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Frank Rajkowski / St. Cloud (Minn.) Times , Published November 02 2012

Spuds prevail for Class 5A, Section 8 football championship

COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. – The Sartell defense could not have done a much better job of bottling up Moorhead standout running back Chase Morlock than it did in the first half of the Minnesota Class 5A, Section 8 football championship game on Friday.

The second half was a different story.

The Spuds senior rushed for 183 of his 214 yards and four of his five touchdowns after halftime as Moorhead (10-0) scored 28 unanswered points to defeat the Sabres

35-21 in the first football game played under the newly installed lights at St. John’s University’s Clemens Stadium.

“We knew we had to tackle well to stop him,” said Sartell (7-3) senior quarterback Parker Hagen. “In the first half we did. In the second half, we didn’t.”

As a result, Moorhead advances to meet Class 5A, Section 7 champion Bemidji in the state quarterfinals at 6 p.m. next Saturday at St. Cloud State’s Husky Stadium. The Lumberjacks defeated Chisago Lakes 31-29 Friday.

“It was the whole team,” said Morlock of the Spuds’ second-half resurgence. “We picked up our intensity in the second half. Our coaches told us to stay calm. We knew the plays were there for us. We just had to make them.”

The Sabres held Morlock to just 31 yards rushing during a first half in which Sartell scored on its final two possessions to take a 21-7 halftime lead.

Hagen was especially impressive, finishing 8 of 9 passing for 157 yards and two touchdowns over the first two quarters.

“We had a lot of confidence going,” Hagen said. “We were pounding the ball pretty well on them and we had some success with our play-action passing. It just seemed like things were working.”

It was Morlock who set the tone on the first play of the second half, breaking several tackles at the line of scrimmage to rumble 37 yards and set up his own 4-yard touchdown run.

Then, after Moorhead picked off a pass on the first play of the Sabres’ next drive, the Spuds went 67 yards in seven plays to score on a 3-yard run by Morlock that tied the score at 21.

By that point, Moorhead had run 16 of the first 17 offensive plays from scrimmage in the third quarter.

“We stayed with the same game plan,” Spuds coach Kevin Feeney said. “We just started executing better. Really, the only change we made is telling the kids that we had to ride our horse. Number 25 (Morlock) has been our horse all year. And we made getting him the ball our main focus.”

The Moorhead defense also made life rough on Sartell, intercepting four passes in the second half alone.

“Turnovers will kill you against a good team,” said Sabres coach Scott Hentges, who led his team to the section championship game in his first year as the head coach. “And they made us pay for every one tonight.”

Then there was Morlock, who put the game away with touchdown runs of 6 and 81 yards in the fourth quarter. And he added an interception on the defensive side of the ball to boot.

“I knew we needed a momentum swing after the first half,” Morlock said. “So I just tried to go as hard as I could to make that happen.”

Sartell 7 14 0 0–21

Moorhead 0 7 14 14–35

S–Wenzel 27 pass from Hagen (Partch kick)

M–Morlock 1 run (Wiedrich kick)

S–Schoonmaker 11 pass from Hagen (Partch kick)

S–McAfee 5 run (Partch kick)

M–Morlock 4 run (Wiedrich kick)

M–Morlock 3 run (Wiedrich kick)

M–Morlock 6 run (Wiedrich kick)

M–Morlock 81 run (Wiedrich kick)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: S, McAfee 21-66, Hollenkamp 3-25, Neeser 1-10, Stachowski 1-4, Worzala 2-1, Hagen 7-1, Schoonmaker 1-(minus)1. M, Morlock 21-214, Benedict 9-49, Lawrence 6-27, Magnusson 1-4, Wheeler 1-(minus)1, Lien 4-(minus)6.

PASSING: S, Hagen 11-17-4 190. M, Lien 9-13-0 68, Porter 1-1-0 26.

RECEIVING: S, Wenzel 4-61, Neeser 3-48, McAfee 1-40, Schoonmaker 2-21, Worzala 1-20. M, Morlock 5-39, Wheeler 1-26, Porter 2-15, Lawrence 2-14.