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Backer powers Chatfield to state quarterfinal win over B.E. Area

CREATING SPACE — Blue Earth Area wingback Parker Meyers (middle) blocks Chatfield cornerback Eli Hopp (left) to create running room for Buc wide receiver Abram Kokos after Kokos caught an Ashton Lloyd pass during Thursday night’s Class AA state quarterfinal football game in Rochester. (Photo by Greg Abel)

ROCHESTER — The Blue Earth Area Buc football team saw its season come to an end on Thursday night on the Rochester Mayo High School field in Rochester after losing 35-6 to the defending Class AA state champion Chatfield Gophers.

The Gophers (11-0) advance to play Eden Valley-Watkins in the state semifinal at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 18, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Eden Valley-Watkins beat Sauk Centre 14-7 in its quarterfinal game on Thursday night in Monticello.

Blue Earth Area couldn’t stop Chatfield senior quarterback Sam Backer.

The 6-foot, 195-pound Backer rushed for a game-high 208 yards on only 19 carries, scoring two touchdowns to go with passing for three touchdowns.

“They were fast and physical,” BEA head coach Randy Kuechenmeister said. “We had opportunities to score, but couldn’t get the ball in the end zone. They were faster than we were. Give them credit, they are a good football team.”

Buc senior quarterback Ashton Lloyd had a good game. He completed 24 of 38 passes for 247 yards with one interception. Lloyd also ran for 17 times for 60 yards and one touchdown.

Jack Norman caught nine passes for 137 yards to top the Bucs’ performance.

Lloyd was harassed the entire game, but found a way to make something positive happen. He would either escape a sure sack by outrunning a Gopher defensive linemen or break a tackle.

However, the Gophers scored on their first possession on Backer’s 28-yard touchdown pass to tight end Drew O’Connor. Backer also connected with Carter Daniels for the two-point conversion, making it 8-0 at the 9:41 mark of the opening quarter.

The Gophers made it 14-0 when Backer hit Cole Johnson for a 23-yard touchdown pass at the 4:35 mark of the second quarter. The two-point conversion failed.

The Bucs took the ensuing possession and drove to the Gophers’ 2-yard line, but didn’t get the ball into the end zone before halftime. Lloyd was stuffed for a 1-yard loss on fourth-and-goal.

The Gophers extended their lead to 22-0 at the 7:53 mark of the third quarter. O’Connor caught a second touchdown pass from Backer. This time it came from 40 yards. Backer also ran in the two-point conversion.

Backer scored on a 2-yard run at the 3:54 mark of the third quarter and Jacob Erickson kicked the extra point to make it 29-0.

The Bucs continued to play hard and once again drove deep inside Gophers’ territory.

They ran 16 plays, but came up short on a fourth-down play inside the Gophers’ red zone.

The Gophers took over and put one final touchdown on the board when Backer sprinted 50 yards. The extra point was missed, but the damage was done.

The Bucs did get on the board in the final quarter when Lloyd ran in from 12 yards out with 5:25 remaining. The two-point conversion failed, but the Bucs were on the board.

Defensively for the Bucs, Parker Meyers had 10 tackles, two fumble recoveries and an interception.

Blue Earth Area finished its season with a 9-3 overall record after qualifying for the state tournament for the ninth time.

BEA 0 0 0 6 — 6

CHA 8 6 15 6 — 35

Scoring Plays

1st Quarter

CHA–Drew O’Connor 28 pass from Sam Backer (Carter Daniels pass from Sam Backer), 9:41.

2nd Quarter

CHA–Cole Johnson 23 pass from Sam Backer (run failed), 4:35.

3rd Quarter

CHA–Drew O’Connor 40 pass from Sam Backer (Sam Backer run), 7:53.

CHA–Sam Backer 2 run (Jacob Erickson kick), 3:54.

4th Quarter

CHA–Sam Backer 50 run (kick failed), 8:36.

BEA–Ashton Lloyd 12 run (pass failed), 5:25.

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