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B.E. Area steamrolls by Maple River for sectional crown

FULL STEAM AHEAD — Blue Earth Area running back Max Ehrich (2) steamrolls over Maple River’s Boden Simon (9) during Friday night’s Section 2AA football championship in Blue Earth. The Bucs’ Luke Mertens (52) prepares to block Simon as the Eagles’ Ethan Fischer looks on. (Photo by Greg Abel)

BLUE EARTH — Max Ehrich ran the Blue Earth Area Bucs to their second consecutive Section 2AA football championship.

No. 1-seeded and Class AA No. 2-ranked BEA completed its perfect COVID-19-shortened season with a 7-0 record after a 39-12 win over No. 2-seeded Maple River on Friday in Blue Earth, just hours before the new lockdown went into effect.

Maple River ended its season with a record of 5-3.

Ehrich carried 26 times to net 261 yards and five touchdowns to power the win.

Ehrich got his first score on the Bucs’ second drive.

BEA’s defense forced a three-and-out on the Eagles’ first drive and started with the ball on the Maple River 44. Ehrich carried three times for 12, 9, and 23 for his first score. BEA’s extra point kick was blocked, putting the Bucs ahead 6-0 with 6:53 left in the first.

After BEA forced another three-and-out, the Bucs started on the Eagles’ 45.

Ehrich carried the ball on the first play, then Gavin Storbeck connected with Ashton Lloyed on a stop route for 11 yards before finding Cam Anderson on an out route, where Anderson got through four defenders for a 33-yard score. The Bucs went for a fake PAT, but the Eagles thwarted the effort, leaving the Bucs lead at 12-0 with 3:47 left in the opening period.

Maple River got its first score on the following drive when it pulled out multiple trick formations.

The Eagles started the drive in the wishbone, gaining eight yards on the first three carries, then switched between Cooper Ochsendorf and Boden Simon as wildcat quarterbacks, gaining the first down on a 4th-and-2. Maple River faced another 4th down, this time with 5 yards to go, with Simon taking the direct snap. Simon took a designed draw up the middle for a 62-yard score to halve the Bucs’ lead with 11:00 left in the first half.

BEA responded with a 73-yard drive.

Ehrich carried seven times for 63 yards, including a 24-yarder where he broke multiple tackles and ending on a 9-yard TD run.

The Bucs’ 2-point conversion failed, leaving BEA ahead 18-6 with 6:57 left in the opening half.

The Bucs went into the halftime break needing to regain focus, and BEA head coach Randy Kuechenmeister said they did just that.

“We just had to go back to who we were,” Kuechenmeister said. “Just go back to trying to do our basic stuff, and that really helped us.”

The halftime motivation proved itself quickly, the Buc defense forced a three-and-out.

Ehrich needed only one carry to gain the 63-yard score when he bounced a power run to the BEA sideline and took it downfield. With only an Eagle safety to beat, Ehrich juked left, then cut back toward the sideline to pass the final defender.

Kean Hicks hit the PAT, putting the Bucs ahead 25-6 with 9:36 left in the third.

Two drives later, the Bucs forced a turnover on downs and started on the Maple River 28. Ehrich took five carries for 24 yards and a TD with 11:54 left in the game.

Maple River responded with its first score of the second half, working an 11-play 66-yard drive.

Simon and Ochsendorf combined for eight carries and 62 yards, while Landon Fox connected on one of the Eagles’ three completed passes on the day, hitting Zach Herrmann for 22 yards. Simon ended the drive with a 1-yard scoring run. The Eagles missed the extra point attempt, leaving the score 32-12 BEA with 6:15 left.

Austin Thielfoldt put the Bucs in great position to start the next drive after he collected the kickoff on a bounce at the 15 and returned it 69 yards to the Maple River 16. Ehrich needed only one carry to gain the 16 yards and the final of his five scores.

“It wasn’t our cleanest performance, but we did a lot of good things,” Kuechenmeister said. “They (Maple River) were determined to take our pass away, but we were able to run the ball. These kids have done everything that was asked of them all year and they’ve answered every challange, tonight was no different. I think very highly of them.

“They did a great job. We couldn’t have asked for anything more this year. … We feel very fortunate we were able to play all of our games and that’s a credit to how our school handled it and how these guys handled it.”

Storbeck completed six passes for 72 yards, two to Anderson for 42, three to Lloyd for 22 and one to Thielfoldt for 8.

The Bucs combined for 29 carries for 258 yards on the ground.

MR 0 6 0 6 — 12

BEA 12 6 7 14 — 39

SCORING PLAYS

1st Quarter

BEA–Max Ehrich 23 run (kick blocked), 6:53.

BEA–Cam Anderson 33 pass from Gavin Storbeck (pass failed), 3:47.

2nd Quarter

MR–Boden Simon 62 run (kick failed), 11:00.

BEA–Ehrich 9 run (pass failed), 6:57.

3rd Quarter

BEA–Ehrich 63 run (Kean Hicks kick), 9:36.

4th Quarter

BEA–Ehrich 4 run (Hicks kick), 11:54.

MR–Simon 1 run (kick failed), 6:15.

BEA–Ehrich 16 run (Hicks kick), 6:01.

TEAM STATISTICS

First downs: MR 9; BEA 11. Rushing: MR 50-227; BEA 29-258. Passing: MR 3-7-1-20; BEA 6-9-1-72. Fumbles-lost: MR 2-1; BEA 1-1. Penalties: MR 3-28; BEA 1-10.

INDIVIDUAL STATS

Offense: Rushing: Ehrich (BEA) 26-261; Simon (MR) 19-108; Ochsendorf (MR) 21-87. Passing: Storbeck (BEA) 6-8-1-72; Parker Meyers (BEA) 0-1-0-0; Fox (MR) 2-5-1-20; Ochsendorf (MR) 1-1-0-0; Simon (MR) 0-1-0-0. Receiving: Anderson (BEA) 2-42; Lloyd (BEA) 3-22; Thielfoldt (BEA) 1-8; Herrmann (MR) 1-22.

Defense: Interceptions: Anderson (BEA); Herrmann (MR). Fumble recoveries: Barke (BEA); Ethan McGregor (MR). Sack: Ehrich (BEA).

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