It was a defense-intensive night on Sept. 14, as the Mayer Lutheran Crusaders faced off against the LeSueur-Henderson Giants in Class AA football, resulting in a narrow 9-7 victory for Mayer Lutheran.
“Both teams put pressure on the QB and made it very difficult to pass the ball,” said Mayer Lutheran head coach Dean Aurich. “[LeSueur-Henderson] fought hard for four quarters and it was a very close, intense game.”
Mayer Lutheran scored in the first quarter on a 38-yard touchdown run by junior Joel Burfeind. Junior Chad Anenson’s extra point attempt was good to put the Crusaders up 7-0. In the second quarter, the Giants posted a touchdown of their own, a 26-yard run by senior Peter Wagner. The game was tied 7-7 at halftime.
The second half was intense for spectators and the Crusaders alike. Numerous penalties slowed the Mayer Lutheran offense. And when the defense stepped in, as sophomore Taylor Otterstatter returned an interception for a touchdown, the play was called back, and the touchdown ruled no good, because of an early penalty.
The Crusaders were able to snag the victory early in the fourth quarter. After the Crusaders turned the ball over practically in their own end zone, junior Mason Diedrick stepped in on defense to earn a safety by tackling the Giants’ ball carrier in the end zone. The Crusaders would win the game, 9-7.
“We feel very fortunate to have won the close game,” Aurich said.
Senior quarterback Jeremiah Grimsley completed four of 14 attempted passes for 40 yards. Grimsley also threw two interceptions. Senior Tanner Luebke attempted one pass, throwing an interception.
Luebke was on the receiving end of two of Grimsley’s tosses, totaling 17 yards for Mayer Lutheran. Otterstatter (14 yards) and junior Anthony Gruenhagen (9 yards) each had a reception as well.
Burfeind led the Crusaders in rushing yards with 101 yards in 10 carries. He scored one touchdown. Senior Philip Burfeind had 94 rushing yards in 18 carries, while Grimsley rushed 16 yards. The Crusaders had 251 total offensive yards, 211 rushing and 40 passing. They scored nine points on 50 offensive plays.
On defense, tackle leaders included junior Nathan Weber (8 tackles), Diedrick (7, safety), Grimsley (7, fumble recovery), junior Cole Buttenhoff (6), and Otterstatter (4, interception, fumble recovery).
Mayer Lutheran is now 3-0 this season, and tops the Minnesota River Conference with its 2-0 record, along with Watertown-Mayer and Tri-City United, both of whom are also 3-0.
The Crusaders play at Tri-City United this Friday, Sept. 21.