Trojans to host Faribault in 1AAAA semifinals

New Prague advanced to the semifinals of the Section 1AAAA football tournament with a 31-8 win over Winona Tuesday. The Trojans will host Faribault at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Falcons defeated Red Wing 40-8.

The other semifinal game will have Northfield hosting Albert Lea. Northfield is the top seed and had a first-round bye, while the Tigers defeated its archrival Austin for the second time in a week, by a 28-12 score.

Saturday's winners will square off at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2, for the Section 1AAAA championship. The game will be played at the high seed.

Last week, in the regular season finale, the Trojans lost to Prior Lake by a 31-8 score.

Lakers 31, Trojans 8

New Prague stopped Prior Lake on its first possession and forced a punt, but that was the highlight of the Trojans' first half.

New Prague fumbled the punt, and Prior Lake recovered. On the next play, the Lakers scored on a 44-yard touchdown pass, and the rout was on.

On the next series, Trojan quarterback Tim Stepka was picked off, and the Lakers ran it back 44 yards for a 14-0 lead. Prior Lake would later kick a 25-yard field goal and score on a 20-yard pass to lead 24-0 at the end of the first quarter.

The Trojans had trouble sustaining drives. Stepka was sacked several times, and New Prague couldn't get its aerial attack going. The team was also stopped twice inside the Laker 10-yard line in the first half.

Prior Lake would score once more in the first half on a 2-yard run and led 31-0 at halftime.

The Trojans' defense played much better in the second half, holding the Lakers scoreless. However, the Trojans couldn't move the ball. They got their only score late in the game, when Chase Buthe carried it in from 4 yards out. Sam Dittberner threw to Jon Schoenecker for the two-point conversion, making the final 31-8.

Statistically, the game looked much closer, as the Lakers outgained the Trojans, 256-231. New Prague had 205 yards rushing, but only 26 passing. Prior Lake had 123 rushing and 133 passing.

The Trojans were led by senior Nick Zweber who carried 13 times for 136 yards. Eric Meger had 15 carries for 55 yards, Tyler Maddaus had three carries for 12 yards, Nate Novak had two carries for 11 yards, Chase Buthe and Phil Skluzacek each carried once for 6 yards, Dittberner had one carry for 2 yards and Jack Dietz had two carries for 1 yard. Stepka had seven carries for a minus 24 yards, mostly due to sacks.

Stepka was four-of-15 passing for 26 yards and was intercepted twice. Brad Weiers caught two passes for 26 yards, and Marty DeValk and Meger each had one catch for no gain.

Andy Zweber led the Trojans defensively with eight tackles. Mike Jirik had six, and Josh Lindquist had five. Lindquist had one sack, and he and Jirik shared another.

Trojans 31, Winhawks 8

The Trojans appeared to follow a familiar theme in the early going, as they got a big gain, but then fumbled the ball away. That led to a Winona touchdown just three minutes into the game, and the Winhawks led 8-0.

New Prague tied the game at 8-8 when Meger scored from four yards out, and Tim Stepka threw to Brad Weiers for the two-point conversion.

Nick Zweber scored in the first minute of the second quarter on a 15-yard run. Kyle Buro's extra point made it 15-8 Trojans.

Nick Zweber would strike again with a 3-yard run with 7:00 remaining in the half. The point-after made it 22-8.

There was no scoring in the third quarter. However, the Trojans scored on the first play of the fourth quarter on a 63-yard run by Nick Zweber - his third score of the game - and the point-after made it 29-8.

Winona mishandled the ensuing kick and started the next series deep in its own territory. They were forced to punt, but a bad snap got away from the kicker and went out of the end zone for a safety, giving New Prague two points.

The Trojans' ground game kept pounding away at the overmatched Winona defense. New Prague had 320 yards rushing on the night.

Aside from the early fumble, the Trojans cut down on the mistakes that had plagued them throughout the second half of the season. After falling behind 8-0, coach Tony Buthe said the team wasn't going to panic.

We know nothing is going to be easy

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