Last night Northstar Football News took on the campus of St. Johns University in Collegeville to watch two Section 4 finals in 2A and 1A. This game recap will cover the Eden Valley-Watkins/Paynesville game from top to bottom.
The game started as Paynesville threw the Eagles a curveball with an onside kick that Eden Valley-Watkins recovered easily. After getting a first down, the Eagles struggled to get another first down until 3rd down came around. On a 3rd and 8, Eden Valley-Watkins QB Luke Jansen trucked ahead for a 9-yard gain to give the Eagles the moment on the Bulldogs side of the field. After a big tackle for a loss by Grady Fuchs, the Eagles were forced to punt. After a booming punt #forthebrand down to the Bulldogs 1-yard line, the Eagles defense got to work. There was a questionable call that probably should have caused a safety for the Bulldogs, but they punted to the Eagles and gave them good field position on the Paynesville side of the 50. We then saw a crucial pass interference call by DB Tanner Stanley of Paynesville which put the ball within striking distance of the end zone for the Eagles. After getting the ball close to the end zone, Eagles QB Luke Jansen found the smallest player on the field WR Connor Lincoln for an Eagles touchdown with 3:34 left in the 1st quarter to put Eden Valley-Watkins up 8-0 over a Paynesville team that beat them 46-8 during the regular season. Paynesville would have one more 3 and out and then punted back to EV-W. Eagles RB Mason Molitor had a key fumble to end the first quarter to give Paynesville the ball back with great field position before the start of the 2nd quarter, as the Eden Valley-Watkins Eagles would take their lead into the end of the 1st quarter, 8-0.
To start the 2nd quarter, the Paynesville Bulldogs kicked it into high gear. QB Grady Fuchs would find a big gap from his hog mollies on the offensive line to get a Bulldogs touchdown. After 3 attempts on the 2-point conversion, Paynesville would fall short and the Eagles would lead 8-6. On the 2-point conversion, we had a crucial injury from LB Jared Geislinger who had a head injury. Geislinger would be carted off the field in what was a scary site from Clemens Stadium that would take a 45-minute delay to the game. After an extended break in the action and some warmups, the Eagles got the kickoff. After one key penalty by the Bulldogs of Paynesville, they got the ball back and Fuchs and the gang got to work. Paynesville QB Grady Fuchs found his primary target, WR Levi Bast for a 31-yard reception to get the ball deep into Eagles territory. With the ball on the 14-yard line, Fuchs found Bast again for the touchdown to put the Bulldogs in front 14-8 over Eden Valley-Watkins. After the touchdown, Eagles QB Luke Jansen found another target in WR Gavin Mathies for a big 39-yard gain to get the ball on the Paynesville’s half of the field. Then Jansen switched gears and found his biggest target on the field this time, 6’8 WR Josh Streit for a touchdown for the Eagles and they would make their extra point to put them up 15-14 over Paynesville. Off that touchdown, Paynesville offense found a few holes in the Eagles defense with a big throw by Fuchs to WR Carter Wessel to set the Bulldogs up to score before the half. With the ball on the 36-yard line of the Eagles, Paynesville got the ball to RB Daltin Christinsen for a 34-yard gain, but it was wiped out by a holding penalty by the Bulldogs. Eden Valley-Watkins would take their lead in half with a score of 15-14 over Paynesville.
To start the 2nd half, Eagles QB Luke Jansen threw an interception to Daltin Christinsen, which changed the momentum of the game to the Bulldogs. Paynesville’s first lead of the game would be added on by QB Grady Fuchs with his 2nd touchdown of the day to put the Bulldogs on top 20-15. After the Eagles got the ball back, the Bulldogs forced a fumble and got the ball back thanks to DB Tanner Stanley, who made his game a lot better with this key play after some first-half penalties. The Bulldogs would then turn the ball over when DB Josh Streit got in the picture. After a 3 and out, the Bulldogs got the ball on their 34-yard line. This was when the play of the game happened when Eagles DB Armando Walker took a Fuchs pass to the house for a pick-six which put Eden Valley-Watkins up 21-20 with 47 seconds left in the 3rd.
After a 3 and out for Paynesville, a throw from QB Luke Jansen of the Eagles would find WR Connor Lincoln for 20+yards but, the ball would pop loose on a fumble and was recovered by DB Levi Bast who would pick it up and take it into Eden Valley-Watkins territory, to start icing the cake for the Paynesville Bulldogs. The final touchdown would be scored by no one other than QB Grady Fuchs with 5:01 left in the 4th quarter of his 3rd touchdown of the day. The Eagles would have one last chance to ruin the party for Paynesville, but an errant snap on 3rd down would put their hopes of the state tournament to rest. After punting and on a 4th and 14, the Eagles got offsides which would punch the Paynesville Bulldogs ticket to the state tournament.
Paynesville (9-1) will play the Moose Lake-Willow River Rebels (8-2) next Friday at North Branch High School at 7:00 PM in the state quarterfinals. Eden Valley-Watkins will finish 6-4 after a great improvement compared to their last game against Paynesville.
Be on the lookout for Nate’s Big Dogs of the Week coming up next on Northstar Football News!