Warriors outlast Lynx in state title game, 35-20
Marso garners ‘Joe Robbie MVP’, ‘Outstanding Back’ awards
November 16. 2012 6:00AM
Pitting the state’s two best – and undefeated – Class 11AA football teams in the title game Saturday at the DakotaDome proved to be quite a show for football fans. With undefeated seasons on the line, both the Brandon Valley Lynx and Washington Warriors had big plans to bring home the first place hardware. In the end, it would be Washington who would claim the 35-20 victory.
The Lynx had their chances until a 42-yard touchdown run by Washington’s Nate Gerry in the fourth quarter sealed the win for the Warriors.
“Hats off to them (Washington). They made the plays they needed to win the game,” said Lynx quarterback Chase Marso, who garnered the “Joe Robbie Most Valuable Player” and “Most Outstanding Back” awards. The victory came in spite of the Lynx’s passing attack performing as advertised. Marso threw 63 times with 34 completions for 454 yards.
After both teams got their first possession jitters out of their systems, the Lynx went to work on a 5:40 drive that was capped off by a field goal attempt that went wide left.
The Warriors responded on a 10-play drive that resulted in a 3-yard QB keeper by Jon Hander to give Washington a 7-0 edge.
The Lynx offense rose to the occasion on their next series. Positioned at the 9, Marso steered the 10-play drive, connecting with senior Matt Vandeberg on a 27-yard TD pass and followed up with PAT kick to make it a 7-7 game with 6:49 to play in the second quarter.
Both teams would score one more time before the half. The Warriors added seven points in an odd way on their next possession. Washington’s Chris Parker caught Vandeberg’s punt and was making minor progress when he was greeted by a pack of Lynx tacklers. Brandon Valley junior Anthony Pacheco caused Parker to cough up the ball, launching it into the air, only to be caught by Washington’s Zac Freese, who took it 54 yards for a score to make it 14-7 with 3:44 to go in the half.
For the third time in the first half, the Lynx moved the ball deep into Warrior territory. Demonstrating just how efficient the Marso-led passing game can be, the Lynx ran off 14 plays in 3:44. The progress stopped on the 5, however, and Marso kicked a field goal with three seconds left in the half to make it 14-10.
Lynx sophomore Nate Bennett set the stage for Brandon Valley’s go-ahead score in the second half. With Washington driving down field, Bennett recovered a fumble at the 19 and Marso needed just one play to find senior receiver Adam Bauer to give the Lynx the 17-14 advantage.
The Lynx tacked on three more points when Marso hit a field goal with 1:36 to play in the third quarter. It was a disappointing outcome for the Lynx, who moved the ball 59 yards in 10 plays.
“When we look back on this, that will probably be one of the things we’ll kick ourselves for is not being able to punch it in the goal line,” Marso said. “At the same time, we did everything in our power. They just made some stops.”
“We had them,” Lynx head coach Chad Garrow said. “Maybe if we could’ve converted on some of some of our times being down inside the 10 it could’ve been a different outcome. But credit to their crowd and to their defense.”
Brandon Valley’s field goal didn’t silence the Warriors, who answered with a momentum-changing 57-yard touchdown run from Sam Cooke to give Washington a 21-20 lead with 43 seconds left in the quarter.
With 8:36 to play and a one-point edge, Washington’s Hander ended a series of clock-crunching carries from Cooke, Danny Marlette and Gerry with a pass to Grant Larson from 28 yards out that made the score 28-20.
Washington would light up the board one more time when Chris Parker broke up a fourth-down Lynx pass and Gerry went around the end for the state title win.
While the final scoreboard told a different story, on paper, the Lynx matched wits with the Warriors. Brandon Valley had 22 first downs to Washington’s 15. Just as they have all season, Washington moved the ball more effectively on the ground than through the air, while Brandon Valley’s offensive attack was opposite. Marso, who passed for 454 yards and two TDs, completed 34 of 63 passes.
Brandon Valley’s ground game was limited to 43 yards, of which 16 were generated by Vandeberg in his three jaunts. Tony Tripp had 11 yards in four carries and Marso picked up 14 yards in eight rushing attempts.
With the Warrior defense keying in on Vandeberg all night, Marso utilized another Brandon Valley offensive weapon, senior Nate Winter, who hauled in 11 passes for 139 yards.
“It’s one of those things – you’ve got to step up,” Winter said. “Vandy’s always been the big time player this year but we’re playing the best team in the state and they’re going to know who to stop him.”
Washington rolled off 265 yards on the ground. Sam Cooke did the brunt of the work, gaining 97 yards in 13 carries. Gerry and Marlette had 39 and 70 yards, respectively. Hander picked up 29 yards in nine carries.
He registered just 66 yards in his passing game though, completing 6 of 11.
“It would’ve been nice if we could’ve got out and made them throw a little more,”
Garrow said. “But that’s not what they want to do. They want to do what they did at the end of the fourth quarter there when they were just pounding the ball. They just wore us out, that’s what they do a lot of.”
Lynx junior Jacob Adams led the defense with 10 tackles. Adam Guthmiller and Lucas Lunstra both produced nine, and Guthmiller forced a Warrior fumble. Tripp and Vandeberg both had four tackles to their credit, Adam Bauer and Trevor Arrowsmith both recorded three.
The Lynx end their season with an 11-1 mark and the ESD Conference title.
“They gave us a lot of respect,” Winter said of the Warriors. “No one respects the ESD schools, but I think we’ve finally proven that we aren’t a team to be messing with.”