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MCW doubles up Wabasso in 3A gridiron semifinal

TEAMWORK — Martin County West defensive back Connor Simmonds (6) tips away a pass as Maverick teammate Raine Stade jars Wabasso quarterback Carter Benz (5) during Section 3A semifinal football action Saturday in Sherburn. (Photo by Greg Abel)

SHERBURN — Wyatt Geistfeld saw the football pop into the air, grabbed it and sprinted down the sideline.

With less than 2 minutes left in the first half, Geistfeld returned an interception 70 yards for a touchdown to put Martin County West up 14-0.

Will Carlson almost made a diving catch on a deep corner route, but as he hit the ground, the ball popped off of him straight into the air in front of the home sideline. Geistfeld grabbed the ball and had open space in front of him for all 70 yards.

It turned into the winning score as the Section 3A No. 2-seeded Mavericks beat the No. 3-seeded Wabasso Rabbits 14-7 in their semifinal round Saturday in Sherburn.

“It was kind of one of those fluky plays that happened to bounce our way,” said Maverick head coach Tom Elliott. “When you play a good team like Wabasso, those kind of things going your way, that’s the difference between winning and losing.”

With the win, the Mavericks (7-3) move on to the Section 3A championship for the first time in more than a decade. MCW will face No. 1-seeded and Class A No. 3-ranked Springfield (9-0) at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall at 4:30 p.m. Friday.

“They (Springfield) have got a lot of really, really good athletes,” Elliott said. “We’ve got to play very smart, they’re a team that likes to throw it around, they have a really athletic quarterback who can make plays and extend plays. We’re just gonna have to play very, very sound defensively, especially in the pass defense.”

Wabasso started a comeback with 4 minutes left.

Down 14-0, the Rabbits’ Carter Benz found Lance Wagner on a wheel route down the visiting sideline for 36 yards, then combined throws to Colby Wall and Carlson for 42 yards, including a 15-yard fade to Carlson for the score.

Jaxson Rohman fell on the ensuing onside kick attempt with 2:42 left on the clock. Rohman carried the ball three times for 9 yards, forcing a fourth down with 1 yard to go to let the Mavericks go into victory formation.

Miles Fitzgerald took the fourth-down handoff up the middle and pushed the pile two yards, giving the Mavericks a first down and icing the game.

“It was an excellent effort all around,” Elliott said. “Outside of their one touchdown drive, we just got a little lackadaisical with our pass coverage. All in all, we put together a great 48 minutes of football. … The boys played hard, our blocking schemes were a lot better. … A great effort and I’m extremely proud.”

The Mavericks put up their first score late in the first quarter.

Rohman powered the MCW offense on the 10-play, 80-yard drive. He took the opening carry seven yards on a triple-option pitch to the right, then carried a pitch sweep left for 41 yards after stiff-arming through multiple defenders.

Miles Fitzgerald took a fullback dive up the middle for four yards, then Geistfeld kept a triple-option run for 13. MCW got to the 4 after a Rohman run, then Fitzgerald took another fullback dive that was announced a touchdown in the stadium, though the refs never signaled a score. After the offense celebrated, they had to go back onto the field for a 2nd-and-goal play from the 2.

Rohman and Fitzgerald each had a 1-yard run, with Fitzgerald getting the score with 1:29 left in the first quarter.

Alec Weir made both extra-point kicks for the Mavericks.

Rohman led MCW with 29 carries for 127 yards.

Wabasso 0 0 0 7 — 7

MCW 7 7 0 0 — 14

Scoring Plays

1st Quarter

MCW– Miles Fitzgerald 1 run (Alec Weir kick good), 1:29.

2nd Quarter

MCW– Wyatt Geistfeld 70 interception return (Weir kick good), 1:47

3rd Quarter

No Scoring.

4th Quarter

WA–Will Carlson 15 pass from Carter Benz (Matt Evink kick good), 2:43.

TEAM STATISTICS

First downs: WA 8; MCW 11. Rushing: WA 20-75; MCW 45-164. Passing: WA 8-21-2-91; MCW 3-8-0-16. Fumbles-lost: WA 0-0; MCW 1-0. Penalties: WA 1-5; MCW 7-60.

INDIVIDUAL STATS: Passing: Carter Benz (WA) 8-21-2-91; Geistfeld 3-8-0-16. Rushing: Jaxson Rohman (MCW) 29-127; Nick Marotzke (WA) 9-34.

Defense: Interceptions: Wyatt Geistfeld (MCW), Rohman (MCW).

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