Wabasso puts up good fight before falling 28-13 to Vikings

A pair of fourth quarter touchdowns from Mr. Football finalist Isaac Hennen helped the Minneota Vikings hold off a gritty Wabasso Rabbits team 28-13 Saturday morning in Class A Prep Bowl action held at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

In a battle of former Section 5A rivals and the top two teams in Class A this season, it was the punishing ground game of the Vikings (14-0) that proved to be the difference as the Rabbits (13-1) fell just shy of the school’s first ever state football title.

Meanwhile it was the third state title in four years for the Vikings who have put together an amazing five year stretch.

“Overall I thought our kids played a heck of a game,” Coach Joe Kemp said, “It was truly a match-up of the top two teams in Class A and our guys just kept battling all day long.”

The Rabbits defense did a nice job of shutting down Minneota’s strong passing attack - holdimg them to just 34 yards through the air - but could not contain Hennen who finished with 34 carries for 291 yards and three touchdowns.

Two of those touchdowns came in the fourth quarter, the biggest a 54-yard scamper with 9:59 left in regulation that along with a successful two-point conversion would give the Vikings a 21-13 lead.

The Rabbits continued to fight to tie the score but an injury midway through the second half to star running back Cooper Taylor would hurt the cause as the offense was unable to generate any real threat.

“I thought our defense gave us a chance heading into the fourth quarter,” Kemp said, “Cooper (Taylor) getting hurt when the game was still tied deterred some of the things that we do offensively.”

It was an interesting first half that would go in the Rabbits favor early. On a 4th-and-9 from the Minneota 15-yard line, senior Nick Altermatt squirted through the middle of the line and blocked a punt attempted by the Vikings’ Alex Pohlen.

Isaac Schmiesing would pick up the loose ball and rumble to the 2-yard line where the Rabbits would take over 1st-and-goal.

Cooper Taylor would take it in two plays later from the one and with the extra point the Rabbits would go up 7-0.

The Vikings would counter with a nice drive of their own behind the running of Hennen but on a 2nd-and-long from the Wabasso 31-yard line, Altermatt would pressure Pohlen and force an errant throw that was picked off by linebacker Jacob Plaetz who returned the ball 16-yards to the Wabasso 28-yard line.

With all the momentum on their side, the Rabbits went right back to work as Cooper Taylor broke free on a 40-yard run and Altermatt and Kyle Jacobson both picked up yards on the ground to give the Rabbits a 1st-and-10 at the Minneota 16-yard line.

The Rabbits would move the ball inside the 10-yard line but on 4th-and-4 they decided not to try a FG and went for it unsuccessfully to turn the ball over on downs to Minneota.

“If we could’ve scored there to go up 14 that would’ve been huge,” Kemp said, “Instead they stopped us and drove down and scored to tie the game. That was a big turn of events.”

Down by seven, it was at that point that Hennen first showed he was going to be a load as he carried the ball on nine straight plays to move Minneota to the Wabasso 23-yard line.

Following an incomplete pass, Hennen would break free on a draw for a 23-yard touchdown run. The extra point was good and we would head into the half tied at seven.

The Rabbits would go three and out to open the second half and the Vikings would again ride the legs of Hennen on their opening second half possession to take the lead on a 1-yard run from Pohlen.

The extra point was no good and the Vikings would take their first lead at 13-7.

Late in the third quarter, the Rabbits would take advantage of great field position to tie the score on a 4-play, 29-yard drive that culminated in a 1-yard run from Kyle Jacobson.

The key play was a reverse pass from Colton Taylor to Tony Franta that covered 25-yard to the Viking 5-yard line. The extra point was no good however and the two teams would head in to the final 11 minutes tied at 13.

Minneota would answer right back on their ensuing possession, needing just three plays to cover 64-yards as Hennen broke free on a 54-yard scamper that along with the two-point conversion would put the Vikings up 21-13.

With Cooper Taylor on the sideline with an injury, the Rabbit offense struggled to find any rhythm the rest of the way. An interception by the Vikings’ Cole Sanow at the Wabasso 34-yard line would lead to the dagger as Hennen scored from 15-yards out to the game away.

“You know we were right there tied in the fourth quarter with a chance to win and that’s all we can ask for,” Kemp said.

The Vikings would finish with 372 yards of total offense (338 on the ground) and 19 first downs, compared to 228 for the Rabbits (180 rushing) and 10 first downs.

Minneota would finish 2-of-3 in red zone scoring opportunities compared to 2-of-5 for the Rabbits.

Offensively, Cooper Taylor capped off a record breaking season by finishing with 16 carries for 76 yards and a touchdown despite not playing in the fourth quarter. Altermatt had a solid day on both sides of the ball, rushing 12 times for 75 yards and completing 7-of-18 passes for 36 yards. Defensively he had six tackles, a tackle-for-loss and a blocked punt. Jacobson finished with eight carries for 23 yards and a score and Schmiesing had one carry for one yard. Colton Taylor had five catches for 21 yards and was 1-for-1 passing for 25 yards and Franta had two catches for 35 yards. Kody Kuehn hauled in one catch for five yards.

Pohlen was just 4-of-13 passing for 34 yards and an INT and had three carries for 18 yards for the Vikings. Sanow added six carries for 26 yards.

Schmiesing paced the Rabbit defense with 11 tackles (seven solo), a fumble recovery and two tackles-for-loss. Jacobson added eight tackles (five solo) and a tackle-for-loss, Kuehn had eight tackles (two solo) and a tackle-for-loss and Colton Taylor had six tackles. Plaetz added six tackles and an INT, Ty Kemp had six tackles and a tackle-for-loss and Scott Zollner added five tackles and a tackle-for-loss.

Class A State Championship

Minneota 28,   Wabasso 13

First Quarter Wab - Cooper Taylor 1-yard run (Colton Taylor kick) Second Quarter Min - I. Hennen 23-yard run (Pohlen kick) Third Quarter Min - Pohlen 1-yard run (kick failed) Fourth Quarter Wab - Jacobson 1-yard run (kick failed) Min - I. Hennen 54-yard run (Hennen 2-point run) Min - I. Hennen 15-yard run (Pohlen kick)