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High School Football: Late turnover propels Warriors to victory

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Teammates celebrate as Brainerd's Davon Stuckey recovers a fumble Friday, Oct. 4, during Brainerd's homecoming game against Sartell. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Senior linebacker Jacob Drietz picked up a fumble and ran it into the endzone for a touchdown to make it a two-score game in the fourth quarter as the Brainerd Warriors beat the Sartell Sabres 30-26 Friday, Oct. 4, at Don Adamson Field.

“When I picked it up I was just hoping not to trip or go out of bounds,” Drietz said.

The scoop and score came at a good time for the Warriors. Before the big play, they found themselves up only 22-18 and the Sabres’ run heavy offense was eating up most of the second half.

“Coach has been stressing getting turnovers and getting a score on defense so it was a big plus to get it in that category,” Drietz said.

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The Warriors held a slim 14-12 lead into halftime. Sophomore quarterback Nate Staehling scored both touchdowns on the ground for the Warriors, whose offense struggled most of the first half.

“We played much better in the second half,” Warriors coach Ron Stolski said. “First half too many errors, but you are happy when you get the chance to win a game.”

Brainerd’s opening drive ended in a fumble lost by Nate Staehling in Sabres’ territory. Their next drive ended when Staehling threw his only interception of the game.

Nevertheless, Brainerd’s defense responded with turnovers of their own. They turned the Sabres over three times. Safety Ben Staehling picked off Sabres quarterback Cole Hentges for the first of those to set up Nate Staehling’s 25-yard touchdown scramble. It would be Nate Staehling’s first of three touchdowns.

“It was a team effort,” Nate Staehling said. “I could not have done it without my line. I tried to read my reads and just run hard.”

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Warriors 30, Sartell 26

Key: Scoop and score by Jacob Drietz in the fourth quarter puts the game away for the Warriors giving them their second win of the season.

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Sub: Brd 2-3, Sar 0-5

Overall: Brd 2-4, Sar 0-6

Next: hosts Rocori 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11

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The Sabres did not throw often, but when they did they were successful. Wide receiver Dom Hagy hauled in five catches for 158 yards and two touchdowns. The first touchdown gave the Sabres a 12-8 lead in the first half.

The Warriors responded with a late first half touchdown, a 15-yard run by Nate Staehling.

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Nate Staehling runs the ball against the Sartell defense. He rushed for 128 yards and three touchdowns in the Warriors 30-26 win over the Sabres. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

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The Sabres were successful on the ground most of the game, but their leading rusher Cody Lantis went out of the game in the first half with what appeared to be a leg injury. Still, Sartell managed 134 yards rushing in the game.

Trailing by a slim margin, the Sabres took the second half kickoff and milked a 17-play, 68-yard drive, which ate up nine minutes of game clock. Hentges scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak to make it 18-14 Sartell.

“Coach just sat everyone down and told us to lock in,” Drietz said after Sartell’s long drive to start the second. “After that I think we played with more speed and we knew our job.”

The Warriors did not take long to regain the lead when Nate Staehling used his legs again to score a 52-yard touchdown.

“From the middle of the third quarter on, the offensive line really started to play,” Stolski said. “Defensively they just made some plays, but great homecoming game, what a crowd.”

Nate Staehling rushed for 128 yards on 16 carries, but lost two fumbles. Drietz’s fumble return overshadowed all the it.

“That was the play,” Stolski said of the fumble return. “We finally got some pressure on the quarterback. The defense made the big stop and I’m very happy for the kids. We know we made some errors in the first half. Cleaned them up. And I think we played error-free football in the second half.”

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Jacob Drietz

Sartell tacked on one last score after Drietz’s scoop and score and the Warriors ran the clock out to win their second game in 2019.

Ben Staehling chipped in 52 yards on 14 carries and rushed in two key two-point conversions.

The Warriors only completed two passes on the night: one to Owen Davis for 41 yards and the other to Jacob Smith for 12.

Brainerd’s two wins have come in front of the home crowd with this week being extra special for the players because it was homecoming week.

“It feels good to get a win and get a win at homecoming,” Drietz said. “Hopefully we can keep this momentum going for the next couple of games. We need to get more physical up front.”

For more photos, go to https://bit.ly/2IpS2gA .

Sartell 0 12 6 8 -- 26
Brainerd 0 14 8 8 -- 30

Second quarter
Brd-Nate Staehling 29 run (Ben Staehling run) 10:30
Sar-Dylan Gerdes 5 run (run failed) 8:26
Sar-Dom Hagy 25 pass from Cole Hentges (pass failed) 6:06
Brd-Nate Staehling 15 run (pass failed) 1:41
Third quarter
Sar-Hentges 1 run (pass failed) 3:12
Brd-Nate Staehling 52 run (Stuckey run) 1:07
Fourth quarter
Brd-Jacob Drietz 22 fumble return (Ben Staehling run) 7:30
Sar-Hagy 34 pass from Hentges (Hentges run) 4:35

Team statistics
Rushes-yards: Brd 45-229, Sar 45-134
Pass comp-att-int-yds: Brd 2-9-1-53, Sar 6-14-1-171
Total offense: Brd 54-282, Sar 59-305

Individual leaders
Rushing: Brd-Nate Staehling 16-128, Ben Staehling 14-52, Davon Stuckey 12-40; Sar-Ethan Torgrimson 22-88, Dylan Gerdes 7-15, Cody Lantis 2-8, Cole Hentges 7-0
Passing: Brd-Nate Staehling 2-7-1-53, Owen Davis 0-1-0-0; Sar-Cole Hentges 6-13-1-171
Receiving: Brd-Owen Davis 1-41, Jacob Smith 1-12; Sar-Dom Hagy 5-158, Jacob Bjelland 1-13
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