It may not have been a well-executed game last week for the Crusader football team, but it was successful, as they came away with a 43-14 victory at No. 10 (2A) Sibley East.
“I don’t think I have ever coached a game when we had so many penalties and still won,” said Mayer Lutheran head coach Dean Aurich.
Fumbling the opening kick off, in which Sibley East scored a few plays later, it was a rough start to the Sept. 7 game. But the Crusaders turned things around on the next play, as Joel Burfeind had an 85-yard kickoff return for the touchdown.
Later in the quarter, senior Jeremiah Grimsley completed a 23-yard pass to senior Tanner Luebke for the second Mayer Lutheran touchdown. With a 28-yard interception, senior Philip Burfeind scored to put the Crusaders up 21-7 to end the first quarter.
Shutting down Sibley East in the second quarter, the Crusaders posted two more touchdowns, the first a 47-yard run by Joel Burfeind. Grimsley and Luebke teamed up again on a 43-yard pass for the second. The Crusaders led 35-7 at halftime.
It continued to be a Mayer Lutheran dominant game in the third quarter as the Crusaders first scored a safety through junior Mason Diedrick, who made the tackle in the end zone. Later, Philip Burfeind would run in the Crusaders’ sixth, and final, touchdown, a 35-yard run. Sibley East would score one touchdown in the fourth quarter, but could not catch the Crusaders, who ran away with the 43-14 victory.
Despite the success on the scoreboard, the Crusaders played a penalty-filled second half, with 19 penalties for a loss of 170 yards. Turnovers were another factor in the game, as the Crusaders recovered five fumbles and one interception. They had only one fumble of their own, the opening kickoff.
The Crusaders had 322 total offensive yards (169 rushing, 153 passing) compared to the Wolverines’ 196 yards (162 rushing, 34 passing). Grimsley completed 11 of 14 passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns. Junior Chad Anenson executed five of six extra point attempts; the sixth was blocked in the third quarter. Junior Anthony Gruenhagen received eight passes for 77 yards, followed by Luebke’s two receptions for 66 yards and two touchdowns. Philip Burfeind also had a reception for 10 yards. Rushing leaders included Joel Burfeind (73 yards, one touchdown), Philip Burfeind (57 yards, one touchdown), and Grimsley (34 yards). Tackle leaders included junior Cole Buttenhoff (10), Grimsley (5), and Joel Burfeind (4).
Aurich said the Crusaders have some work ahead of them in the coming weeks.
“We also need to refocus and cut down on our penalties and mistakes,” he said. “Our defense is playing very aggressive and really putting pressure on the QB.”
The Crusaders face off against LeSueur-Henderson this Friday, Sept. 14 at home. The Giants are 1-1 this season, after losing their season opener at St. Peter. However, they are fresh off a tight 29-26 victory over Norwood Young America last week and will be out for the battle. The Crusaders are 2-0 this season, 1-0 in the Minnesota River Conference.