Andale holds off Collegiate for Division IV victory
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A built-in excuse was waiting for Andale if the ending of Friday night’s clash with Collegiate did not end well.
Most starters went down at least once with a cramp. A few more left the game due to injury. Unproven backups and underclassmen were forced into play.
All of this while the Indians, the No. 2 team in Class 4A, were trying to beat a quality Collegiate team on its home turf.
The result of all this was not an understandable collapse, but a display of resiliency that even the Andale players admitted after their 30-28 victory was surprising. They knew they were tough — but that tough?
“I think a lot of people finally broke that mental block tonight,” Andale senior lineman Trever Buckner said. “We kept going when it started to hurt and we powered through it. We’re a better team because of it.”
It’s fair to say both teams are after a contest like this.
Each team scored four touchdowns, but Andale’s three two-point conversions proved to be the difference. It became a major factor after the Indians’ final touchdown, a Jared Smarsh keeper from 15 yards out, when Hank Eck strolled in and pushed the lead to 30-21 — a two-score difference — with 11:56 remaining.
This triggered the fast-paced Collegiate offense to speed up even more, resulting in a touchdown in less than four minutes to cut the lead to 30-28.
A bit of drama was induced when the Spartans’ defense produced a stand to give its offense one last chance, even it was starting at their own 5-yard line with 1:46 left.
“We competed very, very well,” Collegiate coach Mike Gehrer said. “That was a very, very tough battle and I’m proud of how our guys competed.”
The game’s two stars — Collegiate quarterback Landon Root (266 passing yards, 320 total) and Andale do-everything Hunter Knoblauch (one touchdown, two interceptions) — traded big play after big play, but it was Knoblauch and the Indians that produced the final one.
When Andale needed a big play, it was Knoblauch who came up with an interception with 38 seconds left to effectively end the game.
“I was scared because I knew how good Collegiate was,” Andale coach Gary O’Hair said. “But watching our kids out there, I could just tell. They were reaching down and digging with everything they had.”
Before their defense proved themselves, it was the Indians’ offense that responded with a game-defining moment.
After seeing a 16-play, 8-minute drive end without points, instead of shrinking, Andale took its next possession and marched in for a touchdown in two plays on a Smarsh 31-yard keeper to take a 14-13 lead in the second quarter.
“I learned that I’m with a strong team here,” said Smarsh, who rushed for three touchdowns and added 144 yards on the ground. “I know now that we can work through adversity and that’s one big thing you have to have to win a state championship.”
The loser of this game did not see their state championship hopes dashed.
Instead, Andale and Collegiate both discovered something that gives both optimism moving forward.
“I knew coming in that we were talented,” O’Hair said. “Now I know I’ve got some tough kids that have some serious heart.”
A — H. Knoblauch 32 run (Johnson kick failed)
C — Williams 4 run (Winter kick failed)
C — Carder 1 run (Winter kick)
A — Smarsh 31 run (Eck run)
C — Locke 10 pass from Root (Carder pass from Root)
A — Smarsh 1 run (Horsch pass from Smarsh)
A — Smarsh 15 run (Eck run)
C — Williams 4 run (Winter kick)
Rushing — Andale, Smarsh 16-144, H. Knoblauch 15-118, Eck 5-28, Reichenberger 9-27, Capul 4-24, Hein 1-5, B. Knoblauch 1-5, Elpers 1-3; Collegiate, Root 13-54, Williams 13-52, Carder 7-17.
Passing — Andale, H. Knoblauch 1-1-0-12, Smarsh 1-3-0-7; Collegiate, Root 17-29-2-266.
Receiving — Andale, Hermreck 1-12, Walstad 1-10; Collegiate, B. Waddell 8-111, Copher 4-96, Carder 2-22, Williams 1-21, Locke 1-10, Flamini 1-6.