Lourdes rallies for state tournament berth
KASSON — Rochester Lourdes won its sixth Section One, Class AAA championship in nine years Saturday night with a 29-15 victory over Cannon Falls.
But it wasn't easy.
The game was tied at 7-7 at the half and Lourdes did not have control of the game until late in the fourth quarter.
"We knew it wasn't going to be easy,'' said Lourdes coach Mike Kesler. "Give Cannon Falls credit. They beat the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds to get here and no team in the state did that.''
Lourdes will take a 9-1 record into a Class AAA state quarterfinal against 8-2 Fairmont at 7 p.m. Friday at Burnsville High School.
Fairmont defeated Belle Plaine 26-0 Friday night for the Section 3AAA championship.
Lourdes had defeated Cannon Falls 40-20 in the seventh game of the regular season on Oct. 20. In that game, the Bombers' Jordan Lundell returned the opening kickoff 81 yards for a quick, go-ahead touchdown.
Saturday night, the Bombers also scored the first TD. It came on a recovered fumble in the end zone by Tyler Melhouse and came at the 5:56 mark of the first quarter.
Lourdes scored with 55 seconds left in the first quarter on a 55-yard pass from quarterback Michael Brandt to a wide-open James Ustby.
Lourdes leading rusher Kane Carstens was held in check in the first half, gaining only 31 yards on 12 attempts but he ended up with 142 yards on 20 carries, including a 50-yard TD with 4:27 left to put the game away.
Cannon Falls, the seventh seed, finished with a 4-7 record. The Bombers lost their last five regular-season games before upsetting Tri-City United and Plainview-Elgin-Millville in the section tournament.
"I can't say enough how proud I am of the kids to make this run,'' said Cannon Falls coach Josh Hofstedt. "We did some good things tonight but couldn't finish off drives and we were also hurt by a few costly penalties.
"This year was a big step for our program. This is the first time in school history that we played in back-to-back section championship games and that is something to build on.''
Last year the Bombers lost to St. Croix Lutheran in the Section 4AAA championship.