St. Michael-Albertville earned payback and a ticket to the Class 5A Section 6 semifinals with a 34-23 home victory over Buffalo on Tuesday.
The third-seeded Knights and sixth-seeded Bison faced off as Mississippi 8 Conference foes nearly a month ago. Buffalo won 15-13 that game in a gripping matchup. But the Knights put together a victory when it mattered — in the postseason.
Short-field turnovers and a kickoff return complemented the offensive output.
“It was a full team effort for putting 34 on the board,” Knights coach Jared Essler said.
Jason Senger guided the Bison downfield 80 yards for the game’s first scoring play. On a busted play, Senger slipped outside the pocket, scrambled and dived in from 10 yards out to put the Bison up 7-0.
That must have lit a fire under Dallas Freeman, the Knights’ electric playmaker. He returned the ensuing kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown to tie the score. Freeman also came up with two interceptions in the second half.
“Freeman’s a great player,” Essler said. “And the best part about it is he’s only a junior.”
Chris Kartes added a 13-yard touchdown run for St. Michael-Albertville soon after. Buffalo answered with a 23-yard field goal to make it 14-10 at the half.
The Knights extended their lead behind Brendon Poland’s 3-yard touchdown run. Defensive lineman Austin Brouillette came up with a big interception and nearly returned it for a score before sustaining a serious lower-body injury at the end of the play. Knights quarterback Cole Krutzig finished his teammate’s effort with a
1-yard touchdown run to put the Knights up 28-10.
The Bison would not go quietly.
Senger found Austin Youngs for 61- and 21-yard touchdown strikes to cut the lead to 28-23 into the fourth quarter. Senger passed for 265 yards and Youngs notched 170 yards receiving on the night, but the Knights held on. Bennie Wilson’s 1-yard touchdown run proved to be the final score.
The Knights will play second-seeded Monticello on the road at 1 p.m. Saturday in the section semifinals.