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High School Football: Warriors come back to steal win against Alexandria

Brainerd is the winner of four straight all subdistrict games. Brainerd travels to Rogers next week.

Brainerd quarterback Marcello Getty launches a pass during the first half of the Warriors' game in Alexandria on Sept. 30, 2022.
Brainerd quarterback Marcello Getty launches a pass during the first half of the Warriors' game Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, in Alexandria.
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press
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ALEXANDRIA — Trailing 14-0 with 9:30 left, the Warriors scored 15 unanswered points to steal a 15-14 win over the Alexandria Cardinals Friday, Sept. 30.

Sean Holbrook scored the game-winning touchdown with 1:21 left on a 12-yard pass from Marcello Getty.

John Hagen then picked off Alexandria’s quarterback Chase Thompson to close out an undefeated North Central Red Subdistrict season for the Warriors.

Sean Holbrook
Sean Holbrook
Kelly Humphrey

“Resilience. Obviously we struggled offensively 90% of the game, but when that happens other phases of the game have to be set up, and I thought we had a good game plan defensively and we had a lot of kids step up tonight,” Warriors head coach Jason Freed said. “And we got hot in the last six minutes.”

The play before the interception was a sack by Derron Tumpkin with 55 seconds left.

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“You ring the bell on defense when you have to ring the bell and with DJ on the sack and Hagen with the pick — he made a great play reading the route and that’s just a great job by our coaching staff for preparing the kids,” Freed said.

Brainerd's Damien Bentho tries to get to the outside on a run as Alexandria senior linebacker Bryr Homelvig chases him down on Sept. 30, 2022.
Brainerd's Damien Bentho tries to get to the outside on a run as Alexandria senior linebacker Bryr Homelvig chases him down on Sept. 30, 2022.
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

Pinned back at its own end zone, the Alexandria Cardinals decided to take a safety with 2:12 left to make it 14-9 Cardinals.

Brandon Stark made a nice return on the free kick to set up the Warriors’ game-winning drive.

“The kick return was a big play,” Freed said. “It got the field flipped right away and it got us going. It just gave us the momentum back and I think our kids realized we had a chance.”

Andrew Flaten scored a touchdown for the Cardinals with 9:30 left to give them a 14-0 lead after a two-point run.

“We just all came together like we have all season,” Getty said of the comeback. “We have been that way the last couple weeks and it’s really shown.”

The Warriors’ offense responded with a 7-play, 52-yard drive setup by a kick return from Stark.

Getty found Eli Hoelz with a 9-yard touchdown to cut the lead in half 14-7 with 6:55 left.

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“We just were able to find a little bit of a rhythm there,” Freed said. “We started connecting with some of those short passes and we were protecting really well. We just took what the defense was giving us.”

Hoelz caught nine passes for 74 yards and a touchdown.

Brainerd's Henry Hopkins leaps to try to haul in a catch in Alexandria on Sept. 30, 2022.
Brainerd's Henry Hopkins leaps to try to haul in a catch in Alexandria on Sept. 30, 2022.
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

“He’s just a steady eddie,” Freed said. “He runs good routes and is just a good athlete. He’s not the fastest in the world, but he runs great routes and he’s super smart.”

Getty threw for 17-for-24 for 149 yards and two touchdowns.

“Our passing game came to life today and that was good to see,” Freed said.

Getty added: “I just knew my guys would get open and we had to make plays and the ball went our way.”

The Warriors got a blocked punt and had a first and goal at the 6-yard line before a fumble by Damien Bentho gave the Cardinals back in the drive where they took the safety.

Brainerd outgained Alexandria 188-153, but only three rushing yards.

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In the third quarter, Alexandria’s kicker Daniel Jackson nailed a 52-yard field goal to make it 6-0. After a scoreless first quarter, a snap went over Getty’s head to set up Alexandria with first and goal from Brainerd’s 8-yard line.

Brainerd’s defense held firm and the Cardinals kicker made a 25-yard field goal to give Alexandria a 3-0 lead, which was the halftime score.

Brainerd's Jake Merseth dives to haul in a long catch near the Alexandria 20-yard line in the Warriors' game against the Cardinals on Sept. 30, 2022.
Brainerd's Jake Merseth dives to haul in a long catch near the Alexandria 20-yard line in the Warriors' game against the Cardinals on Sept. 30, 2022.
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

The Warriors outgained the Cardinals 80-46 in the first half with most of those yards coming on a 36-yard trick play pass from Eli Hoelz to Jake Merseth in the first quarter.

Brainerd turned it over once and also had a punt blocked in the first half. Sean Holbrook recorded an interception for Brainerd as Alexandria’s only turnover of the half.

Brainerd is the winner of four straight all subdistrict games. Brainerd travels to Rogers next week.

“Honestly, I don’t think we talked about it at the beginning of the year,” Freed said of going undefeated in subdistrict play. “We have been so focused on getting better each week and these are teams we don’t get to see in the playoffs, so you want to leave your mark on the season.”

Getty added: “It’s a huge win for us and I’m so proud of the seniors and our leadership.”

Warriors 15, Alexandria 14

Key: Warriors score 15 unanswered points to steal the win.

Subdistrict: Brd 4-0, Alex 1-2.

Overall: Brd 4-2, Alex 1-4.

Next: Brainerd at Rogers 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7.

Brainerd 0 0 0 15 — 15

Alexandria 0 3 3 8 — 14

Second quarter

Alex-Daniel Jackson 25-yard field goal 3:05

Third quarter

Alex-Jackson 52-yard field goal 2:27

Fourth quarter

Alex-Andrew Flaten 3-yard run (Hennen run) 9:30

Brd-Eli Hoelz 9-yard pass from Marcello Getty (Bennett Bernander kick) 6:55

Brd-Safety 2:12

Brd-Sean Holbrook 12-yard pass from Getty (pass failed) 1:21

Team statistics

Rushes-yards: Brd 34-3, Alex 33-78

Pass comp-att-int-yds: Brd 18-25-188, Alex 10-25-75

Total offense: Brd 59-188, Alex 58-153

Individual leaders

Rushing: Brd-Damien Bentho 22-33, Eli Hoelz 3-6, Dillon MacLaughlin 2-4; Alex-Andrew Flaten 14-60, Walker Hennen 12-23

Passing: Brd-Marcello Getty 17-24-149; Alex-Chase Thompson 10-25-75

Receiving: Brd-Eli Hoelz 9-74, Nolan Johnson 2-42, Jake Merseth 3-39, Sean Holbrook 2-17, Damien Bentho 2-13; Alex-Walker Hennen 1-32, Kaydn Walker 4-21

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or conrad.engstrom@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.

Started at the Dispatch in June of 2019.
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