ST. CLOUD - From the opening kickoff it was clear, luck would not be on the side of the Pierz Pioneers.
It was one intangible the seventh-ranked Pioneers hoped favored them against the speedy Eden Valley-Watkins Eagles in Friday's Class 2A state quarterfinal game at St. Cloud State University.
Pierz committed five turnovers, however, leading to the second-ranked Eagles' 41-7 victory and advancement to the state semifinals.
A Pioneers' fumble on the opening kickoff, which appeared to be an onside kick, but was just a bad kick, was the first sign of what was to come.
Pierz's Adam Heinen (16) expressed his sadness after the Pioneers lost the Class 2A quarterfinal game 41-7 to Eden Valley-Watkins Friday. For more photos go to spotted.brainerddispatch.com. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
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"It didn't look like it was planned?" said EV-W senior Ryan Tri with a laugh.
"We expected a good game," he added. "They had some turnovers that we had to capitalize on and we did. We came down and marched the ball down the field after their turnovers and that's what you have to do."
Six plays later, Kevin Kramer rushed in from the two to hand the Eagles a 7-0 lead.
Of the Eagles' 34 first-half points, 27 came off of Pierz turnovers.
Pierz's second fumble set up Tri's 3-yard touchdown run. The Eagles' Joe Holdvogt blocked a punt and recovered the ball 37 yards later in the end zone, handing EV-W a 21-0 second-quarter edge and Brandon Walz intercepted a Brandon Meyer pass to set up Tri's second score - a 1-yard run.
"Five turnovers in the first half are a coach's nightmare," said Pierz head coach Leo Pohlkamp. "Turnovers are a part of the game you don't want and we had them. We hoped that wasn't going to happen because when you do it against a good team, boy they're just licking their chops."
Tyler Geislinger's 48-yard touchdown pass to Kramer was the Eagles' other score of the first half. The Eagles needed just 185 first-half yards to reach a 34-0 halftime advantage.
Pierz's John Omann (20) rushed against Eden Valley-Watkins in the Class 2A quarterfinal game Friday. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
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Tri, who entered Friday's game with 669 rushing yards and 713 receiving, was held to 11 yards of offense.
"They stopped me, but it opened up some other stuff," said Tri. "It takes a lot to try and stop all of our options. That's what makes our offense so good."
Ryan McCann scored on a 51-yard run in the third quarter for the Eagles' lone second-half score. McCann finished with 138 yards on 11 carries, while Kramer caught four passes for 94 yards and Geislinger finished 7-of-10 for 103 yards.
Pierz's John Omann rushed for 120 yards, including a 28-yard sprint into the end zone for the Pioneers' lone score.
"They are a very good team and I think they could win it all," said Pohlkamp. "I don't know who can match up with them, that's the thing. They beat us in the offensive and defensive lines. They beat us at our strength on both sides of the ball.
"I thought defensively we stopped some things, but they just find more ways to come at you. Find a weakness on their team. We tried. We couldn't see too many on film and we didn't see any tonight."
Eden Valley-Watkins 41, Pierz 7
Key: Five Pierz turnovers led to 27 Eagles points
Overall: Prz 10-2, EVW 12-0
Next: EV-W vs. Waterville-Elysian-Morristown 5:45 p.m. Nov. 21 at the Metrodome
Pierz 0 0 0 7 - 7
Eden Valley-Watkins 14 20 7 0 - 41
EVW-Kevin Kramer 2 run (Peter Euerle) 9:23
EVW-Ryan Tri 3 run (Euerle kick) 56:13
EVW-Joe Holdvogt 37 blocked punt recovery (Euerle) 11:46
EVW-Kevin Kramer 48 pass from Tyler Geislinger (Euerle) 4:39
EVW-Tri 1 run (Euerle kick failed) 35.5
EVW-Ryan McCann 51 run (Euerle kick) 5:06
Prz-John Omann 28 run (Travis Kahl kick) 1:40
First downs: Prz 13, EVW 12
Rushes-yards: Prz 34-156, EVW 33-170
Pass comp-att-int-yards: Prz 4-17-2-66, EVW 7-10-0-103
Total offense: Prz 51-222, EVW 43-273
Fumbles-lost: Prz 3-3, EVW 1-0
Penalties-yds lost: Prz 5-40, EVW 7-55
Rushing: Prz-John Omann 14-120, Cody Stangl 6-21, Mitch Woitalla 2-9, Zach Pohlkamp 4-(-10), Travis Kahl 3-5, Brandon Meyer 2-0, Mitch Boser 3-11 EVW-Ryan McCann 11-138, Ryan Tri 9-12, Kevin Kramer 7-14, Tyler Geislinger 1-(-4), Jake Forcier 2-10, Tyler Magendanz 2-2, team 1-(-2)
Passing: Prz-Zach Pohlkamp 1-8-23, Brandon Meyer 3-9-43, EVW-Geislinger 7-10-103
Receiving: Prz-Andy Kretschmar 1-2, Travis Kahl 2-41, Zach Kummet 1-23, EVW-Ryan Tri 1- (-1), Kevin Kramer 4-94, Eric Kummet 1-7, Aaron Hesse 1-3
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.
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