For three quarters on Oct. 16, the game between the Mayer Lutheran and Sibley East football teams was a close one.
Mayer Lutheran was first on the board, with 14 first-quarter points. Senior quarterback Cole Buttenhoff connected with junior receiver Taylor Otterstatter on a 10-yard pass for the first touchdown of the game. Later in the quarter, Buttenhoff found senior Joel Burfeind on a 29-yard pass for a 14-0 LHS lead.
Sibley East responded with two touchdowns and a field goal in the second quarter, unanswered by Mayer Lutheran. The Wolverines held a 17-14 halftime lead, thanks to an onside kick recovery that led to Sibley East’s second touchdown.
“The first quarter we dominated and took a 14-0 lead,” LHS head coach Dean Aurich said. “Second and third quarter, they took control with their wishbone offense. They took a lot of time off the clock and ran the ball 2-4 yards each play.”
But an onside kick recovery for Mayer Lutheran in the second half would swing the pendulum of momentum in the Crusaders’ favor. Stalemated 0-0 in the third quarter, the Crusader offense exploded in the fourth quarter for 20 unanswered points and the eventual 34-17 win.
Buttenhoff threw a 40-yard pass to Burfeind for one touchdown, before Burfeind ran in the second TD of the quarter on a 23-yard rush. Senior Chad Anenson snagged an interception late in the game and returned it 42-yards for a Crusader touchdown.
At quarterback, Buttenhoff completed 16 of 22 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns. Seven of Buttenhoff’s passes were caught by senior Anthony Gruenhagen, who racked up 106 receiving yards for the game. Burfeind had 88 yards on four receptions, two of which were for touchdowns. Otterstatter’s sole reception was also a Crusader touchdown. Senior Matt Huinker caught three passes for 22 yards, while Weber had one 23-yard reception.
Burfeind had a 100-yard rushing night with 24 carries and one touchdown. Also rushing for LHS was Buttenhoff (8 carries, 14 yards) and senior Nathan Weber (4 carries, 29 yards). Total, the Crusaders piled up 392 offensive yards and scored five touchdowns on 58 plays.
On defense, Huinker and Anenson each snagged an interception. Anenson returned his for the final TD of the game. Otterstatter, senior Mason Diedrick, and sophomore Sam Schlueter led Mayer Lutheran in tackles.
With the win over Sibley East, the Crusaders finished the regular season 5-3. With a 4-3 Minnesota River Conference record, the Crusaders finished fourth, behind a three-way tie for the conference crown between Tri-City United, Belle Plaine, and Watertown-Mayer (6-1).
The Crusaders were seeded No. 4 in the Section 4A tournament, which began Oct. 22. Mayer Lutheran hosted No. 5 Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity and Aurich said the Bulldogs are a talented team with an experienced quarterback.
“Both teams are 5-3 and we need to play a clean, mistake-free game to give us a chance to move on,” Aurich said Monday.
The Bulldogs finished 3-2 in the Gopher Valley A Conference and have won their last three games. The winner of Tuesday’s game advances to play the winner of No. 1 Minneapolis North Community/No. 8 Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg on Oct. 26 at the higher seed.
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