In the last home game of the regular season, the Mayer Lutheran football team hosted Minnesota River Conference rival Watertown-Mayer on Oct. 11. The Royals kept the Crusaders off balance and led the entire game, taking down LHS 27-17.
Mayer Lutheran head coach Dean Aurich said Watertown-Mayer took advantage of the Crusaders’ mistakes and controlled the game.
“Just about the time we would get on track, we should step backwards with a turnover or a penalty,” he said. “Watertown is a good football team and did what they needed to do to keep us off balanced.”
The Royals were first on the board in the first quarter on a 65-yard touchdown pass. Mayer Lutheran responded with a 25-yard field goal by senior kicker Chad Anenson to trail 7-3 after one quarter.
The second quarter mirrored the first. The Royals threw a touchdown pass, this one 10 yards, before LHS was on the board against with a one-yard touchdown rush by senior quarterback Cole Buttenhoff. Watertown-Mayer led 13-10 at halftime.
The Royals scored in the third quarter on a three-yard pass, while also shutting down the LHS offense and leaving the Crusaders scoreless. A one-yard touchdown run gave Watertown-Mayer the 27-10 lead in the fourth quarter before Buttenhoff connected with senior receiver Anthony Gruenhagen on a one-yard pass to bring LHS to 17 points. The clock would expire before LHS could put together another run and the game went in favor of Watertown-Mayer 27-17.
Offensively, Buttenhoff completed 15 of 32 pass attempts for 182 yards and one touchdown. He also threw one interception. Senior Joel Burfeind attempted one pass, throwing an interception.
Burfeind led the LHS rushing attack with 87 yards on 19 carries. Buttenhoff took the ball himself 10 times for 36 yards and one touchdown. Senior Nathan Weber tallied 29 yards on eight carries.
Gruenhagen and senior Matt Huinker were the top receivers for LHS, each with four catches. Huinker tallied 72 yards, while Gruenhagen had 52 yards and one touchdown. Burfeind had five receptions for 35 yards, while junior Taylor Otterstatter had two receptions for 23 yards.
Mayer Lutheran totalled 243 offensive yards, 127 rushing, 116 passing, on 43 plays. Comparatively, the Royals 34 total yards of offense and 70 plays.
The Crusader defense sacked Watertown-Mayer’s quarterback four times, with plays by senior Mason Diedrick (2), Otterstatter, and sophomore Sam Schlueter. Andrew Wolf converted a fumble, while Weber and Buttenhoff led in tackles.
The Crusaders’ final regular season game was Oct. 16 at Sibley East. Aurich said the Wolverines are very disciplined and run a conservative game plan.
“We need to stop their aggressive north and south running game and we need to make plays on offense to keep them off balance,” he said.
The postseason begins Oct. 22 and Mayer Lutheran will get a taste of its new section and class. The Crusaders will compete in Section 4A along with Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa, Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg, Kimball, Minneapolis North Community, and Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity.
“Hopefully we can learn from our mistakes and play our best ball in the playoffs,” Aurich said.
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