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Goodhue turns the tables on Dover-Eyota, advances to section semifinals

Just 11 days after suffering a three-score loss at Dover-Eyota, Goodhue flipped the script Tuesday night, beating the Eagles 27-7 in a Section 1AAA quarterfinal football game.

Dover-Eyota vs. Goodhue Football
Goodhue quarterback Will Opsahl (2) throws a pass during a football game at Dover-Eyota on Friday, Oct. 14. Opsahl and the Wildcats returned to Dover-Eyota Tuesday and beat the Eagles 27-7 in a Section 1AA quarterfinal game.
Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin file photo
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EYOTA — What a difference 11 days makes.

That’s putting it mildly for the Goodhue football team. Eleven days ago, the Wildcats were looking for answers after a three-score defeat at Dover-Eyota (28-7).

After that game, something clicked.

It started last week in Chatfield. Five days after their loss to the Eagles, the Wildcats gave the defending state champion Gophers all they could handle in a tight Section 1 showdown, which ended in a narrow one-score loss; an eye-opening result. Six days after that, on Tuesday, the Wildcats kept their newfound momentum rolling, flipping the script on fourth-seeded Dover-Eyota to the tune of a three-score victory of their own.

Senior running back Malakye Parker galloped his way to a game-high 138 rushing yards and two scores, and fifth-seeded Goodhue turned in a 27-7 victory against the Eagles to punch its ticket to the section semifinals.

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Now, another quick rematch is right around the corner. It's just four days until another trip to Chatfield. Section semifinals. Everything on the line.

And the Wildcats are hot.

“We tend to play great in spurts throughout the season,” said Goodhue coach Tony Poncelet, whose team had dropped two straight entering Tuesday’s quarterfinal showdown. “I knew once we put four quarters together that this team is capable of a lot. I think we turned the corner a little bit against Chatfield, and tonight we were able to avenge an earlier loss.”

Goodhue’s is an offense that is known for its ability to air it out.

But Friday demanded a more balanced approach, Poncelet said. And that’s what his team executed against the Eagles.

Leading 14-7 at halftime, senior quarterback Will Opsahl, no stranger to games of 30 or more pass attempts, entered the break just 2 of 4 passing for 13 yards.

No worries.

Parker, meanwhile, ran wild.

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Last time out against the Eagles, he was bottled up for a 2.9 yards-per-carry average, just 58 yards on 20 attempts. On Tuesday, he took the fourth play of the game 41 yards to the house en route to his 138-yard night. His second touchdown, set up by an incredible block by senior Adam Poncelet, went for 20 late in the fourth quarter to put the game away.

Opsahl still got his in the end, of course, finishing 5-of-9 from the pocket for 123 yards and a touchdown. The QB found junior Gavin Schafer with a swing pass out to the flat on fourth-and-3 late in the third quarter, and Schafer took it from there for a 30-yard touchdown to stretch a 21-7 lead for the Wildcats.

“Our offensive line really stepped up tonight,” Parker said. “In practice, we were emphasizing our outside blocks because the last time we played this team, it wasn’t great. So we talked about that in practice all week and it really paid off.”

“Last time we were here, we didn’t establish the run game, and that was the No. 1 priority tonight,” Poncelet said, “because if you can’t establish the run, you’re not going to get anywhere. We had to come out and establish the run game, and we did that.”

The Eagles attempted to do the same.

They did so 11 days ago, with junior running back Landon Lehnertz piling up 143 yards on 26 carries that night. He managed a respectable 77 yards on 10 carries Tuesday, but his services, unfortunately for Dover-Eyota, were not available all game, as he was ruled out due to injury in the second half.

Still, the Eagles displayed an aerial attack, as well, which took center stage in the dying embers of the second quarter.

With 1:51 on the clock, junior quarterback Levi Williams reeled off an impressive stretch of 4-for-5 passing for 70 yards to spearhead an eight-play scoring drive. His final contribution to the effort was a dime to senior Brayden Swee, who hauled in a beauty of a 19-yard touchdown with a toe-tap in the back corner of the end zone between a pair of Goodhue defenders.

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That, however, was the extent of the Eagles’ scoring.

“We put the ball on the turf, and we didn’t tackle. That’s what it came down to,” said Dover-Eyota coach Jon Hauswald, whose team fumbled five times in the first 16 minutes of the game, losing two. “They’ve got good coaches, and they’ve got really good players. The adjustments they made were really smart. Credit goes to them, and it’s on us for not adjusting.

“It’s putting the ball on the turf early; maybe that’s jitters, maybe that’s execution. Chalk it up to whatever you want, but you have to take care of the ball against good teams. That’s something that didn’t happen 11 days ago. We took care of the ball and we tackled really well. Tonight, we weren’t so good in those two areas. To me that’s what it comes down to.”

Chatfield now looms for the Wildcats.

And it’s no secret. All of southeastern Minnesota saw that score last week, let’s be honest. It was 28-20. Goodhue led 14-7 at half.

Game on.

“We played well that night, but we didn’t play a perfect game,” Poncelet said. “We’ll make some adjustments, and Chatfield will do the same thing, of course. But we’re excited to play them.

“They’re one of the best teams in the state, and hey, let’s go play them.”

NOTES: Just as Shafer did in the third quarter, Adam Poncelet also converted a fourth-down attempt in the form of a touchdown. With time dwindling in the first quarter and the ball at the Eagles’ 4-yard line, Poncelet took a direct shotgun snap, nearly 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage, initially looking to pass. But with nobody open, Poncelet was forced to improvise, eventually sprinting to the far pylon for a 4-yard TD run to make it a two-score lead for the Wildcats. Poncelet finished the game with 77 total yards, 60 of which came through the air on three receptions. … Junior kicker Kaden Bigalk went 3-for-4 on point-after tries for the Wildcats. His final attempt rattled off the upright, with the game already well out of reach for Dover-Eyota. … Williams, who also chipped in 30 rushing yards on seven carries for the Eagles, completed 8 of 14 pass attempts for 99 yards. Junior wide receiver Tyler Holzer hauled in three of those completions for 51 yards, all of which led to first-down conversions on Dover-Eyota’s lone scoring drive.

GOODHUE 27, DOVER-EYOTA 7

G 14-0-7-6 — 27

DE 0-7-0-0 — 7

First quarter

G — Malakye Parker 41 run (Kasen Bigalk kick), 9:57.

G — Adam Poncelet 4 run (Bigalk kick), 1:24.

Second quarter

DE — Brayden Swee 19 pass from Levi Williams (Williams kick), 0:12.

Third quarter

G — Gavin Schafer 30 pass from Will Opsahl (Bigalk kick), 1:05.

Fourth quarter

G — Parker 20 run (kick failed), 7:41.

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: Goodhue — Parker 23-138, Poncelet 4-17, Grant Reed 4-17, Schafer 6-8, Team 1-minus 2; Dover-Eyota — Landon Lehnertz 10-77, Williams 7-30, Gavin Gust 6-11, Swee 3-15, Damon Bye 1-minus 7, Team 1-minus 6.

PASSING: Goodhue — Opsahl 5-9-0-123; Dover-Eyota — Williams 8-14-1-99.

RECEIVING: Goodhue — Schafer 2-63, Poncelet 3-60; Dover-Eyota — Tyler Holzer 3-51, Swee 2-22, Bye 1-13, Brock Hughes 1-9, Lehnertz 1-4.

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