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Mistakes haunt Cards against Sartell

Alexandria's Riley Hvezda went up high to intercept a ball in the end zone during the first quarter of a 27-19 loss to Sartell on Friday night. The interception kept the Cardinals within a touchdown early on.

The Alexandria football team was left feeling like it beat itself after falling to 0-2 on the young season in a 27-19 loss to Sartell on Friday night.

Three turnovers, including two on the first two possessions, ended up costing the Cardinals in the end. Seven penalties for 55 yards were equally as tough to overcome as Alexandria put up 363 yards of total offense but didn't play clean enough football to come away with a win.

"I'm going to tell them that we could be a really good football team," head coach Mike Empting said of his message to his guys after this one. "But we can't do those things to beat ourselves. We can't give games away. We can't give away field position. We can't give away possessions with fumbles or whatever. Those are hard to overcome for anybody."

Those mistakes, coupled with the fact that Sartell ran for 250 yards, made for a frustrating night for the Cardinals. Sabres' junior running back Darek Stachowski had a huge game with 231 yards and touchdown runs of 20 and 26 yards.

"We had a lot of missed tackles," Empting said. "If you look at it, we're defended at the line of scrimmage pretty well. There were a couple of times where he hit the edge pretty clean, but he ran through a lot of tackles."

The Cardinals withstood that performance from Stachowski and had their opportunities to tie the game in the fourth quarter. Alexandria put together an 85-yard drive that was capped off by a Mitch Peck touchdown run of one yard that made it 21-13.

That's how things stood when the Cardinals forced a punt with almost six and a half minutes left in the game. Senior Parker Bowden was back for Alexandria, but he mishandled the punt and Sartell recovered.

The Sabres made that hurt a few plays later when Stachowski got loose for a 26-yard touchdown run. Peck added his second touchdown of the game on a 58-yard screen pass with 1:29 left in the game, but the Sabres covered up the onside kick and ran out the clock by taking a knee the rest of the way.

"It's the mistakes that really killed us," Peck said. "We were killing ourselves the whole game. We just have to clean up all the mistakes and that's what will fix things."

Peck had 74 yards on 15 carries and 63 yards on three receptions. Senior quarterback John Vogeler ran for 105 yards on 18 carries and threw for an additional 184 yards on 15-of-31 passing. He connected with senior receiver David Krivanek on a 35-yard touchdown strike down the left sideline to make it a 7-7 game early.

Vogeler settled in after having an interception and a fumble on a handoff exchange on Alexandria's first two possessions. He also had a costly unsportsmanlike conduct penalty with his team down by two touchdowns in the third quarter. Vogeler broke free for a 33-yard run down to the Sartell 11-yard line on the play but celebrated a little too long after lowering his shoulder on the run and knocking a defender to the ground.

"That was a stupid, stupid move on my part," Vogeler said. "I apologize for that. I got too into the game. My emotions took over. That wasn't needed to be successful in this game."

The Cardinals showed how they can move the ball on the very next possession if they don't hurt themselves. They took over at the Sartell 15 and moved 85 yards on Alexandria's best drive of the night.

"The key for us is just execute," Vogeler said. "If we execute, if we do the little things, we'll win. It's plain and simple. We have the guys. We have the right coaches. We have the right athletes. We have enough athleticism to beat people one on one. It just comes down to little things. If we get those things right, the sky's the limit."


ALEXANDRIA 7 0 0 12 — 19

SARTELL 7 7 7 6 — 27

ALEXANDRIA — OFFENSE — PASSING — Vogeler — 15-31, 2 TD, INT, 184 yards; Receiving — Peck — 3-63, TD; Aaron Steidl — 1-7; Krivanek — 3-67; Parker Bowden — 8-47; Rushing — Vogeler — 18-105; Peck — 15-74, TD

ALEXANDRIA DEFENSE — Bowden — 3 tackles; Kris Setterstrom — 1 tackle; Joe Gorghuber — 9 tackles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 pass breakup; Travis Kruger — 6 tackles; Riley Hvezda — 3 tackles, 1 interception; Jerimiah Burnham — 4 tackles; Steidl — 6 tackles; Parker Revering — 8 tackles; Nick Partington — 7 tackles; Jordan Karger — 4 tackles; Chris Leary — 5 tackles; Grant Hockert — 3 tackles, blocked kick; Henry Wirtjes — 1 tackle

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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