ST. CLOUD - It was another dramatic comeback for the Boys in Blue.
Trailing the Centennial Cougars 28-14 with less than seven minutes remaining in regulation the Brainerd Warriors scored 14 straight points to tie Friday's Class 5A quarterfinal game and won it 34-28 in overtime at Husky Stadium on the campus of St. Cloud State University.
"We're going to play all four quarters, and that's what happened," Warriors coach Ron Stolski said. "I think maybe we just caught Centennial a little bit after they got that two-touchdown lead. I don't know that they relaxed because they're a very good ballclub but we knew they would score a lot."
In overtime Centennial got the ball first but its third-down pass was intercepted by Brainerd's Kyle Crocker.
Quarterback Reid Mimmack (right) hugged teammate Sam Pagel after the Warriors beat Centennial 34-28 in overtime in the Class 5A state quarterfinals Friday. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
"It was a rollout," Crocker said. "There were two wideouts, and he overthrew the bottom guy. I was there, slid and caught it. Game."
On Brainerd's first overtime play, halfback Jordan Hayes darted 10 yards for a score, enabling the Warriors to upset the sixth-ranked Cougars and reach the state semifinals for the second time in three years.
"The offensive line, I've got to give it to them, they did a great job," Hayes said of his winning score, his third of the game. "Carsten Nelson, the left halfback, did a great job opening it up and I just followed him right into the end zone."
With 6:58 left in regulation the Warriors trailed by 14 points. A 67-yard TD run by Centennial quarterback Chris Anderson, who finished with 162 yards rushing, and Adam LeMere's 2-point conversion run put the Cougars up by 14.
That's when the latest of many memorable comebacks in Warriors football history began.
Just 26 seconds later Brainerd pulled within 28-21 on Hayes' 4-yard TD run and Zach Cadwell's kick. On the preceding play Warriors quarterback Reid Mimmack found Crocker for a 44-yard gain.
Brainerd linebacker Taylor Main stymied the next Centennial possession, recovering a fumble at the Cougars' 30. But Hayes was stopped on fourth down at the Centennial 25.
After three Centennial plays netted two yards, Anderson was in punt formation but the snap was high, he had to scramble and he was tackled three yards shy of a first down.
With no timeouts, Brainerd got the ball back with 2:02 left. The Warriors converted two third-down situations and scored on a 6-yard pass from Mimmack to Dylan Wheeler. Cadwell's kick tied it with 25.5 seconds left.
Brainerd quarterback Reid Mimmack passed for 131 yards against Centennial in the Class 5A state quarterfinals Friday. For more photos go to spotted.brainerddispatch.com. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
"It was actually designed for Crocker," Wheeler said of the score. "He was coming off a wheel route, and I was just trying to drag both defenders off of him. They actually both stuck with Crocker. I was surprised to be wide open like that."
Mimmack said the play was improvised.
"We actually drew it up right before that," he said. "We originally were looking for Crocker. Dylan was going to be a decoy coming across the middle. Both guys keyed on Crocker so Dylan was wide open. I saw him doing jumping jacks so I gave it to him."
Stolski deliberated going for a 2-point conversion and the win in regulation.
"You know me, I always go for two but I thought the momentum was with us," he said. "We were kicking very well and I thought, 'Well, let's go to overtime here.' I felt pretty good about going to overtime."
Centennial 6 6 8 8 0 - 28
Brainerd 0 7 7 14 6 - 34
Cen-Adam LeMere 3 run (kick fails) 6:40
Brainerd's Carsten Nelson (36) rushed for 104 yards against Centennial Friday during the Class 5A quarterfinal game. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Cen-Mike Golis 6 pass from Chris Anderson (kick fails) 6:42
Brd-Jordan Hayes 3 run (Zach Cadwell kick) 2:51
Cen-Jeff Burns 4 run (Anderson run) 7:44
Brd-Reid Mimmack 1 run (Cadwell kick) 2:28
Cen-Anderson 67 run (LeMere run) 6:58
Brd-Hayes 4 run (Cadwell kick) 6:25
Brd-Dylan Wheeler 6 pass from Mimmack (Cadwell kick) 25.5
Brd-Hayes 10 run
First downs: Cen 15, Brd 20
Rushes-yards: Cen 46-291, Brd 50-238
Pass comp-att-int-yds: Cen 5-12-2-64, Brd 8-16-1-131
Total offense: Cen 355, Brd 369
Punts-avg: Cen 2-33.0, Brd 1-48.0
Return yards: Cen 76, Brd 135
Fumbles-lost: Cen 2-1, Brd 1-1
Penalties-yds lost: Cen 5-24, Brd 3-22
Rushing: Brd, Mimmack 3-(-7), Hayes 23-125, Carsten Nelson 19-104, Kyle Crocker 5-16; Cen, Anderson 13-162, LeMere 12-51, Burns 14-49, Eric Kallevig 7-29
Passing: Brd, Mimmack 8-16-131; Cen, Anderson 5-12-64
Receiving: Brd, Crocker 2-71, Wheeler 4-33, Tate Rusk 1-6, Nelson 1-21; Cen, Brian Sarvela 2-37, Golis 2-11, LeMere 1-16.
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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