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Spring Grove pushes Verndale aside to advance in 9-Man tournament

By Trevor Squire, SportsEngine, 11/10/17, 3:00PM CST


Alex Folz led the Lions past the Pirates with four TDs on the ground.

Alex Folz takes a carry in the second quarter of Spring Grove's 34-6 victory Friday night in the 9-Man state quarterfinals at Buffalo. Photo by Trevor Squire, SportsEngine

Two goal-line stands set the tone for Spring Gove in its 9-Man state quarterfinal against Verndale at Buffalo High School on Friday night.

The first kept the Lions from falling behind early after going three-and-out on their opening possession. 

The second catapulted Spring Grove to a decisive 34-6 victory as Alex Folz scurried his way to a 98-yard touchdown in the third quarter to put his team ahead by two possessions. The junior quarterback finished the game with 227 rushing yards and four rushing TDs.

After being held to just 28 yards of offense in the first quarter, Spring Grove (12-0, 7-0) looked lethargic while battling in 24 degree weather and blistery winds.

“When we stopped them on the goal line, the momentum just changed a whole lot,” Folz said. “We just started going there, our offense will never give up.”

The Lions, ranked the top team in the Associated Press 9-Man poll, scored twice in the second quarter to take the lead at halftime. 

While the wind was still mild, Folz found Noah Elton for a 69-yard pass reception that put Spring Grove in striking distance. Cullen Patterson capped the drive with a 9-yard TD run.

Sam Sanness blocked a punt that set up a two-play, 12-yard scoring drive where Folz ran in his first touchdown from six yards out.

“We stuck to the running game. With this weather, passing wasn’t very easy,” Lions coach Zach Hauser said. “Alex Folz is a tremendous athlete and whenever he gets the ball in his hands he’s a threat to score.” 

Verndale moved the ball effectively in its opening drive in the third quarter, but Spring Grove stuffed the Pirates on fourth down at the 2-yard line.

Hauser called a designed quarterback run up the middle to give his offense some breathing room. Folz had other plans. 

After being stuffed the middle on his first stab, Folz, weighing over 200 pounds, couldn’t be taken down at first contact and bounced the run outside. He zig-zagged downfield with his linemen ahead of him as the team patiently rolled through the No. 3 Pirates (11-1, 8-0) defense for his marathon of a touchdown.

Now the only undefeated team left standing in the 9-Man field, Spring Grove sets its sights on the plush turf at U.S. Bank Stadium where it’ll face a Stephen-Argyle team that upset previously unbeaten Cromwell-Wright.

“We’re going to expect a really good team on Thursday at U.S. Bank [Stadium], which will be nice indoors after this blizzard right now,” Hauser said.

Mack Jones barrels through a group of defenders during the Pirates' 9-Man quarterfinal Friday at Buffalo High School. Photo by Trevor Squire, SportsEngine

Mack Jones barrels through a group of defenders during the Pirates' 9-Man quarterfinal Friday at Buffalo High School. Photo by Trevor Squire, SportsEngine

First Report

Junior quarterback Alex Folz ran for 227 yards and four consecutive touchdowns -- including a 98-yard TD run -- leading Spring Grove to a 34-6 victory over Verndale Friday night in a 9-Man state tournament quarterfinal at Buffalo High School.

Ranked the top team in the final 9-Man Associated Press poll, the Lions (12-0) were held to 28 yards of total offense in the first quarter before scoring 33 unanswered points against No. 3 Verndale (11-1).

Pirates quarterback Mack Jones connected with Luke Weniger for a 28-yard touchdown catch for Verndale’s only points.

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