josh Buri 2 run (Buri run) 10:10.
STEW — Buri 1 run (Kate Pedelty kick) 10:35.
LOURDES — Nolan Jurgenson 2 run (Julio Roman kick) 4:46.
First Downs 11 15
Total Net Yards 192 203
Rushes-yards 29-141 46-195
Passing yards 51 8
Comp.-att.-int. 8-11-0 1-4-1
Fumbles-lost 1-1 2-2
Penalties-yards 6-40 5-21
Punts-avg. 4-37.0 2-44.5
Time of Possession 23:31 24:29
STEW— Josh Buri 23 att., 140 yards, 2 TDs; Zane Stier 1-9; Elton Myhre 1-(minus-1); Will Tschetter 4-(minus-7). LOURDES — Destin Hinson 19-79, 1 TD; Nolan Jurgenson 14-32, 1 TD; Will Kopischke 9-48; Seth Haight 2-18; Graham Hopkins 2-18.
STEW — Will Tschetter 8 comp.-11 att.-0 int., 51 yards. LOURDES — Nolan Jurgenson 1-4-1, 8 yards.
STEW — Elton Myhre 3-30; Chuck Winch 2-11; Zane Stier 1-5; Nolan Stier 1-3; Josh Buri 1-2. LOURDES — Will Kopischke 1-8.