Two-point conversion attempt thwarted by Cardinal defense to salvage 31-30 victory

In a game that will be firmly etched in Redwood Valley football lore, the Cardinals outlasted rival Pipestone Area 31-30 on a missed two-point conversion on the final play of the game to claim the Section 3AA title Friday night at Mattke Field in Marshall.

With the victory, the Cardinals (10-0) have advanced to the Class A State Quarterfinals where they will meet up with Section 4AA champion Minneapolis North (10-0) at 8 p.m. Friday night in New Ulm.

The Polars - who defeated St. Agnes 28-0 in the Section 4AA title game - have compiled a 45-2 record over its past 47 games, winning a Class A State title in 2016 and losing to eventual State champion Caledonia in the State quarterfinals a year ago. The Polars have been dominate this season, averaging over 50 ppg while allowing just 4.8 ppg (including six shutouts). They’re closest contest was a 54-28 win over Breck (7-2).

“They’re extremely athletic,” Head Coach Matt Lundeen said, “They’re the number two ranked team in the state for a reason.”

Friday night against the Arrows (8-3), the Cardinals watched as Pipestone Area rallied from a 24-7 third quarter deficit to score on the final play of regulation to claw to within a point at 31-30. An extra point would’ve sent the game into overtime but the Arrows decided to go for two and the victory.

On the two point play, Arrow quarterback Cody Thompson rolled to the right and appeared to complete a pass in the endzone for the win but the Arrow receiver had dove out of the endzone to make the catch on the play and thus did not cross the plane of the goalline.

The Cards had escaped 31-30 and punched their ticket to State for the first time since the 2004 season.

“I was proud of the way our guys were able to hold on at the end,” Lundeen said, “We’ve been in the Section final four straight years and at some point you have to overcome the history and have something go right so it was a great feeling to come away with the win.”

On the Cards second possession of the game, they would drive down to the Arrow 10-yard line but a fumble on 3rd-and-1 and a false start on 4th-and-1 led to a failed FG try and no points.

The Arrows would then drive down the field and on 4th-and-6, quarterback Cody Thompson hit wideout Terry Price on a 16-yard touchdown strike to give the Arrows a 7-0 lead with 10 minutes to go in the half.

Needing to sway the momentum, the Cards answered right back as standout Cole Woodford took a pitch from quarterback Alex Louwagie and hit a streaking Brennan Sander down the middle of the field for a 65-yard touchdown pass to tie the score.

The Cards then got the ball right back when an on-sides kick was recovered by Woodford on the Arrow 42-yard line. Junior Adam Bommersbach would take over from there, breaking free on a 28-yard run for a touchdown that upped the lead to 14-7.

The Cards had another chance late in the half, driving to the Arrow 8-yard line before Louwagie was intercepted in the endzone to end the threat.

Redwood Valley continued to apply pressure offensively early in the third quarter as Carter Guetter caught a swing pass from Louwagie and rumbled towards the goalline before being hit and fumbling out of the endzone for a touchback.

The Cardinal defense would respond however and following an Arrow punt a 71-yard screen pass to Woodford would set up an 11-yard touchdown reception to Matthew Muetzel that upped the lead to 21-7.

On the Arrows next possession, the Cardinal defense again forced a three-and-out and on the attempted punt, the ball sailed over the punters head and was recovered on the Arrow 8-yard line. The Cards were unable to punch it in but would pick up a 22-yard field goal from Stian Vraalstad to increase the lead to 24-7.

It appeared the Cards were on there way to a rout when the Arrows answered back with a five-play, 40-yard drive that ended in a 2-yard pass from Thompson to Jason Steenstra that made it 24-14. The Arrows then tacked on a 31-yard field goal from Cesar Almaraz that made it 24-17 with 10:11 to go in the fourth quarter.

The suddenly stagnant Cardinal offense again was forced to punt and the Arrows answered by driving 88 yards on eight plays to tie the game on a 3-yard pass from Thompson to Josh Tinklenberg.

With the ship sinking and the season on the line, the Cards came up with a huge play from the offense as Bommersbach would take the pitch and chuck it to Woodford streaking down the field for a 54-yard touchdown and a 31-24 lead with 5:23 to play.

The Arrows nearly scored on their next possession but were held out of the endzone from inside the five to turn the ball over on downs.

The Cardinal offense would burn clock and then punted with just under 1:30 to play to give the Arrows one last chance. Starting on the Cardinal 48-yard line, the Arrows methodically worked it down the field, completing a 22-yard pass on 3rd-and-10 down to the Cardinal 13-yard line. Down to one last play in regulation, the Arrows somehow found the endzone as Thompson hit Dawson Schellhaas from 13-yards out to make it 31-30.

Fortunately the Cards would make a play on the two-point conversion to seal the victory and escape with a huge win for a program desperate to take the nest step.

The two defensive oriented teams combined for 919 yards of total offense, 470 for the Arrows and 449 for the Cards. Woodford had a huge night finishing with six catches for 173 yards and a score, completing 2-of-3 passes for 76 yards and two scores and adding four carries for 14 yards. Bommersbach had 16 carries for 86 yards and a score and was 1-for-1 passing for 54 yards and a score. Louwagie was 6-of-11 passing for 164 yards and an INT. Logan Prouty had eight carries for 28 yards, Carter Johnson had one carry for 14 yards, Sander had one catch for 65 yards and a score, Guetter had one catch for 45 yards and Muetzel added one catch for 11 yards and a score.

Corbin Wabasha had a huge game to lead the defense, finishing with six tackles (four solo), 2 1/2 sacks and a tackle-for-loss. Kyle Huhnerkoch had six tackles (six solo), Prouty added seven tackles (five solo), Omar Arredondo had seven tackles (five solo) and Chad Maddock and Michael Mace both had tackles-for-loss.

Section 3AA Championship

Redwood Valley 31, Pipestone Area 30

Second Quarter Pipe - Price 16-yard pass from Thompson (Almaraz kick) RV - Sander 65-yard pass from Woodford (Vraalstad kick) RV - Bommersbach 28-yard run (Vraalstad kick)

Third Quarter RV - Muetzel 11-yard pass from Woodford (Vraalstad kick) RV - Vraalstad 22-yard FG Pipe - Steenstra 17-yard run (Almaraz kick)

Fourth Quarter Pipe - Almaraz 31 yard FG Pipe - Tinklenberg 3-yard pass from Thompson (Almaraz kick) RV - Woodford 54-yard pass from Bommersbach (Vraalstad kick) Pipe - Schelhaas 13-yard pass from Thompson (2-point failed)