CROSBY — Once.
That many times the No. 8-seeded Long Prairie-Grey Eagle Thunder stopped top-seeded Crosby-Ironton during the Rangers’ 54-20 Section 6-2A quarterfinal victory Tuesday night at John Davies Field.
One time and that happened because of a fumble on a short kickoff. In fact, the Rangers had just two offensive possessions in the first half and scored on both. One big reason for that was a 71-yard punt return and a 79-yard kickoff return by C-I’s Daniel Hudrlik.
When the Rangers did have the ball, they were a model of efficiency. On its first possession, C-I ran off 11 plays for 61 yards and six minutes off the clock. The opening drive was capped off by Zack Olander’s 1-yard touchdown run.
C-I closed out the first half with a six-play, 65-yard drive, highlighted by Jacob Leonhardt’s 40-yard pass to Daniel Hudrlik. That pass play set up Leonhardt’s 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brady Tesdahl and a 32-14 halftime lead.
“They were really keying on Daniel Hudrlik, our other receiver, a lot,” said Tesdahl. “So our offensive coordinator (Jeremy Koop) really came up with a good play for me to go right up the seam because it was wide open and Jacob delivered a great ball.”
Leonhardt capped off C-I’s first possession of the second half as he danced into the end zone on a 5-yard run. That drive covered just 40 yards, but took 11 plays, and much of the third quarter, to complete. After a Tesdahl interception gave the Rangers the ball back, C-I concluded a 5-play, 46-yard drive with Olander’s second touchdown.
“We just wanted to work and show our section that we are a contender for state,” said Brady Tesdahl. “We want to put that first state banner up in our gym.”
Olander finished with just 52 yards because he only carried the ball 12 times. Dylan Wasserzieher led the Rangers with 82 yards rushing on just 11 carries. C-I snapped the ball 35 times and racked up only 254 yards of offense compared to 244 yards and 40 plays for the losing Thunder.
Leonhardt was 2-for-2 passing for 54 yards, but was also 3-3 on 2-point conversions. The Rangers, as a team, were 6-of-7 on their conversions. The one miss was by the junior varsity offense after sophomore running back Kaleb Dugan finished C-I’s scoring with a 9-yard touchdown run.
The Thunder did get a score in the second quarter as they took to the air. Thunder quarterback Tommy Geisenhof was 3-of-5 for 31 yards on LP-GE’s first scoring drive. After C-I’s fumbled kick return, Geisenhof hit Alex Lemke on a 36-yard reception. One play later, the Thunder were in the end zone again, just 35 seconds after their first touchdown.
“They pass-protected better than we anticipated,” said Ranger head coach Mike Gindorff. “We weren’t able to get to the quarterback on some of our stunts and blitzes and things like that. In the first half, we were pretty much straight man. Then in the second half we went zone and that was the end of that. We started getting pressure and we were able to stop them.”
Hudrlik then righted things with his kick return for a touchdown and LP-GE never threatened again until a late touchdown in the fourth quarter by its JV offense.
“I think it actually hurt us not to have any offense in that first half,” said Gindorff. “You return two kicks for touchdowns and we kind of went into almost a glide mode, where we were just kind of went through the motions. It affected us on defense a lot.
“We were tight to come out with. They were feeling the pressure of being the No. 1 seed and at halftime we just talked about going out and having some fun and we went out and executed.”
Long Prairie-GE 0 14 0 6 — 20
Crosby-Ironton 16 16 8 14 — 54
CI-Zack Olander 1 run (Brady Tesdahl pass from Jacob Leonhardt) 6:18
CI-Daniel Hudrlik 71 punt return (Tesdahl from Leonhardt) 2:12
LPGE-John Dinkel 5 pass from Tommy Geisenhof (Dinkel from Geisenhof) 5:55
LPGE-Cody Kilfoyle-Steward 3 run (run failed) 5:20
CI-Hudrlik 79 kickoff return (Olander run) 5:07
CI-Tesdahl 14 pass from Leonhardt (Hudrlik run) 43.2
CI-Leonhardt 5 run (Hudrlik run) 2:01
CI-Olander 6 run (Caleb Baker pass from Leonhardt) 11:12
CI-Kaleb Dugan 9 run (pass failed) 7:41
Rushes-yards: CI 35-203, LPGE 40-172
Pass comp-att-int-yds: CI 2-2-0-54, LPGE 6-11-1-72
Total offense: CI 37-257, LPGE 51-244
Rushing: CI-Zack Olander 12-52, Dylan Wasserzieher 11-82, Daniel Hudrlik 6-37, Jacob Leonhardt 2-4, Joe Sura 1-9, Kaleb Dugan 3-16; LPGE-Preston Pung 11-61, Cody Kilfoyle-Steward 12-31, Alex Lemke 4-10, Tommy Geisenhof 3-9, Gabe Junkin 5-19, Jack Mechels 2-9, Noah Urman 3-35
Passing: CI-Leonhardt 2-2-54; LPGE-Geisenhof 6-9-72, Pung 0-1-0, Urman 0-1-0
Receiving: CI-Hudrlik 1-40, Brady Tesdahl 1-14; LPGE-John Dinkel 2-15, Lemke 1-36, Steward 2-5, Derek Eberle 1-15