The West Central Area/Ashby football team held a high-powered Moose Lake-Willow River offense to just six points and scored just enough to advance to the state semifinals, which is slated for Friday, Nov. 19, at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The Knights will play Maple Lake at 11:30 a.m. Friday at the home of the Minnesota Vikings.
ML-WR averages over 50 points per game coming into Thursday, Nov. 11’s contest against WCA/A, which was up 14-0 at the end of the third quarter.
“I really think we just played with a ton of heart both last game and (Thursday),” Knight coach Nate Wood said. “The kids just believed in themselves, believed we were going to execute and believed we were going to win. It was awesome.”
The Evan Paulson to Cole Anderson connection was key in the victory. In the first half, Paulson connected with Anderson on a 66-yard catch, which set up the Knights’ first score, a three-yard touchdown run by Anthony Sykora. In the third quarter, Paulson found Anderson on a 24-yard strike for a touchdown to go up 14-0 after the same duo connected for the two-point conversion.
“We saw we could throw on them, so we just tried to take advantage of that,” senior quarterback Evan Paulson said.
“We didn’t know what the weather was going to be (Thursday). We were worried it was going to be windy or a blizzard and force us to be one-dimensional because we’ve been so balanced this year. Luckily, the kids just executed and we still threw the ball,” Wood added.
The Knight defense held the Rebels without a score until the 5:23 mark in the fourth quarter, but by then it was too little, too late as the Knights held on to win, advance to the state semifinals and improve to 10-1 on the season.
Paulson threw over nearly 240 yards on just 11 completions. Torin Olson had three of those receptions for 102 yards while Anderson had four for 92 yards.
The defense was led by Hunter Norby’s six tackles and Nas Dotts, who had 1.5 tackles for loss in the game.
The Knights look to punch their ticket to the Class 2A State Championship when they face Maple Lake Friday morning.
“We’re stoked as a team, but the goal stays the same,” Cole Anderson said. “We’re going to go in there and finish and get business done. Our confidence is high. We know we’re good too. We’re all good here now. We know what we have to do, and if we execute our game plan, put together a full game, we’re going to be hard to stop.”
WCA/A – 14
ML/WR – 6
TOTALS – Moose Lake-WR – Offense – 55-214; Passing – 5-12, 50 yards; Rushing – 43-164; Penalties – 4-30; Turnovers – 1; WCA-Ashby – Offense – 52-319; Turnovers – 1
WCA-ASHBY OFFENSE – Passing – Evan Paulson – 11-16, 239 yards, TD; Rushing – Anthony Sykora – 17-61, TD; Mattson Hoff – 7-25; Hunter Norby – 3-5; Evan Paulson – 7-(-11); Receiving – Torin Olson – 3-104; Cole Anderson – 4-92, TD; Sykora – 3-31; Hoff – 1-12
WCA-ASHBY DEFENSE – Hunter Norby – 6 tackles, 1 TFL; Sykora – 5.5 tackles; Tyler Stone – 3.5 tackles, 1.5 TFL; Nas Dotts – 3.5 tackles, 1.5 TFL; Carson Spangler – 3 tackles; Mattson Hoff – 2.5 tackles, 1 TFL; Beau Robinson – 2.5 tackles, 0.5 TFL; Cole Anderson – 2 tackles; Reubens Swanson – 1.5 tackles; Sam Heeter – 1 tackle; Torin Olson – 1 tackle; Brady Lindquist – 1 tackle; Colton Lindquist – 1 tackle