CROSBY — It went from bad to worse.
And kept getting worse for top-seeded Crosby-Ironton, which was eliminated by No. 4 seeded Upsala/Swanville Area (USA) 45-14 in Saturday’s Section 6-2A semifinal.
On the game’s third play, USA’s Mitch Lange burst through the line of scrimmage and stole the ball from C-I’s quarterback Jacob Leonhardt, who was attempting to pass. Lange ran 26-yards the other direction for his first of five touchdowns.
His second score came on USA’s first offensive possession, which covered 61 yards on nine plays. It was highlighted by a 37-yard pass from Eric Frieler to Austin Mollner and capped off by Lange’s 2-yard plunge. Lange finished with 168 yards on 26 carries.
The Patriots scored on their next possession for a 19-0 first quarter lead.
C-I’s Caleb Baker hauled in a 25-yard pass from Leonhardt and Brady Tesdahl caught the two-point conversion to make it 19-8, but then the injuries piled up.
First it was sophomore back Daniel Hudrlik with a knee. Dylan Wasserzieher, who recovered a fumbled punt return to set up C-I’s first touchdown, left with an injury as did linebacker Jared Bundy. Down two of its three running backs, C-I was held to 84 yards of offense on 47 plays.
“They were fast and when you lose what we lost right away, holy cow,” said Rangers head coach Mike Gindorff. “We didn’t adjust very well to the injuries. We had to start putting some young kids in. We moved some kids into new positions on the fly and they picked it up. We held as long as we could. When you lose that much fire power, there isn’t much you can do.”
Lange scored again before halftime for a 15-8 USA halftime lead. He scored on runs of 9 and 22 yards in the second half and Mollner added a 4-yard touchdown run for USA in the second half.
The Patriots (9-1) used an up-tempo, no-huddle offense and a noticeable advantage in team speed to amass 348 yards of offense on 60 plays.
“We were trying to get them to go to the air a little bit and we had sold out on the man coverage,” Gindorff said. “But then we lost Hudrlik (free safety) and Wasserzieher (linebacker) and Bundy (linebacker), that changed our defensive game plan quite a bit. We just couldn’t handle that.”
Baker caught two passes for 29 yards and Zack Olander carried the ball 13 times for 40 yards to lead the Rangers’ offense. Sophomore Taylor Woods returned a punt 70 yards in the third quarter for C-I’s final score.
“It was a great year,” said Gindorff. “We had great senior leadership and it’s disappointing to end like that.”
Upsala/Swanville 19 6 13 7 — 45
Crosby-Ironton 0 8 6 0 — 14
USA-Mitch Lange 26 fumble recovery (Brock Cichon kick) 10:33
USA-Lange 2 run (run failed) 6:13
USA-Eric Frieler 1 run (Pass failed) 1:04
CI-Caleb Baker 25 pass from Jacob Leonhardt (Brady Tesdahl pass from Leonhardt) 7:58
USA-Lange 2 run (kick failed) 2:02
USA-Lange 9 run (kick failed) 8:50
USA-Austin Mollner 2 run (Kick failed) 5:29
CI-Taylor Woods 70 punt return (run failed) 1:07
USA-Lange 33 run (Cichon kick) 6:13
Rushes-yards: CI 35-55; USA 52-276
Pass comp-att-int-yds: CI 2-12-0-29; USA 5-8-0-70
Total offense: CI 47-84; USA 60-348
Rushing: CI-Dylan Wasserzieher 5-15, Zack Olander 13-40, Daniel Hudrlik 5-9, Jacob Leonhardt 1-(-10), David Kuhlmann 3-2, Nate Jaskowiak 3-(-20), Joe Sura 3-23, team 2-(-6); Mitch Lange 26-168, Eric Frieler 8-31, Austin Mollner 12-59, Brock Cichon 3-14, Tren Dinius 2-12, team 1-(-6)
Passing: CI-Leonhardt 2-10-29, Jaskowiak 0-2-0; USA-0Frieler 5-7-70, Tyler Evans 0-1-0
Receiving: CI-Caleb Baker 2-29; USA-Mollner 1-37, Dinius 1-6, Cichon 1-7, Garrett Wolf 2-20