BLUE EARTH - For the first time since St. Peter head coach Brian Odland took the reigns of the football team five years ago, the Saints managed to defeat the Blue Earth Area Bucs.
The Saints outlasted a lightning delay and the Class 3A, No. 6-ranked Bucs' 264 rushing yards to come away with the 21-20 overtime victory on Friday night at Wilson Field in Blue Earth.
"It is an emotional win for us tonight," said Odland. "In our two losses this season, we had bad second halves. And so all week we knew that against a great team like this, we would need to keep the intensity level up."
EVASIVE RUN — Blue Earth Area running back Gus Phillips (middle) works his way around St. Peter defensive lineman Ronnie Pribyl (52) as Buc offensive lineman Kolt Gorg (right) during South Central Conference football action Friday night at Wilson Field in Blue Earth. Buc offensive lineman Dakota Jahnke (54) blocks St. Peter defender Alex Willson on the play. (Photo Courtesy of Kevin Mertens and Faribault County Register)
The Saints responded throughout the game to each Buc score, evening the game with 2:41 remaining to send it to overtime.
On the opening play of overtime, senior quarterback Tom Steidler, who ran 12 times in the game for 12 yards, scampered for 4 yards to put the ball on the 6-yard line for the Saints.
Keegan McCabe, who ran for 70 yards on 10 carries, used one of his runs to gain another yard for St. Peter.
On third and goal from the 5, Steidler found junior Chris Pettis in the corner of the end zone for the 5-yard TD strike.
Valtteri Kokiakoski then added to the Saints' first lead of the game with a PAT to make it 21-14.
"We were concerned about our intensity level after the delay, and we wondered how our players would respond," said Odland. "But we kept fighting. The great thing about the game tonight is that we had a lot of guys contribute to the win."
During the Bucs' overtime possession, quarterback Luke Schavey needed just one pass to wideout Bailey Olson for the 10-yard score to cut the Saints' deficit to 21-20.
Unfortunately for the Bucs, the PAT kick just missed, allowing the Saints to grab the victory.
"Tonight's game was a game of missed opportunities," said Blue Earth Area head coach Randy Kuechenmeister. "We had a chance to tie it at the end, but they made the plays when they needed to and got the win."
The Saints tied the game as the fourth quarter was winding to a close when McCabe raced 42 yards for the score.
St. Peter gained possession on the short field on its own 48, before Steidler - who completed 6 of 13 passes for 145 yards - found Brendan Reese along the sideline for a 10-yard pass.
McCabe then used his elusive speed to reach paydirt with 2:41 left in the game. Kokiakoski's kick sailed through the uprights to tie the game at 14-14.
Blue Earth Area's Gus Phillips scored the go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter, before the lightning delay on a 27-yard run.
Phillips, who ran 10 times for 121 yards in the game, ripped off a 23-yard run to start the opening drive of the second half for the Bucs.
Then David Franta, who gained 121 yards on 13 carries, then ground out a 15-yard gain for the Bucs to put the ball on the Saints' 31.
Schavey, who completed 7 of 17 passes for 109 yards, took to the ground for a 5-yard gain.
With the ball on the 27 after a fumbled snap, Phillips took the handoff and cut through the Saints' defense for the 27-yard score.
Justus Thelen's PAT kick gave the Bucs their second lead of the game at 14-7 with 8:56 left in the third.
"In the first half, we didn't seem to get great field position, and that makes it tough when you have to drive the length of the field for a score," said Kuechenmeister. "But we knew it'd be a close game tonight and it was."
The Bucs found the end zone first in the game, with Franta motoring through the Saints' defense for 59-yard TD.
After Blue Earth Area started the drive on the 8, Franta's 13-yard run helped move the Bucs into the Saints territory, before he raced into the end zone with 2:16 left in the first.
The Saints quickly evened the score when Steidler connected with Cody Erickson for a 59-yard completion on the third play of their drive to even it at 7-7 with 45 ticks left on the clock in the first quarter.
"Blue Earth Area is a great team, and it just feels great to be able to come away from this game with a win," said Odland. "Our players just kept coming back and fighting and it's great."
Blue Earth Area (3-2) hosts Fairmont next Friday night. St. Peter (4-2) hosts Luverne in a nonconference game next Friday.
St. Peter 7 0 0 7 7 - 21
B.E. Area 7 0 7 0 6 - 20
BEA - David Franta 59 run (Justus Thelen kick), 2:16.
STP - Cody Erickson 59 yard pass from Tom Steidler (Valtteri Korkiakoski kick), 0:45.
BEA - Gus Phillips 27 run (Thelen kick), 8:56.
STP - Keegan McCabe 42 run (Korkiakoski kick), 2:41.
STP - Chris Pettis 5 yard pass from Steidler (Korkiakoski kick).
BEA - Bailey Olson 10 yard pass from Luke Schavey (kick fail).
Rushing: St. Peter 26-126; BEA 41-264. Passing (Comp-Att-Int-Yards): St. Peter 6-13-2-145; BEA 7-17-1-109. Fumbles-lost: St. Peter 4-2; BEA 4-2. Penalties: St. Peter 1-10; BEA 1-5.
Offense: Rushing: David Franta (BEA) 13-121, Gus Phillips (BEA) 10-121, Keegan McCabe (STP) 10-70, Brendan Reese (STP) 5-41. Passing: Tom Steidler (STP) 6-13-2-145; Luke Schavey (BEA) 7-17-1-109. Receiving: Cody Erickson (STP) 2-59, Brett Zallek (STP) 1-54, Franta (BEA) 2-43, Calvin Sanders (BEA) 1-29.
Defense: Interceptions: Bailey Olson (BEA) 2, Steidler (STP).