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Mountain Lake Area rallies to defeat Hancock and win first Nine-Man title

By JIM PAULSEN, Star Tribune, 11/30/19, 12:30PM CST


Trailing uncustomarily in the first half, the Wolverines, behind quarterback Abraham Stoesz, scored three unanswered touchdowns in a 22-14 victory.

Mountain Lake Area quarterback Abraham Stoesz (12) runs with the ball for what proved to be the game-winning touchdown in the third quarter against Hancock. Photo: David Berding • Special to the Star Tribune

This was new and rather unexpected. Sure, Mountain Lake Area head coach Tim Kirk had talked about it during the season, but the Wolverines had not actually trailed in a game all season.

Now here it was, the state championship game, their point of focus all season, and they were down 14-0 midway through the second quarter.

“We talked all year about being uncomfortable, but we hadn’t been uncomfortable all year,” Kirk said. “This was the first time. And by two touchdowns.”

Uncharted territory, perhaps, but Mountain Lake Area navigated it smoothly, tying the game just before halftime and going on to defeat Hancock 22-14 to win its first Nine-Man state championship.

Wolverines quarterback Abraham Stoesz threw two interceptions in the first half, including one that was returned by Hancock’s Matt Thompson 32 yards for a touchdown. But Stoesz bounced back to rush for 140 yards and a touchdown and passed for 92 and another score.

“This team responds better than any team I’ve had,” Kirk said. “They just blow it off their shoulders and let’s move on.”

First report

Mountain Lake Area turned the ball over on its first three possessions and fell behind 14-0, its biggest deficit of the season. But the No. 1-ranked Wolverines regrouped Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium and rallied for a 22-14 victory over Hancock for its first Nine-Man state championship.

Quarterback Abraham Stoesz rushed for 140 yards and a touchdown, and passed for 92 yards and another score. Mace Herrig added 97 yards rushing and another score for Mountain Lake Area (14-0).

Tyler Timmerman led Hancock (13-1) with 89 yards rushing.

Check back later for more on the game.

Mountain Lake Area quarterback Abraham Stoesz (12) avoids a tackle by Hancock's Adam Shaw (44) in the second quarter. Photo: David Berding • Special to the Star Tribune

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