Cardinals rally late to top Eagles and stay unbeaten

Ben Stoterau

A missed 29-yard field goal with just seconds remaining in regulation helped host Redwood Valley escape with an 8-7 victory over Maple River Friday night, Sept. 17 at Inglis Field in Redwood Falls.

In an early season showdown of two of the better teams in Class AA, it was the Cardinals (3-0) who were able to find a way to gut out a win despite being held to just 120 yards of total offense and being stymied for most of the game.

The Eagles (2-1) controlled the line of scrimmage throughout, running an eye-opening 32 more offensive plays than the Cards and out-gaining them by a more than 2-to-1 ratio.

The Redwood Valley defense came up with a huge first half goal line stand that would ultimately help them hold on for an 8-7 win over visiting Maple River.

But it was here, with Maple River leading 7-0, that the Cards had their first big game changing moment. The Eagles had driven down to the Cardinal one-yard line with a chance to go up two scores at the half.

The Cardinal defense however would come up with a huge stop, stuffing the Eagles on three straight plays, including fourth and goal, to escape the half down just one score.

The second half proved to be much like the first, but the Cards would finally catch a break late in the fourth as a Maple River punt attempt sailed over the punters head and gave the Cards the ball on the 11-yard line with a chance to score.

A slant pass from Alex Lang to Carson Woodford would eventually set up a pair of quarterback runs from Lang, including a two-yard plunge for the score to make it 7-6.

It was here that Head Coach Matt Lundeen decided to roll the dice and go for the go-ahead points and his two-point play was gold, as Lang rolled to the right and hit Woodford for the two-point conversion and an 8-7 lead.

Maple River would answer back and drive down to the Cards 12-yard line, aided by a big 36-yard completion, but their field goal attempt to win the game would sail wide right and the Cards would escape with a big early season win.

The victory now sets up a huge match-up with rival Pipestone Area (3-0) this Friday night in Pipestone. The Arrows have been impressive through three games, outscoring opponents 131-29.

Offensively it was a quiet night for the Cards as Lang completed 12-of-20 passes for 85 yards and rushed the ball five times for five yards and a score.

Drew Lundeen (2) stretches out for a great catch near midfield.

Drew Lundeen came up with a few big grabs and would finish with five catches for 51 yards and three carries for 10 yards. Carter Peterson had five catches for 22 yards, Maverick Goblirsch added three carries for 17 yards, Woodford had two catches for 12 yards and Evan Cooper had three carries for three yards.

Evan Cooper (3) makes a huge stop along the goal line.

Defensively, the three-headed monster of Lundeen, Cooper and Goblirsch racked up big stats in the win and all three were key on the goal line stand that kept the Cards in the game.

A hit by Lane Evans forced a fumble but Maple River would recover the ball.

Lundeen would finish with 15 tackles (six solo) and two tackles-for-loss, Cooper had 14 tackles (six solo) and three tackles-for-loss and Goblirsch added 14 tackles (seven solo) and two tackles-for-loss.

Cardinals Camron Enright (1) and Brandon Lang (26) go up to defend a first quarter pass in the end zone.

Peterson finished with nine tackles (two solo), Lane Evans added eight tackles (two solo), Camron Enright had five tackles (one solo), Woodford four (three solo) and Riley Dikken had five tackles (one solo) and two tackles-for-loss.

Redwood Valley 8  Maple River 7

First Quarter: Maple River, Biden Simon 5-yard run (Landon Fox kick). Fourth Quarter: Redwood ValLang 2-yard run (Lang to Woodford 2-point conversion).