The Alexandria football team found a way to keep Moorhead's Chase Morlock out of the end zone the first time these two teams met in the regular season.
The Cardinals weren't so fortunate on Saturday night. Morlock put up video-game like numbers on his way to leading the Spuds to a 48-14 win over Alexandria in the Section 8-5A semifinals.
The senior back has a combination of size and speed like few backs in the state. He showed off that combination all night on his way to 312 yards and four touchdowns on just 10 carries. He also added two catches for 31 yards.
"We had our chances, but he's an outstanding running back," Alexandria head coach Mike Empting said. "You don't get that way without being able to run through some tackles. He did that. They had a good game plan for him. He's a big kid with good speed, and they had a plan to get him on the edge against some of our smaller defenders. He made them miss and ran through some tackles. He's a special back, no doubt."
Alexandria actually took an early lead after a Moorhead fumble on a punt set the Cardinals up with great field position in the first quarter. They took advantage of that a few plays later as sophomore Jake Bear punched one in from one-yard out to help make it 7-0.
The Spuds responded with 41 unanswered points. Morlock scored four straight touchdowns during that stretch as he found the end zone from six, 68, 62 and 80 yards outs.
"The big plays are tough to recover from," Empting said. "Lately, we've been telling the kids that they have to have a short memory. They're going to get big plays offensively and defensively. We're going to get big plays offensively and defensively. You can't get too high or too low. You have to be able to control your emotions, but I think that just gets tough. He rips off one big play and then does it again three plays later, that's tough to bounce back from."
Alexandria scored its only other touchdown in the fourth quarter when junior Landon Anderson scored from one yard out. The Spuds responded once again as Ben Lien put the finishing touches on the game with a 61-yard touchdown run.
That brought an end to the season for Alexandria as the Cardinals finished with a 2-8 record overall. It wasn't how they hoped the season would go, but Empting learned a lot about these athletes through those struggles.
"A big lesson was about leadership, a whole team persevering and staying dedicated to something," Empting said. "I have to hand it to our seniors. They were outstanding. They never let the team quit, and they didn't quit on each other. Those are big lessons to be able to take home in the end...The way they stuck together, saw the season through, I think it revealed a lot about their character."