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Area Football: Pierz punts Annandale out of playoffs

ST. CLOUD - Eric Stuckmayer punted just 12 times in the Pierz Pioneers first nine games this season. The junior wasn't called on in the first half of Saturday's Section 5-3A championship game at St. Cloud State University. His services were neede...

Pierz senior defensive end Ted Dahler (73) pressures Annandale quarterback Brock Fobbe in Saturday's Section 5-3A final at St. Cloud State University. (Bill Johnson)
Pierz senior defensive end Ted Dahler (73) pressures Annandale quarterback Brock Fobbe in Saturday's Section 5-3A final at St. Cloud State University. (Bill Johnson)

ST. CLOUD - Eric Stuckmayer punted just 12 times in the Pierz Pioneers first nine games this season.

The junior wasn't called on in the first half of Saturday's Section 5-3A championship game at St. Cloud State University. His services were needed in the second half, however, and were appreciated as he pinned the Annandale Cardinals inside their own 20 all three times, including a couffin kick that planted Annandale on their own 1 yard line late in the fourth quarter.

Three unsuccessful offensive plays later, Annandale suffered a self-inflicted safety as its punter purposely stepped out of the back of the endzone. Pierz managed to run out the remaining time and secured an 18-12 victory to advance to its 12th state tournament appearance and third straight.

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Pierz 18, Annandale 12

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Highlight: Two fourth quarter safeties seal win

Overall: Prz 10-0, A 7-4

Next: Pierz vs. Section 6 winner Albany in Class 3A state quarterfinal at St. Cloud State University 5 p.m. Oct. 31

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With just a 14-12 advantage in the third quarter, Stuckmayer's first punt finished rolling at Annadale's 6. Five plays later Brett Kapsner picked off a Brock Fobbe pass to end that drive.

"That's always a goal of ours to try and turn the other team over," said Kapsner. "It's always been our game plan to force turnovers and that's what our defense is set up to do. The interception came on a drag route. Our coaches were pounding drag routes into our head all week and they ran one and here came the ball."

In the first half, Pierz rattled off 38 offensive plays compared to Annandale's 16. That wasn't the case in the second half as the Pioneers gained just 120 yards in the second half.

"Our drives were all four, three, and two yard runs," said Pierz head coach Leo Pohlkamp. "We could not get those extra yards against them like we did in the first half. Their defensive linemen were diving and cutting and that's hard because that took away our pulls. We are a pulling team and that caused some problems for us.

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"I have to give our linemen credit. They hung in there. Annandale would bend, but they just would not break."

Following a three and out for Pierz, Stuckmayer's next punt stuck Annandale at its own 18. The Pioneers' defense, which allowed just 43 rushing yard and 194 total yards, forced a Cardinals' punt.

Pierz drove the ball to the Cardinals 1, but Aaron Weber coughed up the snap and Annandale recovered at its one 1. One play later, Eischens tackled Reed Rasset in the endzone for a safety and a 16-12 Pierz lead.

"Kolton Eischens came up huge," said Pierz running back Jonny Kapser. "Brett Kapsner had a pick and Kolton had the big safety. And we had a couple of big stops. That's what we've been doing all year."

Pierz couldn't run out the clock after the free kick, but thanks to Stuckmayer's final punt to the Annandale 1, it didn't need to.

"It's always a good feeling and will get you smiling," said Kapsner of the win. "That's true in any sport. A state tournament is a state tournament. The goal is definitely a state championship, but you have to take it one game at a time. This will give us a boost now that we're in the tournament."

Pierz built a 14-0 lead in the first half thanks to the rushing of Kasper. The senior back surpassed 100 yards on the final play of the first quarter. He finished with 125 yards on 24 carries. On Pierz's first scoring drive - a 12-play, 68-yard drive - he carried it seven times for 39 yards. That set up a Noah Boser 1-yard dive for the score.

On Pierz's next possession, it was forced to punt, but Kapsner jumped on a fumble on the punt return to give Pierz the ball back at the Annandale 26. Nine plays later, Boser scored again from a yard out.

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Annandale answered with a 10-play, 76-yard drive highlighted by a 36-yard and a 38-yard pass. Fobbe finished it off with a 1-yard TD run for a 14-6 halftime score.

"This one is great being a senior and everything," Kasper said. "It's great to see everyone come through in the fourth quarter. I know people were asking if we could play a fourth quarter and we came through. That was big."

Annandale 0 6 6 0 - 12

Pierz 7 7 0 4 - 18

First quarter

Prz-Noah Boser 1 run (Preston Rocheleau kick) 2:42

Second quarter

Prz-Boser 1 run (Rocheleau kick) 5:54

A-Brock Fobbe 1 run (kick failed) 1:16

Third quarter

A-Dondrae Burns 1 run (pass fails) 3:31

Fourth quarter

Prz-Kolton Eischens Safety (tackles runner in end zone) 5:58

Prz-Safety Annandale punter Derek Tomberlin runs out of end zone 2:52

Team statistics

Rushes-yards: P 60-236, A 25-43

Pass comp-att-int-yds: P 4-10-1-75, A 7-17-1-151

Total offense: P 70-311, A 42-194

Individual leaders

Rushing: P-Jonny Kasper 24-125, Noah Boser 11-61, Lane Girtz 12-28, Derick Hall 9-41, Aaron Weber 2-(-6), Team 2-(-13); A-Reed Rasset 15-32, Brock Fobbe 7-6, Cory Schmidt 1-5, Dondrae Burns 1-1, Derek Tomberlin 1-(-1)

Passing: P-Weber 4-10-75 ; A-Fobbe 7-16-151, Brett Wadman 0-1-0

Receiving: P-Michael Meyer 3-64, Kolton Eischens 1-11 ; A-Rasset 1-0, Burns 3-52, Wadman 3-99

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or jeremy.millsop@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop .

Related Topics: PIERZ PIONEERS
Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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