Prep football: Late field goal lifts St. Croix Lutheran over Proctor in state semifinal

MINNEAPOLIS -- For 47 minutes and 57 seconds, Proctor and St. Croix Lutheran exchanged body blows in a scoreless slugfest Saturday afternoon at the Metrodome.

Proctor football
Proctor running back Joe Carter (4) fights off St. Croix Lutheran linebacker David Ponath in the fourth quarter of a Minnesota Class AAA state semifinal game Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013 at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. St. Croix Lutheran won 3-0. (Andy Clayton-King / For the News Tribune)

MINNEAPOLIS -- For 47 minutes and 57 seconds, Proctor and St. Croix Lutheran exchanged body blows in a scoreless slugfest Saturday afternoon at the Metrodome.

The knockout punch finally arrived with three seconds remaining when Alex Bornschlegl kicked a short field goal to send the Crusaders to a 3-0 victory in a defense-dominated Class AAA state tournament semifinal.

"We sure like offense, but that was just a spectacular defensive game," said St. Croix Lutheran coach Carl Lemke, whose team will face New London-Spicer in the Nov. 30 Prep Bowl. "It's too bad somebody had to lose a game like that."

Bornschlegl had missed a 40-yard field goal attempt early in the fourth, but there was no doubt about his 22-yard game-winner.

"I said a prayer to my Lord, and He let me do it," the 6-foot-3 junior said.


That the Rails (9-3) were so close to their first title game appearance was improbable by itself, considering they were outgained 281-86 in total offensive yardage. Many of those yards came on Proctor's first play from scrimmage when running back Joe Carter broke loose for a 26-yard scamper.

But the senior standout, who came into Saturday having piled up 455 rushing yards in his previous two games, found little room to operate the rest of the afternoon. Carter said St. Croix Lutheran's overwhelming speed closed running lanes before they opened.

"Their defense played an amazing game," said Carter, who finished with 51 yards. "They were very fast. We haven't faced a team like that this year and we just couldn't adjust."

The Rails' bend-but-don't-break defense was pretty stellar itself. Despite being on the field for nearly 30 minutes, Proctor's defense matched the Crusaders' physicality and gave the Section 7AAA champs a chance to steal it.

Calen Porter led the Rails with 15 tackles, and Logan Ecklund added 13. Proctor's defense, which has feasted on turnovers this season -- averaging 2.45 per game before Saturday -- forced a second-quarter fumble, but the Rails couldn't capitalize as they did so often while winning nine games this fall.

Proctor coach Derek Parendo said he never worried about his defense running out of gas, even as it kept trudging back onto the Metrodome turf looking to slow an offense renowned for its quickness.

"Honestly, no I didn't," Parendo said. "I think the popular answer would be yes, but I had all the confidence in those guys."

Hans Klingenschmitt led the Crusaders with 135 yards on the ground, while Trever Koester had 79.


Proctor, in its seventh state tournament, was playing in the semifinals for the first time. Parendo credited his hefty collection of seniors for pushing the program to new heights, even if it means enhanced expectations going forward.

"I told the seniors, 'thanks for making our job harder next year,' " Parendo joked. "We're very, very proud of our kids."

As the Metrodome limps toward its ultimate February demise, when the 31-year-old stadium will be torn down, Parendo noted his team's new goal for 2014: "Our goal next year is to get to TCF," he said of the Minnesota Gophers' home that will host next year's Prep Bowl.

The Rails, who gained just 30 yards in the second half Saturday, had one final chance when they got the ball on their own 20-yard line with 3:57 remaining, but they went three-and-out.

The Crusaders took over and quarterback David Ponath completed his second pass of the afternoon, a 30-yarder to Caleb Olson that put the ball at Proctor's 16 with just under two minutes to go. St. Croix Lutheran's next five plays, all runs, netted just 11 yards, but the Crusaders were close enough for Bornschlegl.

Parendo used two timeouts in an attempt to ice the kicker -- to no avail.

All the Rails could do was look on helplessly as St. Croix Lutheran executed a perfect snap and Bornschlegl did the rest.

"I was watching and hoping," Parendo said.


"It was disappointing to see it end like that," Carter added.

Lemke didn't know what to expect from his teenage kicker in such a pressure-packed situation.

"Are you kidding?" Lemke said. "That's a high school kid and he had all the time in the world to think about it. Hat's off to him."

Proctor 0-0-0-0--0

St. Croix Lutheran 0-0-0-3--3

SCL -- Alex Bornschlegl 22 field goal

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