Cardinals can't keep up
After an overtime loss to Brainerd less than two weeks ago in which Moorhead wide receiver Brett Lawrence did not catch a pass with very few thrown his way, Spuds coach Kevin Feeney sent him a text saying he was still a target.
As a 6-foot-5 state-qualifying sprinter, Lawrence doesn’t have a choice whether he’s a target or not, no matter how much he likes blocking.
“I do really like blocking, but I like catching the ball,” Lawrence said. “I want the ball in my hands.”
Lawrence got all he could ask for Tuesday in the Minnesota Class 5A, Section 8 quarterfinals at Jim Gotta Stadium, hauling in 10 passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns to lead Moorhead over Alexandria 42-7.
“He was a good receiver,” Alexandria head coach Mike Empting said. “He did a good job and their quarterback did a good job of getting the ball to him, but we knew he was their guy going into it. We had a scheme in place to try and stop it and just didn’t execute it very well.”
Moorhead quarterback Tyler Eidsness was more than happy with the game plan to get Lawrence the ball. Eidsness had 19 passes, 11 of which went to Lawrence, who accounted for all but 22 of Eidsness’ 135 yards and two of his three passing touchdowns.
“I just try to give him a chance,” Eidsness said. “He’s a big target, he goes up and gets the ball and he makes me look good. For some reason, we just forgot about the big weapon that we have. We definitely have gotten it back.”
After forcing an Alexandria punt on the first drive of the game, Moorhead went 49 yards in 11 plays, capping the drive with a three-yard touchdown pass from Eidsness to Lawrence on fourth-and-goal from the 3. The Spuds (6-3) scored in six plays on their next possession after a Jade Lawrence 10-yard run.
Seven plays after an interception for Tyler Stich, Mike Duginski went 23 yards for a touchdown with two minutes, 12 seconds left in the half. Two minutes later, Eidsness found Brett Lawrence for a 17-yard touchdown pass to take a 28-0 lead into the half.
Empting felt things could have gone differently if not for a few miscues in the backfield on each of the first two possessions.
“I’ll be honest with you, I don’t think we played very well,” he said. “They did a lot of things well, too, but to me, they looked like the same team we played in week one. We gave up some short fields again. We made some miscues offensively early that cost us.”
Brett Lawrence beat the coverage specifically designed to stop him on that big fourth-and-goal play on Moorhead’s opening possession. That also set the tone as the Spuds never looked back from there.
“I thought our defense did some things pretty well,” Empting said. “But obviously we had some breakdowns. I think if we hold them on that fourth-and-goal...then our first six runnings plays were all miscues. I thought our offensive line really did a good job and protected our quarterback and run blocked well, but we struggled executing in our backfield.”
Alexandria’s only touchdown came in the fourth quarter when senior running back Mitch Peck punched one in from a yard out. The loss ended the season for the Cardinals at 2-7.
“It was a tough night,” Empting said. “It really was...our kids played really hard, but I think everybody that was there saw we made a lot of mistakes.”
Moorhead will play at top-seeded St. Cloud Apollo on Saturday at a time to be determined. The Spuds lost to St. Cloud Apollo 27-20 in week two.
“They handed it to us the last time we went out there,” Feeney said. “They earned the right to be the No. 1 seed. They kicked the snot out of us, and we have to be ready to compete.”
Chris Murphy of the Fargo Forum contributed to this article.
ALEXANDRIA 0 0 0 7– 7
MOORHEAD 14 14 14 0–42
M – B. Lawrence 3-yard pass from Eidsness (Wiedrich kick)
M – J. Lawrence 10-yard run (Wiedrich kick)
M – Duginski 23-yard run (Wiedrich kick)
M – B. Lawrence 17-yard pass from Eidsness (Wiedrich kick)
M – Richards 11-yard pass from Eidsness (Wiedrich kick)
M – Delbrune 26-yard run (Wiedrich kick)
A – Peck 1-yard run (Kuhn kick)
RUSHING: Alexandria – Peck 12-50, Vogeler 10-29. Moorhead – Eidsness 7-35, J. Lawrence 6-23, Duginski 4-25, Rage 3-22. Gotta 12-48, Bye 1-1, Delbrune 2-26, Klindt 4-25, Taylor 1-8, Nelson 1-0
PASSING: Alexandria – Vogeler 7-13-1 67 yards. Moorhead – Eidsness 14-19-0 135 yards.
RECEIVING: Moorhead – B. Lawrence 10-113, J. Lawrence 1-0, Duginski 1-11, Richards 1-11. Alexandria – Krivanek 4-33, Hvezda 2-22, Peck 1-12