1A: Mahnomen grinds way to title over Bethlehem Academy

  • Article by: JASON GONZALEZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 24, 2012 - 11:37 PM

The Indians stalled Bethlehem Academy and dominated the ball.

A boring offense is good enough for Mahnomen.

The Indians bored Bethlehem Academy all morning with long drives built around short runs and held the ball long enough to limit any damage. The result, though, was more than exciting.

Mahnomen stalled Bethlehem Academy just enough to claim a 20-14 victory and the Class 1A state championship, its seventh in program history, Saturday at the Metrodome.

"It was an offense of long, boring drives," running back Garret Hoffner said. "Other teams can't score when you have the ball."

Time of possession was much more one-sided than the final score. The Indians held the ball for 31:20 compared with the Cardinals' 16:40. Hoffner was responsible for extending many of Mahnomen's drives, helping convert 10 of 15 third downs and three of three fourth downs.

An intensified week of practice provided the Indians the endurance needed to finish out a perfect 14-0 season. They wouldn't accept a late letdown like last week's semifinals.

"Last week we were dragging," Hoffner said. "This game we were full of energy but sustained it throughout."

An eight-play touchdown drive with two minutes remaining in the game showed Mahnomen coach John Clark Jr. that his team had made the necessary adjustments. Quarterback Jacob Pavek called an audible on fourth-and-5, opting to make one of his five passes for a 23-yard score and what would hold as the winning touchdown.

"They didn't think we'd pass. I saw it," said Pavek, who rushed for two touchdowns and threw for a third. "That won the game for us."

Bethlehem Academy immediately responded with its second touchdown, but only 39 seconds remained and an onside kick attempt failed.

The Cardinals didn't have enough time to make up for their scoreless first half. Quarterback Kyle Filzen took it upon himself to get more involved and collected 82 yards and a touchdown in the second half. He also connected with Tim Angell for a TD pass in the final minute.

"The offense was starting to click, but we couldn't stop them," Filzen said. "They were imposing their will on us. We let them do whatever they wanted to."

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