Momentum shift in second half gives Trojans 38-23 win
Class AA Semifinal
Barnesville 38, Jackson County Central 23
by Bryan Zollman
After a great first half in which they built a 15-6 lead, Jackson County Central received the ball to start the second half.
But on the first play from scrimmage sophomore quarterback Roman Voss was injured and minutes later carted off the field. Senior Brenan Runge, who played the first four games of the season while Voss recovered from an injury, came in to lead the offense.
But after a Runge fumble, Barnseville took over possession on the Jackson County Central 37. On fourth down Zach Bredman hit Gannon Bolgrean on a 13-yard score. A two-point conversion made it 15-14. More importantly, it created a momentum shift that Barnesville never relinquished.
After another JCC fumble, the Trojans responded with another 4th down conversion on a statue of liberty play with Bredman handing off to Cameron Halverson who scampered into the corner of the end zone for a 22-15 lead.
“I thought we played a heckuva first half,” said Jackson County Central Head Coach Tom Schuller. “We had a lot of adversity in the second half and we just couldn’t overcome it. You just can’t win football games with that many turnovers.”
Schuller said the statue of liberty play was “probably the play of the game.”
Barnesville carried the momentum the rest of the way adding two more touchdowns before Jackson County Central added a late score for a 38-23 final.
Barnesville’s Peyton Amundson caused two of the fumbles that led to Trojan touchdowns.
“I was just thinking we need the ball back.,” he said. “I was just playing my game and I hit them and they dropped the ball twice.”
Bredman said the defense came up big, giving the Trojan offense great field position on consecutive possessions.
“Having a defense that can create turnovers is huge,” he said. “We rely on them. Once our offense is rolling we are tough to stop.”
Losing Voss was tough not just from a game standpoint, but an emotional one as well. He was carted off the field with what appeared could be a very serious injury. The players and coaches later learned that he was cleared of any neck injury, which was the concern as he was being carted off.
“It’s tough,” said senior running back Seth Stai on seeing his teammate go down. “He’s a big part of our offense and defense. He’s a wonderful athlete and wonderful kid. I’m just glad he’s okay. Sometimes life is bigger than football.”
Coach Schuller echoed Stai’s comments.
“The great news is I think he’s cleared and I think his neck is completely good,” he said. “We are thankful for that. That’s more important than the football game. We are disappointed losing the football game. At the end of the day if we have to take one or the other I’ll take him being okay.”
Barnesville won the turnover game 4-1 and that proved to be the difference. They scored 24 points off those turnovers.
“Football is a game of momentum,” said Bolgrean. “We had more turnovers and that’s how we won.”
Schuller said he was proud of his seniors and the work they put in to get to this game. He knew they would have to play a near flawless game to get past Barnesville.
“All these guys and a bunch of others put in a ton of time,” he said, referencing 5:30 a.m. weightlifting sessions. “We tell these kids they deserve to win and we set out goal of winning every single game. We were chasing perfection and we got excellence. We will be back next year.”
Barnesville finished with 359 yards of total offense, led the running of Bolgrean (14 rushes for 80 yards) and Halverson (10 rushes for 79 yards and 2TD). Major Ness also ran in for a touchdown and caught a TD pass from Bredman. Bredman finished 8-for-15 passing with 115 yards and two touchdowns. Bolgrean also caught a touchdown to help lead the Trojan offense.
Stai led Jackson County Central with 74 yards on 17 carries and three scores. Voss had 15 rushes for 59 yards when he was injured and had to leave the game. Runge was 6-for-16 passing with one interception. Ben Dahlin led receivers with five catches for 51 yards.
Jackson County Central finished their season 12-1. Barnesville will play for the Class AA championship against the winner of Cannon Falls and Eden Valley-Watkins at 1 p.m. Saturday.