Trojans fall to Mahtomedi in semifinals

Chuck Kajer, Managing Editor

Things started out great for the New Prague Trojan football team Saturday in their semifinal game against Mahtomedi.

Before the Metrodome crowd had a chance to settle in their seats, the Trojans were on the scoreboard as junior Tony Kubes returned the opening kick 94 yards for a touchdown. Eric Olson hit the extra point and New Prague led 7-0 just 13 seconds into the game.

New Prague’s defense opened up with a bang as well, with Mahtomedi quarterback Matt Jeans being sacked by Daren Geyen on third down, forcing a Zephyr punt. Two plays later, Mike Romig carried for a 55-yard gain, deep in Mahtomedi territory. But the Trojans lost a yard on third-and-1 and the Trojans settled for a 29-yard Eric Olson field goal, giving them a 10-0 lead.

Missed field goal

The teams traded punts and Mahtomedi started a drive late in the first quarter. A 16-yard pass and a couple of runs put them inside the Trojan 30, but the Trojan defense stiffened and Mahtomedi’s All-Metro kicker missed a 52-yard field goal, giving the ball back to the Trojans.

Mahtomedi fumbled on their next possession, with Kevin Olson recovering. New Prague tried to convert on a fourth-and-one, but Geyen was stopped for no gain, and Mahtomedi took over. The Zephyrs struck quickly, with a three-play drive that ended with a 37-yard run for a touchdown. The point after was no good, and New Prague’s lead was cut to 10-6.

The Trojans moved downfield on their next possession. Ross Skluzacek hit Kubes for a 4-yard pass, and two play later, Romig carried for 17. The Trojans got a first down thanks to a Mahtomedi penalty, putting New Prague inside the 20, but two plays later, the Trojans fumbled and Mahtomedi recovered. The teams went into halftime with New Prague leading 10-6.

Zephyrs take the lead

Mahtomedi’s first drive was stopped by a Trojan sack by Kevin Olson. The Trojans, though, couldn't move the ball, with Mahtomedi getting a sack of their own. Mahtomedi then put together a 10-play drive, on which they converted three times on third down, scoring on a 4-yard run with 3:38 remaining in the third quarter. The point after was good and Mahtomedi led 13-10.

On their next possession, Skluzacek connected with a 30-yard pass to Kubes. But the Trojans drive stalled and they were forced to punt. Joe DeLuca’s punt was a beauty, going 39 yards before the Trojans downed it at the Mahtomedi 3-yard line.

The Zephyrs tried going up the middle on the next play, losing two yards, but quarterback Matt Jeans got them back with a 2-yard run. A third-down pass was incomplete and the Zephyrs had to punt from their own end zone.

Tie game

New Prague had good field position, and moved the ball inside the 20, but the drive again stalled and the Trojans tied the game at 13-13 on a 32-yard kick by Eric Olson.

Mahtomedi struck back quickly, with a pass from Jeans to Harrison Andrews connecting for 54 yards, to the Trojan 1. Jeans carried it in himself on the next play, putting his team back on top, this time to stay.

New Prague had three more possessions in the game, but couldn't get a first down. They lost a yard on a fourth-and one, threw incomplete on third and 9 and punted, and on fourth and 7 near midfield, a Mahtomedi defender made a great play to knock the ball away from Brian O’Neill. The Zephyrs ran out the clock and took home the win.

Coach’s reaction

New Prague coach Tony Buthe said his team was ready for the top-ranked Zephyrs.

We played a very good first half. But their size

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