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Alexandria falls in overtime in Brainerd

After Myles Sansted's third field goal of the night came on Alexandria's first possession in overtime, the Warriors put the game away with a 5-yard touchdown run on their second play of the extra session.

CarterSteffensmeier.jpg
Alexandria's Carter Steffensmeier breaks a tackle as he runs with the ball against Brainerd Friday, October 1, 2021, at Brainerd High School. (Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch)

When Jed Klang heard the play call on second and five in the overtime frame his first and only thought was a touchdown.

After the Alexandria Cardinals converted a 24-yard field goal from Myles Sansted on their first overtime possession, the Warriors needed to answer and they did with a 5-yard Klang touchdown on a reverse play to give Brainerd a 27-24 overtime victory Friday, Oct. 1 at Adamson Field in Brainerd.

Nathanial Staehling opened the drive with a 5-yard burst up the middle. The call on second down went to Klang.

“I’m like, just get in the end zone,” Klang said. “I’m trying to win this. I want to go home with the W. I didn’t want another L. Got the ball. Turned upfield. Lowered my shoulders and I just had it in my mind to get in the back of the end zone and it happened.”

The senior receiver scored a 20-yard touchdown earlier in the game on the same play.

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“The play came with the new playbook under coach Freed, but we didn’t really use it a whole lot,” Klang said. “Now, it’s kind of a big part of our game and it’s been working for us. We’ve had some break-out runs. Not only me, but the other position guys are running hard. It’s a well-designed play with good lead blocking. It’s one of our go tos.”

Brainerd’s defense opened the overtime by holding Alexandria to the 6 yard line on the Cardinals’ first three plays. The call then went to Sansted to kick the 24-yard field goal. Sansted was 3-for-3 on field goals Friday.

The ball then went to the Warriors on their 10 with four plays to either tie or win the game.

“It’s been something we’ve been running all year and our offense is predicated on if-then,” Warriors head football coach Jason Freed said. “If they’re doing this to us then we are then going to do that back. The way they were overplaying things it just opened up things for us to come back. It forces the defense to have to honor things on both sides.”

Brainerd opened the second half with a nine-play, 67-yard drive that was all on the ground. Staehling, who saw limited offensive time in the first half, carried the ball six times for 50 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown run to hand Brainerd a 14-6 lead.

“No. 1 that was a confidence booster for our kids,” Freed said. “We’ve been struggling throughout the year to have a good sustained drive. I’m not sure what our longest drive of the year has been, but I don’t think it’s been over five minutes. So to come out like that, more than anything I think it gave our kids a feeling of what that feels like. To come out and drive and methodically move the ball.

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“Offensive line hats off. Coach (Curtis) Brisk and coach (Wade) Haapajoki did a great job getting them ready this week and we finally got some things going and I think our kids realized how much easier it is to run things when you have a running game.”

The Cardinals used a different approach to tie the score 14-14 as Jaxon Schoenrock hauled in a 52-yard pass from Carter Steffensmeier with no time left in the third quarter. Schoenrock then found Kelly Johnson for the 2-point conversion and the tie game.

On the next possession, Brainerd rumbled down to the Alexandria 3 thanks to a Staehling 53-yard run. On fourth and goal, Brainerd’s attempted pass was knocked down and the score remained 14-14.

Brainerd forced a three and out and took over at the Alexandria 31 with 7:34 remaining in the game. Four plays later, Klang received the reverse handoff and broke through the middle of the Cardinals’ defense for a 20-yard touchdown run with 5:54 remaining.

Alexandria answered with a 10-play, 67-yard drive highlighted by a Warrior pass interference call and a 16-yard reception by Teagan Pfeffer on fourth and 10. The drive was capped off by a 12-yard touchdown reception by Schoenrock.

It was one big play that helped the Warriors take a 7-6 halftime lead. On fourth and 6 on the Alexandria 36, the Cardinals’ attempted punt went amiss as the snap sailed over the punter who then recovered it at the 5. Two plays later Damen Bentho rushed in with 37.2 seconds remaining in the half. To that point, Brainerd struggled to sustain drives as was the hope leading into the North Central Red Subdistrict game. Brainerd rushed for 54 yards on 14 plays and was just 1-of-5 passing for 9 yards.

Alexandria rushed for 67 yards until the poor snap on the punt had them at just 34 yards of rushing offense. The Cardinals were 7-of-13 passing for 55 yards.

The Cardinals’ six first-half points came on consecutive drives as Stansted connected on field goals of 34 and 36 yards.

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After just one carry for 10 yards in the first half, Staehling finished with 144 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown. Bentho added 43 yards on 14 carries.

“He’s playing both ways so we gave him a break, but I’m proud of him,” Freed said. “He came back and showed some grit. It was fun to see him run hard tonight.”

Alexandria’s Steffensmeier rushed for 75 yards and was 17-of-31 passing for 194 yards and the two scores. He did have one interception hauled in by Camden Langerman.

Ethan DeRosier recovered a muffed punt late in the fourth quarter, but Brainerd couldn’t capitalize.

“You have to sometimes learn how to win and we have some guys who are still pretty green when it comes to varsity football,” Freed said. “We only played four games last year and so for a lot of these seniors, we have finally played a full season if you count last year and this year. I think we’re starting to figure out situations and I told our guys, big players have to make big plays. Hats off to the seniors and our seniors made some big plays tonight.”

Alexandria 0 6 8 7 3 -- 24

Brainerd 0 7 7 7 6 -- 27

Second quarter

Alex-Myles Sansted 34 field goal 9:03

Alex-Sansted 36 field goal 4:38

Brd-Damen Bentho 5 run (Ryan Westerberg kick) 37.2

Third quarter

Brd-Nathaniel Staehling 5 run (Westerberg kick) 8:22

Alex-Jaxon Schoenrock 52 pass from Carter Steffensmeier (Kelly Johnson pass from Schoenrock) 0:00

Fourth quarter

Brd-Jed Klang 20 run (Westerberg kick) 5:54

Alex-Schoenrock 12 pass from Steffensmeier (Sansted kick) 3:44

Overtime

Alex-Sanstad 24 field goal

Brd-Jed Klang 5 run

Team statistics

Rushes-yards: Brd 44-225, Alex 34-75

Pass comp-att-int-yds: Brd 4-12-0-40, Alex 17-31-1-194

Total offense: Brd 56-265, Alex 65-269

Individual leaders

Rushing: Brd-Nathaniel Staehling 18-144, Damen Bentho 14-43, Marcello Getty 5-28, Jed Klang 3-27, Eli Hoelz 3-(-2), Team 1-(-15); Alex-Walker Hennen 17-30, Carter Steffensmeier 14-75

Passing: Brd-Getty 4-11-40, Staehling 0-1-0; Alex-Steffensmeier 17-31-194

Receiving: Brd-Hoelz 2-18, Bentho 1-14, Caleb Lange 1-8; Alex-Zach Gundberg 4-24, Kelly Johnson 5-41, Jaxon Schoenrock 6-93, hennen 1-0, Teagan Pfeffer 1-16

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 218-855-5856 or jeremy.millsop@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.

Warriors 27, Alexandria 24

Key: Jed Klang pounded in two touchdowns, including the winning one in overtime.

District: Brd 1-2, Alex 1-1.

Overall: Brd 2-3, Alex, Alex 1-3.

Next: Brainerd hosts Rogers 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8; Alexandria hosts Sartell 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8.

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
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