STAPLES -- The Staples-Motley Cardinals had two goals in Saturday's Section 6, Class 3A semifinal against the third-seeded Albany Huskies.
They accomplished one.
The first goal for the second-seeded Cardinals (7-3 overall) was to beat the Huskies and advance to the section finals. That didn't happen as the Huskies used four turnovers and a big-play offense, to defeat S-M 35-20.
Albany fullback Curt Grabmeier rushed for 136 yards and two touchdowns, the second a 40-yard burst in the fourth quarter that secured the win.
It wasn't easy for the Huskies (8-2). After Grabmeier's first touchdown gave Albany a quick 7-0 lead on its first possession, the Cardinals stormed back with a 9-play, 64-yard drive, capped by an Izaak Schafer 15-yard touchdown reception from Adam Johnson. The Cardinals' quarterback finished 13-of-35 for 251 yards and three touchdowns.
Johnson's second score was a 43-yard toss that floated over the Albany secondary to Tyler Frisk to give S-M a 14-7 first-quarter lead.
Frisk, who intercepted a Matt Meyer pass, giving S-M the ball back after a fumble, set up the scoring play with a 31-yard run to the Albany 43.
In the second quarter, Albany rattled off an 8-play, 63-yard drive to tie the game 14-14. On its next possession, Albany went 53 yards on nine plays for a 22-14 halftime lead.
Meyer connected with Josh Harrison to finish a 13-play, 55-yard drive to begin the third quarter. On the drive, the Huskies had fourth and five at the Cardinals' 15, but a 9-yard Aaron Kleinschmidt reception kept the drive alive. A holding penalty pushed Albany back to the S-M 14. On third and goal, Meyer found Harrison for the touchdown.
"It was the pass that hurt us," said Cardinals coach Ryan Beachy. "We put a little bit of pressure on them, but they also had a draw play by the quarterback and I was looking at it on tape. We knew they had the play, but we watched five games of theirs and they ran that play one time. But they found something that worked and they stuck with it."
Meyer rushed for 73 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries, most of those on quarterback draw plays.
The Cardinals retaliated with a 63-yard pass from Johnson to Frisk on the next play from scrimmage to make it 29-20. But two interceptions and Grabmeier's final score shut the door on a Cardinal comeback.
"I know we could have beat them, but turnovers killed us," said Beachy. "Whether it's interceptions or fumbles, it's just been our characteristic here. We average five turnovers a game. We've played through it by stepping up on defense and making the big play on offense."
The second goal the Cardinals wanted to accomplish was establish respect for their football program. The Cardinals had not enjoyed success in the playoffs in years. They were outmanned as Albany dressed 59 players to their 32. Despite the loss, the Cardinals showed their football program is on the rise.
"You can't fault these kids for their effort," said Beachy. "Anybody who was at this game knows we could have easily won this game."
Albany 7 15 7 6 -- 35
Staples-Motley 14 0 6 0 -- 20
A-Curt Grabmeier 15 run (Adam Utsch kick) 9:10
SM-Izaak Schafer 15 pass from Adam Johnson (Johnson kick) 6:25
SM-Tyler Frisk 43 pass from Johnson (Johnson kick) :03
A-Matt Meyer 36 run (Utsch kick 5:39
A-Aaron Kleinschmidt 5 run (Grabmeier run) :05
A-Josh Harrison 5 pass from Meyer (Utsch kick) 4:58
SM-Frisk 65 pass from Johnson (kick failed) 4:45
A-Grabmeier 40 run (kick failed) 11:12
Rushing yards -- SM 29-169; A 59-261
Passing yards -- SM 13-35-3-251; A 5-10-1-54
Total yards -- SM 65-420; A 69-315
Rushing -- SM-Adam Johnson 14-86, Landon Thompson 9-33, Tyler Frisk 3-32, Kurt Porter 2-14, Dave Frisk 1-4; A-Curt Grabmeier 26-136
Passing -- SM-Johnson 13-35-251, A-Matt Meyer 5-9-54
Receiving -- SM-T. Frisk 5-140, Thompson 3-48, Porter 2-24, Nick Doll 2-24, Izaak Schafer 1-15
Overall -- SM finishes 7-3.
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