Knights rush for 400-plus yards to stave off pesky Falcons
9-Player State Semifinal
Kingsland 36, Fertile-Beltrami 28
by Bryan Zollman
The Kingsland Knights remained undefeated in 9-player football by holding off a pestering Fertile-Beltrami squad in a 36-28 win in the state semifinals held at US Bank Stadium.
The Knights rushed for 417 yards on the day and staved off a late rally by Fertile-Beltrami thanks to an interception by Ayden Howard with just under two minutes to play.
The Knights were able to convert on a 4th and 2 play with under a minute to go and then kneeled to run out the remainder of the clock for the win.
Most of the game was a ground battle between Kingsland’s Beau Wiersma and Fertile-Beltrami’s Isaiah Wright. Wiersma scored the lone touchdown of the first quarter on a 64-yard jaunt to the end zone. He added another score to cap off a drive to start the second quarter for a 14-0 Kingsland lead.
But Fertile-Beltrami battled back with Wright scoring his first of four scores at the midway point of the second quarter. A failed two-point try made it a 14-6 game.
Wiersma then answered with his third TD of the game on a 12-yard score and a two-point conversion for a 22-6 halftime lead.
But the Falcons battled back again with Wright capping off their opening drive in the second half with a 55-yard TD run followed by a successful two-point conversion for a 22-14 deficit.
But the Knights countered with Wiersma scoring on a 47-yard run and a 30-14 lead midway through the third quarter.
At that point it seemed like the game might be slipping away from the Falcons, but once again they charged down the field and Wright capped off another drive with a 13-yard run and another conversion was good to make it a one-score game at 30-22.
In the fourth quarter the Knights decided to go through the air for their fifth and final score when quarterback Kaaleem Rieland hit Parker Johnson on a 10-yard pass. Johnson fumbled the ball at the goal line, and it was recovered by Fertile-Beltrami. But officials said Johnson did cross the plane of the goal, giving the Kings another two-possession lead at 36-22.
But Wright scored again on their next drive to make it 36-28 with plenty of time on the clock.
The Falcons just needed a stop and they got it when Caiden Swenby recovered a fumble on their own 29-yard line with just under three minutes to play.
But the Knights came up with a big defensive play of their own when Howard picked off a Swenby pass to seal the win and punch the Knights’ ticket to next weekend’s 9-player Prep Bowl.
Wiersma finished the game with 297 yards on 29 carries. Rieland added 115 yards on 20 carries. He was also 4-for-9 passing for 50 yards and a touchdown.
Wright finished with 184 yards on 21 carries for the Falcons. Swenby was 7-for-18 for 188 yards and two interceptions. Bryer Strem had three receptions for 146 yards.
Kingsland (13-0), will battle the winner of Nevis and Otter Tail Central in next week’s Prep Bowl.
Fertile-Beltrami finishes their season 12-1.
Photos from the game (by let’s Play Football):