Victorious in four of the past five Prep Bowls, Caledonia is accustomed to success inside the Metrodome.
But Thursday’s 26-24 Class 2A semifinal victory against BOLD was something new. The team traded leads in the second half as Caledonia’s vaunted defense gave up its most points in four years.
“Against Chatfield this season we won 6-0 so that was close, but we didn’t exchange scores like this,” said Levi Schmitz, Caledonia’s savior against BOLD.
While not dominant, No. 1 Caledonia (12-0) advanced thanks to timely plays from its defense and a tremendous day from Schmitz.
Schmitz caught a 46-yard first-quarter touchdown pass, then broke a 7-7 halftime stalemate by blocking a BOLD punt and recovering the ball in the end zone for a 13-7 lead.
No. 4 BOLD (11-1) responded on its ensuing drive. Quarterback Tyler Rock broke off a 60-yard touchdown run to re-take a 14-13 lead.
Schmitz keyed Caledonia’s go-ahead drive, catching a 31-yard pass at the BOLD 1-yard line. A Ryan Pitts touchdown run gave Caledonia a 20-14 third-quarter lead.
BOLD would not relent. A 41-yard field goal by Nick Kubesh cut Caledonia’s lead to 20-17.
“It was different because we were No. 4 and they were No. 1,” BOLD coach Steve Solem said. “We are used to being the higher [ranked team]. I think it helped us relax.”
Schmitz applied pressure with a 55-yard punt to BOLD’s 1-yard line. The tough field position got worse thanks to a Jacob Swindell interception at the BOLD 12-yard line.
“It was a great punt and it gave us a great situation,” Swindell said.
A short Alex Varney touchdown run gave Caledonia a 26-17 lead that wobbled but did not fall down. A second Rock touchdown run brought BOLD within 26-24 and represented the most points given up by Caledonia since 2008, a string of 63 games.