Cougars rally to top Owls and advance to Section final

Ben Stoterau

A frantic second half rally helped Cedar Mountain upset top-seed Hancock 20-14 in the Section 2A-9 Man semifinals held Saturday, Oct. 30 in Hancock.

The Cougars (6-4) trailed 14-0 in the second half but would score 20 unanswered points to stun the previously unbeaten Owls (8-1) and advance to the championship game Thursday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. in Marshall.

The Cedar Mountain Cougars upset top-seed Hancock on Oct. 30 to advance to the Section 2A-9 Man title game.

Cedar Mountain will face a familiar foe in the title game as they will hook up with rival Renville County West for a chance to move on to State. The Jaguars (7-3) topped the Cougars 28-6 on Oct. 7 in Danube but Cedar Mountain has won three straight and will head into the contest with plenty of momentum.

Saturday against Hancock, the Cougars trailed 14-0 at the half but would claw back into the game in the third quarter as Cooper Freitag hit Caden Kleinschmidt for 38 yards to the Hancock four yard line. Two plays later Nick Freitag would connect with Kleinschmidt on a 7-yard strike to cut the lead to 14-6 (the 2-point conversion failed).

Heading into the fourth quarter the Cougars would cut into the lead again when Nick Freitag hooked up with Kleinschmidt on a 14-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-12. The 2-point conversion — which would’ve tied the game — failed however and the Cougars would trail by two with just over nine minutes left to play.

On the ensuing Hancock possession, the Cougar defense came up with a big fourth down stop at midfield. Three plays later Nick Freitag would get loose on a 45-yard touchdown run to give the Cougars an 18-14 lead. The 2-point conversion from Nick Freitag to Kleinschmidt would make it 20-14 with 5:43 to play.

Again Hancock would move to near midfield and had a fourth and one scenario. This time it was Dante Otto and Maverick Weber coming up big with the defensive stop to turn the ball over on downs.

Hancock would have one more possession with 2:43 to play but were stopped on four downs and Cedar Mountain would kneel out the clock and close out the upset win.

Hancock would finished with 370 yards of total offense compared to 219 for the Cougars and ran 14 more offensive plays, but it was the Cougar defense in the second half that came up big.

Nick Freitag would finished 5-of-6 passing for 54 yards and two scores, had four catches for 35 yards and added 12 carries for 53 yards and a score.

Cooper Freitag was 9-of-16 passing for 128 yards and Kleinschmidt hauled in eight key receptions for 134 yards and two scores. Weber had two catches for 13 yards.

Defensively the Cougars were led by Matt Zeug with 15 tackles (10 solo) and two tackles-for-loss.

Weber had 11 tackles (six solo), Nick Freitag added eight tackles (six solo), Kleinschmidt had six tackles (six solo), Tanner Mathiowetz added with tackles (four solo), Ryan Kevelin had six tackles (three solo) and Dante Otto had four tackles and 2 1/2 tackles-for-loss. Lane Guggisberg pitched in with three tackles and Jaxon Kerkhoff had four tackles and a tackle-for-loss.

The Cougars opened up postseason play on Oct. 26 by avenging an earlier 14-12 loss to BLHS with a 50-12 rout of the Mustangs.

The Cougars led 28-6 at the half and rolled to an easy win as Nick Freitag had six carries for 142 yards and a score and added two catches for 36 yards and a score.

Zeug had 16 carries for 88 yards and two scores and had one catch for 11 yards. Kleinschmidt added one carry for 67 yards and a score and had two catches for 19 yards.

Cooper Freitag was 5-of-6 passing for 66 yards and a score.

Zeug led the defense with 15 tackles (eight solo), Mathiowetz had 16 tackles (four solo), Kerkhoff had eight tackles and two tackles-for-loss and Cooper Freitag had seven tackles and two tackles-for-loss. Guggisberg would add an interception to go along with five tackles.