Nicollet escapes with narrow win over Madelia
MADELIA – Kyle Schultz wishes he could have that last pass attempt back.
With less than four minutes to go and a one-point deficit to overcome, Schultz was hit right as he lobbed a pass down field into the hands of Nicollet’s Marshall Barrer on Friday.
Nicollet ran out the clock to defeat Madelia 21-20 to secure its ninth-straight victory in the 9-man rivalry dating back to 2007.
“We try to tell our kids that we want to embrace teams like this – in high school, sometimes kids have this hatred toward one another, but we want it to be a strong rivalry and we want to show respect,” said Nicollet coach Tom Murphy. “It was nice to see our kids battle back.
“It was a lot of fun. I’d rather be in this game than I would in a 60-point win.”
Schultz, Madelia’s sophomore quarterback, was poised to beat Nicollet for the first time since 2006 with two long strikes – a 75-yard touchdown pass to Jake Denn and an 80-yard score to Riley Benzel – to give Madelia (1-1, 1-1 Southern Confederacy Conference) an early 14-0 lead.
Both Denn and Benzel finished with career nights receiving: Benzel nabbed seven receptions for 142 yards while Denn caught four for 102 yards, each with a touchdown.
Nicollet (2-0, 2-0) came out slow with quarterback Dalton Elliott left scrambling for a break.
Elliott found said break in the second quarter when he orchestrated an 11-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a 4-yard touchdown run by Kenny Fischer. He later found Jay Hendrycks in the end zone for a 15-yard strike to pull Nicollet to 14-13 at halftime.
The tide turned in the Raiders’ favor when Schultz coughed up the ball in the red zone on the first drive in the third quarter.
“Dang Nicollet, they just kept coming hard, coming hard and we tried to match that intensity and that desire and we did,” said Madelia coach Terry Arduser. “We’re getting closer and closer to Nicollet and obviously we are.”
In the Blackhawks’ next possession from their own 8-yard line, Hendrycks picked Schultz off and returned it 10 yards for a touchdown for the Raiders’ first lead of the night 21-14.
“It was tremendously huge,” said Nicollet senior Matt Christenson. “All week, [we were] working on practicing dropping into zones. [Hendrycks did] his job, makes the play, gets the touchdown.”
Overall, Schultz went 13-of-21 passing for 261 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
On the other side of the field, Elliott had a less-than-stellar night passing, going 8-for-21 for 152 yards and one touchdown while relying mostly on his feet to make plays. Elliott rushed for 144 yards on 29 carries, tucking the ball and running with it for a majority of those carries as called quarterback keepers.
“They got just enough mileage out of that running the quarterback with [Christenson] leading, just enough mileage to win the ballgame for them,” Arduser said.
Even though 29 carries may appear to be an alarmingly high number for a quarterback, Murphy said there’s no more concern about that than there is for anybody else on his 23-player team.
“Dalton’s a battler and hopefully we don’t always have to do that, but there’s times where you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” Murphy said. “If we play them again, we’ll try to figure some things out so we maybe don’t have to do that.”
As for Schultz, he still has two more chances to knock off Nicollet before he hangs up his cleats.
“It’s a cat-and-mouse game,” Arduser said. “We did some good things offensively, but then again they did some nice things defensively to stop us.
“Again, they caught us a yard short.”
Nicollet 0 13 8 0 – 21
Madelia 6 8 0 6 – 20
Mad. – Schultz to J. Denn 75-yard TD pass (2-pt. conv. no good), 3:43 remaining
Mad. – Schultz to Benzel 80-yard TD pass (2-pt. conv. good), 11:42 remaining
Nic. – K. Fischer 4-yard TD run (M. Fischer PAT good), 6:24 remaining
Nic. – Elliott to Hendrycks 15-yard TD pass (M. Fischer PAT no good), 1:07 remaining
Nic. – Hendrycks 10-yard INT return for TD (2-pt. conv. good), 7:05 remaining
Mad. – Bergeman 4-yard TD run (2-pt. conv. no good), 9:46 remaining