Wabasso runs past Ada-Borup-NCW in football semifinals
MINNEAPOLIS— Ada-Borup-Norman County West hadn't seen a running game like Wabasso's all season.
The Rabbits wore down the Cougars with 238 yards on the ground in grinding out a 21-13 victory in a Minnesota Class 1A state semifinal football game Saturday morning at U.S. Bank Stadium.
"Wabasso had a lot of hard runners. By the end of the game, on their last scoring drive, we were worn down a little bit," Cougars head coach Paul Tinjum said. "They're the best football team we've seen all year. We gave it everything we had until the end."
Wabasso (12-0) advances to play Minneota at 10 a.m. next Saturday for the state championship at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Rabbits' offensive line propelled senior running back Cooper Taylor to 128 yards rushing on 23 carries with a touchdown. Taylor had a sparkling all-around game while adding four catches for 93 yards and a touchdown. He also had an interception on the defensive side.
The Cougars (12-1) played without star running back Zach Pelzman following their first possession in the third quarter after he suffered a head injury. Pelzman had seven carries for 11 yards before leaving.
Wabasso's defense held the Cougars to 178 yards on the ground with most of those coming from junior quarterback Jared Brainard, who had 14 carries for 118 yards. Brainard was 8 of 19 passing for 83 yards, but he threw three interceptions.
"Give Wabasso credit— they had guys making tackles everywhere," Brainard said. "Their secondary really broke on the ball. I haven't seen a defense like that this year that was so fast and aggressive.
"We missed Zach. He is our go-to guy. He had 50 touchdowns the last two years. We tried to step up without him, but it was tough."
A-B-NCW (12-1) had plenty of chances in the second half to take the lead after trailing 7-3 at the half.
Vitor Vac Bitu Alves kicked a 37-yard field goal to make it 7-6 with 2:47 left in the third quarter. But after missing another 37-yarder with 10:27 left in the game, Wabasso was penalized for roughing Alves after the miss.
Despite being given five more yards, Alves failed to capitalize and missed a 32-yarder that would have given the Cougars a 9-7 lead.
"We had our chances, but Wabasso just made a few more plays than us," Tinjum said. "For a first-year co-op to go this far is pretty special. These kids came together from two rival schools and became one team. We made it to the final four. You could say we overachieved this year."
Wabasso capitalized on the Alves miss and went on a 10-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 13-yard end-around touchdown run by Colton Taylor. That score gave the Rabbits a 14-6 lead with 5:58 to play.
On the next drive, Cooper Taylor picked off Brainard deep in Wabasso territory. The Rabbits responded with a 5-play, 48-yard drive that ended with Cooper Taylor scoring from six yards out to give them a 21-6 lead with 1:52 remaining.
The Cougars responded with a quick scoring drive when Brainard connected with Brett Fetting for a 21-yard touchdown with 42 seconds left to cut the lead to 21-13.
A-B-NCW attempted an onside kick late, but it didn't go 10 yards and Wabasso recovered.
The Rabbits advance to the state championship game a year after losing in the state semifinals to Minneapolis North.
"Ada-Borup forced us to do things we don't normally do," Wabasso head coach Joe Kemp said. "We threw the ball more than we ever did during the season. They were really good on the edge and we couldn't run off tackle.
"Our seniors just went about their business. There's no screwing around with this group. They're out to prove something."
W 7 0 0 14--21
ABNCW 3 0 3 7--13
W--Cooper Taylor 55 pass from Altermatt (Colton Taylor kick)
ABNCW--Alves 39 FG
ABNCW--Alves 37 FG
W--Colton Taylor 13 run (Colton Taylor kick)
W--Cooper Taylor 6 run (Colton Taylor kick)
ABNCW--Fetting 21 pass from Brainard (Alves kick)
RUSHING: W--Cooper Taylor 23-128, Jacobson 7-61, Altermatt 12-29, Colton Taylor 2-20. ABNCW--Brainard 14-118, Fetting 9-28, Miller 1-19, Pelzman 7-11, Barber 3-2.
PASSING: W--Altermatt 7-15-0 for 98 yards. ABNCW--Brainard 8-19-3 for 83 yards.
RECEIVING: W- Cooper Taylor 4-93, Colton Taylor 2-(-1), Franta 1-6. ABNCW--Garcia III 3-52, Fetting 2-24, Whiting 2-12, Pelzman 1-(-5).