With his team ahead by two touchdowns in the first half on Tuesday, White Bear Lake quarterback Eric Gebeke readied to take the field and extend the lead over Irondale.
But Bears teammate Josh Tismer had other ideas. Back to receive Irondale's third consecutive punt in the first half, Tismer broke right and went 55 yards for a touchdown.
The play provided a spark that the Knights were powerless to extinguish as the No. 4 seed Bears rolled to a 28-7 victory against No. 5 seed Irondale in the Class 5A, Section 2 quarterfinals. White Bear Lake scored all four touchdowns in a lopsided first half.
"No doubt that play fired us up," Gebeke said of Tismer's punt return. "We were all getting ready to go in on offense, he scored that and we were like, 'Dang it, we've got to sit down for another drive.'"
Tismer had more success stopping the Bears in the first half than Irondale did. They scored on their first two possessions and out-gained Irondale 208 yards to 71 in the first half. The Bears picked up 11 first downs compared with only two for the Knights, who scored a combined 70 points in the past two games.
"I think we've been waiting for a complete game," Tismer said. "Offense, defense and special teams, I think we got that tonight."
Gebeke made an impact on White Bear Lake's first two scoring drives in the first quarter. One play after absorbing a roughing- the-passer penalty, Gebeke slipped through the Irondale defense for a 17-yard touchdown run.
On the next drive, Gebeke moved the Bears with two of his three completions in the first half, including a 24-yard strike to Bernard Vinson. The Bears went ahead on the first of Joe Nasvik's two short touchdown runs in the first half.
Nick Truen also helped move the chains, leading the Bears with 50 yards rushing on seven carries in the first half.
"We're big on trying to get a tempo as an offense," Gebeke said. "We focused on playing well right off the bat, and I think we did."
Irondale's lone offensive high point came on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Justus Canfield to Ryan Schwartz in the fourth quarter.