ST. CLAIR - The No. 3 seed Martin County West Mavericks football team took its first lead of the Section 3A semifinals on Saturday in St. Clair when Austin Krumwiede ran in a 6-yard touchdown with 2:29 left in the game. An Anders Fuller PAT made it 21-20 with 2:39 seconds left.
The No. 2-seeded St. Clair Cyclones came charging back, driving 60 yards in 1:20, scoring on a 32-yard pass from Michael Nett to a wide-open Austin Nagel. A Nico Groenewold PAT put the Cyclones up 27-21 with 1:19 remaining.
The Maverick offense put together a 47-yard drive, and with the ball on the 18, had an opportunity to win the game.
Krumwiede threw a pass to Brandon Poppe, who was covered in the corner of the end zone with 5.2 seconds left on the clock. Unfortunately for MCW, St. Clair's Miklo Miller was able to snag the pass away from Poppe for an interception to end the game.
St. Clair (8-2) will travel to play No. 1-seeded Adrian (8-2) at 2:30 p.m. Friday at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.
The top-seeded Dragons reached the Section 3A championship game by defeating No. 5 seed Murray County Central 12-6 on Saturday in Adrian.
Martin County West finished its season with a 5-5 overall record.
"It's heart-wrenching to lose two years in a row in a game like this in the playoffs," said Martin County West head coach T.J. Schmidtke. "Last year was Springfield (a 28-27 loss) and it's hard."
The Cyclones struck first in the opening quarter to take the early 7-0 lead. A Mavericks' false start on fourth-and-three gave St. Clair the first down.
Cyclones' quarterback Blake Flowers capitalized and threw a 32-yard strike to Tyler Fandrich for the score at 8:04 in the first quarter.
St. Clair used the first 4:49 of the second quarter for a 10-play drive to add to its lead. With the ball at midfield, John Goebel pounded through the line for 11 yards, before Tyler Hauser raced around the left end for another 19 yards, putting the ball on the 6.
A false start by the Cyclones moved the ball to the 11. On the next play, Nett got the handoff and ran around the right end, with nothing but daylight in front of him. Nett tripped short of the end zone, giving St. Clair the ball back on the 6.
Goebel capped off the drive with a one-yard run for the score with 7:11 remaining in the half to make it 13-0.
Three plays later, MCW got on the scoreboard.
Krumwiede opened up the Mavericks' drive with an 11-yard screen pass to Mitch Sitzmann. With the ball on the Cyclones' 32, Krumwiede dropped back and threw a 68-yard pass through the middle of the Cyclones' defense to Poppe for the score to make it 13-6 with 6:45 left in the second quarter.
MCW's defense gave its offense another opportunity to score before the half, when it forced the Cyclones to make the first punt of the day.
The Mavericks' Alex Saxen took advantage, blocking the punt and putting the ball on the Cyclones' 37 for the offense.
St. Clair's defense denied MCW a first down, forcing a turnover on downs and eliminating the last threat before the half.
"Our players played hard, they battled back to take the lead," said Schmidtke. "We had tons of chances to score and didn't make plays. Their players made plays when they needed to."
Nett, who completed 5 of 7 passes for 125 yards, helped the Cyclones build on their 13-6 halftime lead with a 22-yard pass through MCW defensive back Sitzmann's hands and into the arms of Miller for the 20-6 lead with 2:25 left in the third quarter.
For the second time in the game, it took the Mavericks just two plays to score.
Krumwiede threw an incomplete pass on the opening play of the drive, before firing an 84-yard pass to Sitzmann along the Cyclones' sideline.
St. Clair's Miller dove at Sitzmann's heels, but the Maverick receiver motored past the defenders for the score. A 2-point conversion pass to Thor Larson made it 20-14 with 1:55 left in the third.
Krumwiede completed 16 of 37 passes for 296 yards, throwing three interceptions, and rushed 18 times for 27 yards.
Sitzmann had three carries for 66 yards and had nine catches for 169 yards.
St. Clair's Nett ran 24 times for 102 yards for the Cyclones' offense, while teammate Fandrich had three catches for 70 yards.
Nagel caught the game-winning touchdown from Nett, and made two interceptions for the Cyclones.
MCW 0 6 8 7 - 21
STC 7 6 7 7 - 27
STC - Tyler Fandrich 32 yard pass from Blake Flowers (Nico Groenewold kick), 8:04.
STC - John Goebel 1 run (kick fail), 7:11.
MCW - Brandon Poppe 32 yard pass from Austin Krumwiede (kick fail), 6:45.
STC - Miklo Miller 22 yard pass from Michael Nett (Groenewold kick), 2:25.
MCW - Mitch Sitzmann 84 yard pass from Krumwiede (Thor Larson pass), 1:55
MCW - Krumwiede 6 run (Anders Fuller kick), 2:39.
STC - Austin Nagel 32 yard pass from Nett (Groenewold kick), 1:19.
First Downs: MCW 23; STC 26. Rushing: MCW 23-49; STC 54-177. Passing (Comp-Att-Int-Yards): MCW 16-37-3-296; STC 5-7-0-125. Fumbles-lost: MCW 2-1; STC 1-1. Penalties: MCW 5-35; STC 3-13.
Offense: Rushing: Michael Nett (STC) 24-102; Mitch Sitzmann (MCW) 3-66; John Goebel (STC) 14-41; Austin Krumwiede (MCW) 18-27. Passing: Austin Krumwiede (MCW) 16-37-3-296; Michael Nett (STC) 5-7-0-125. Receiving: Mitch Sitzmann (MCW) 9-169; Brandon Poppe (MCW) 2-76; Tyler Fandrich (STC) 3-70; Cordell Weber (MCW) 5-51; Austin Nagel (STC) 1-33; Miklo Miller (STC) 1-22.
Defense: Interceptions: Austin Nagel 2 (STC) and Miklo Miller (STC).