Lourdes keeps high-flying Tigers in check

STEWARTVILLE — Stewartville scored the first six points of the game and Stewartville scored the final seven points of the game.

STEWARTVILLE — Stewartville scored the first six points of the game and Stewartville scored the final seven points of the game.

For the Tigers, that was the good news.

The not-so-good news was that Rochester Lourdes scored everything in between, 32 to be exact. That meant a 32-14 Lourdes win on a cool and very windy Friday night, ruining the Tigers' homecoming at Schaefer Field, and shooting the Eagles to the top of the Southern Football Alliance Red Division lead.

"Tonight, we just played Lourdes football,'' said sophomore Mason Carstens, who rushed for a career-best 156 yards and a pair of touchdowns, "and by that we were flying to the ball and making the plays. When we do that, we can be tough.''

On paper, the showdown between the two unbeaten conference heavyweights figured to be much closer.


"When you make the mistakes we did,'' said Stewartville coach Aaron Meyer, "and against a team like Lourdes, this is what happens. I, too, thought it would be closer but we needed to play much better than we did.

"But we still have a lot of football left in the season and the mistakes we made can be corrected.''

What it means is that Lourdes takes control of the SFA Red with a 5-0 record. Last year, Stewartville, Lourdes and Kasson-Mantorville all tied for the conference championship, each team losing just one game.

And last year, Stewartville handed Lourdes its only regular-season defeat, 27-21 in overtime.

"It puts us in a pretty good position,'' said Lourdes coach Mike Kesler. "Playing Plainview-Elgin-Millville and Stewartville back-to-back the last two weeks and getting through that, we are very pleased.

"We hit on all three phases of the game, offense, defense and special teams.''

Scored on opening drive

Stewartville took the opening kickoff 80 yards in 10 plays, showing flashes of the team which averaged 48 points and 476 yards entering the game.


"It was important that we answered that touchdown,'' Kesler said.

The Eagles did, two possessions later, going 63 yards in seven plays. That came after a short (20-yard) Stewartville punt into the wind.

Two possessions later with the score tied at 6-6, Stewartville was at the Lourdes but fumbled, with Zach Hillman recovering.

Turning point?

The Eagles scored on a seven-minute, time-consuming 11 play, 60-yard drive to take the lead for good.

"A big play,'' said Meyer. "It gave them the halftime lead and momentum. Last week against Plainview, we noticed that Lourdes scored four touchdowns following turnovers. And they did it again tonight.

"Always, always, always, you can't turn the ball over against a good team like Lourdes. We also had four, 15-yard penalties which gave them first downs. You just know they're going to take advantage of your mistakes.''

Lourdes is now a plus seven (12-5) in the turnover/takeaway department.


"To our credit, we have taken advantage of most of them,'' said Kesler, who was really encouraged with the way his team played defense in the second half.

"We didn't start out the way I would have liked,'' he said, "but the second half I was real happy with the way we played. Our lines up front both on offense and defense, played great and that's where it all starts.''

Lourdes took the second-half kickoff and marched 75 yards in seven plays, with Carstens scoring on a 34-yard run. Then came another key play.

The Tigers faced a fourth-and-nine from their own 44 when Lourdes 5-9, 170-pound senior Aaron Van Galder blocked a punt.

"We felt all week there was an opportunity to block a punt,'' Kesler said, "and then they had a high snap and the kids executed.''

Four plays later Zach Hillman scored and the lead ballooned to 25-6 and the way Lourdes was playing defense, the game was over.

"To hold a team like Stewartville to basically six points is outstanding defense,'' said Kesler. "Against a team with that much firepower, it was our best defensive performance of the year.''

The Tigers were held to "just'' 307 yards, their lowest output of the year. Senior quarterback Aaron Quandt was 24 of 40 for 243 yards.


"Our goal was to throw off the timing on their routes,'' said Kesler, "and we were able to do that. A majority of the teams play man-to-man against them and the majority of the time we play zone. We were able to mix that up and keep them off balance.

"But don't forget, they have a very good running game, too, and we were able to keep that in check. And then we had a couple of long drives which kept their offense off the field. That was another key.''

The Stewartville coach said all is not lost.

"There is a lot of football left to be played,'' he said.

• Stewartville senior wide receiver Collin Fanton was carted off the field in a stretcher to an ambulance after catching a pass and hitting his head with 2:48 left in the game.

"I think he's going to be all right,'' said Meyer. "He was joking and in good spirits. We're just being cautious.''

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