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Hard and fast-running Hutchinson ends KoMets' dream

Kasson-Mantorville ran into an impossible-to-stop running attack owned by Hutchinson as it fell in the Class AAAA state championship game.

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Hutchinson quarterback Colin Nagel (12) runs in for a two-point conversion during the Class AAAA state football championship game against Kasson-Mantorville on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Andrew Link / Post Bulletin
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MINNEAPOLIS — The Hutchinson football team has been described as a running "machine" by many.

Now go ahead and count Kasson-Mantorville among the many.

The KoMets were firsthand witnesses to the Tigers' rushing exploits on Friday as Hutchinson ran over and past the K-M defense en route to a 42-14 win in the Class AAAA Prep Bowl final at U.S. Bank Stadium.

ALSO SEE: Photos: Kasson-Mantorville, Hutchinson football Class AAAA state championship
K-M was playing in its first-ever state football championship.

"They were fast and they were physical," K-M coach Joel Swanson said. "We've maybe seen one team as big as they were all season. Plus, they were even quicker than we thought. "

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Kasson-Mantorville entered the contest 9-3 and ranked ninth in the state. It was coming off a dazzling comeback win over No. 1-ranked Becker in the state semifinals. That was enough to give the KoMets ample hope against No. 2-Hutchinson, whose only loss this season happened to be against Becker.

But credit Hutchinson for removing so much of that hope by halftime and for taking it virtually all away just one possession into the second half.

Any hope that the final 24 minutes would somehow be different for K-M was immediately squashed. Hutchinson took the ball 65 yards on nine plays to start the third quarter, its drive ending with a 2-yard plunge into the end zone.

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Hutchinson running back Andrew Ladwig (9) is swarmed by Kasson-Mantorville defenders on a run during the Class AAAA state football championship game Friday, Nov. 26, 2021, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Andrew Link / Post Bulletin

That left the Tigers in complete command, leading 36-7.

The Tigers did all of that behind a running attack that simply couldn't be stopped and continually found success running around both ends.

Hutchinson longtime coach Andy Rostberg had rarely seen his team play better. He's been watching it edge toward greatness the second half of the season.

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"We'd been talking about believing and not letting doubt creep into our minds since the opening of the season," Rostberg said. "But early on, we were not the same team as we were tonight. We had a lot of kids switch positions as the season went along. We found the positions that they could have the most success."

Hutchinson, which had four players finish with at least 77 yards rushing led by Mitchell Piehl with 128 on five carries and Alex Elliot with 125 yards on 15 carries, totaled 423 rushing yards overall. That included 289 in the first half.

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Kasson-Mantorville quarterback Matthew Donovan (4) looks for room to run during the Class AAAA state football championship game against Hutchinson on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Andrew Link / Post Bulletin

Neither team turned much to the pass. K-M quarterback Matthew Donovan threw it just seven times, while Hutchinson quarterback Colin Nagel tried just two passes, completing both.

"We couldn't just focus on one guy," Swanson said of the Tigers' running game. "We couldn't neutralize them. They are a well-rounded team. They are 'run-first' and that really suits their nature."

K-M has been a load to stop offensively itself all season, led by the maestro abilities of option quarterback Donovan. It was able to move the ball in this state championship game, too.

Donovan finished with 101 yards rushing and halfback Anthony Moe-Tucker was his usual productive self, with 85 rushing yards. The problem, though, was its inability to convert scores despite a bunch of forays deep into Hutchinson territory.

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Four times, the KoMets looked like they were deep enough to score in the first half, yet only once then did they come away with points. That touchdown was supplied by Donovan with the quick and elusive quarterback using an explosive change-of-direction move as he sprinted in from 30 yards with 7:27 left in the second quarter. That narrowed the KoMets' deficit to 20-7.

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Kasson-Mantorville running back Broc Barwald is tackled on a run during the Class AAAA state football championship game against Hutchinson on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Andrew Link / Post Bulletin

But if K-M had any hopes of sticking close in this game, it was going to need to match Hutchinson's efficient and productive offense.

It couldn't do it.

For that, K-M linebacker Kellen Wilke gave all of the credit to the Tigers.

"They were fast and they were physical," Wilke said. "They did to us what I imagine we did to teams all season."

Hutchinson 42, Kasson-Mantorville 14

Kasson-Mantorville 0 7 7 0 — 14

Hutchinson 6 22 8 6 — 42

First quarter

Hutch — Alex Elliot 40 pass (pass failed), 4:52.

Second Quarter

Hutch — Andrew Ladwig 2 run (Colin Nagel run), 11:57

Hutch — Mitchell Piehl 90 run (pass failed), 10:47.

KM —Matthew Donovan 30 run (AJ Donovan kick), 7:27.

Hutch — Elliot 12 run (Nagel run), 0:53.

Third Quarter

Hutch — Ladwig 2 run (Nagel run), 7:47.

KM —Anthony Moe-Tucker 14 run (AJ Donovan kick), 4:39.

Fourth Quarter

Hutch — Nagel 2 run (pass failed), 5:08.

TEAM TOTALS

KM HUTCH

First downs 17 — 23

Total Net Yards 255 — 453

Rushes-Yards 44-228 — 55-423

Passing Yards 27 — 30

Comp.-Att.-Int. 2-7-1 — 2-3-1

Fumbles-Lost 2-7-1 — 2-3-1

Penalties-Yds. 4-28 — 5-42

Punts-Avg. 1-39 — 0-0

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing

Kasson-Mantorville — Matthew Donovan 23-101, Anthony Moe-Tucker 16-85, Brooks Buchanan 2-14, Evan Snow 1-14, Broc Barwald 1-9, Michael Hoff 1-5. Hutchinson — Levi Teetzel 5-11, AJ Ladwig 17-77, Colin Nagel 12-84, Alex Elliot 15-125, Mitchell Piehl 5-128.

Passing

Kasson-Mantorville — Donovan 2 completions, 7 attempts, 0 touchdown, 1 interception, 27 yards. Hutchinson — Nagel 2-2-0-0, for 21 yards.; Sam Rensch 0-1-0-1 for 0 yards.

Receiving

Kasson-Mantorville — Aidan Smith 2-27. Hutchinson -- Sam Rensch 1-21, Charles Renner 1-9.

Related Topics: FOOTBALLKASSON-MANTORVILLE
Pat has been a Post Bulletin sports reporter since 1994. He covers Rochester John Marshall football, as well as a variety of other southeastern Minnesota football teams. Among my other southeastern Minnesota high school beats are girls basketball, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls track and field, high school and American Legion baseball, volleyball, University of Minnesota sports (on occasion) and the Timberwolves (on occasion). Readers can reach Pat at 507-285-7723 or pruff@postbulletin.com.
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