Spring Grove needed two 97-yard possessions and three plays covering more than 80 yards to finally overtake Mabel-Canton, 28-24, on snow-frosted Blayne Onsgard Memorial Field on Nov. 12. Trailing the Cougars (2-4) by two scores in the fourth quarter, the Lions (4-2) rallied with two home run tosses from Isaac Griffin – first for 86 yards to Caden Grinde and then for 82 yards to Reid Bjerke. The senior signal-caller passed for 208 yards, rushed for 119 and had a hand in all 28 Spring Grove points, including TD runs of 10 yards and 86 yards plus kicking four extra points.
Meanwhile, already two-time All-District Gavin Johnson scored 22 of the 24 Cougar points with three touchdowns (17, 2, 1 yard) and a pair of extra-point runs while rushing for 205 yards, his third 200-yard-plus performance in six games. Cayden Tollefsrud added the other 2-point conversion run.
Griffin’s 82-yard pass to Bjerke gave the Lions their first lead of the night with only 5:43 to play. But Griffin’s first carry had saved Spring Grove from falling behind by two scores early in the game.
The Cougars (2-4) had taken the opening kickoff and launched an 86-yard, 12 play touchdown march with Johnson scoring on a 17-yard play. Leading 8-0, M-C then fell on an onside kickoff and drove 37 yards before coming up one yard short while running out of downs at the Lion 3 yard-line.
Almost falling behind by two touchdowns before running an offensive play, the Lions covered 97 yards in only three plays as Griffin broke up the middle for 86 yards.
With the Cougars going for two-point conversions and Griffin booting one-pointers, Mabel-Canton would lead even when the touchdown count was even. It was 8-7 early, then 16-7 at halftime, 16-14 in the third period and 24-14 in the fourth quarter.
Spring Grove had to overcome adverse field position for both of their final two game-saving scores. After a penalty and a fumble, the Lions faced a third-down-and 15 at their own 14 yard-line when Griffin found Grinde deep for 86 yards. The Cougars still led 24-21. And Cayden Tollefsrud gave the Cougars good field position by running the kickoff back 35 yards to the Lion 42.
The Grove defense held, but a 46-yard punt by Robert Michels pinned the Lions back on their 3 yard-line. However, the boys in black would go 97 yards for their final TD as they had for their first score. After two incomplete passes, Griffin scrambled 15 yards for a critical first down. Two plays later, Bjerke got behind the secondary for his only reception – the 82-yarder that finally put the Lions ahead, 28-24.
The Cougars had two more possessions but ran out of downs near midfield and then suffered their only turnover of the game, an interception by Lion freshman Elijah Solum.
The attacks were as expected. M-C efficiently pounded away with a punishing ground game with only one offensive penalty and no rushing turnovers while Johnson took 41 handoffs. The Cougars averaged four yards per carry, but only six plays covered double-digit yardage – the longest 21 yards. Four of the six M-C pass attempts came after falling behind in the fourth quarter. All 230 yards of offense came on the ground.
There was a precipitous drop-off for the Cougar offense in the second half. After gaining 177 yards before halftime, M-C managed only 53 yards after the break. The Cougars’ lone second-half TD came after recovering a fumble at the SG 23.
Lion defensive coordinator Aric Elton said there was only a minor defensive adjustment made at halftime. But it paid major dividends; All four Mabel-Canton punts occurred during the second half as SG was outscoring the Cougars, 21-8.
Employing their customary wide-receiver, big play offense, the Lions had a balanced attack with 191 rushing yards and 208 passing. But their huge 399-230 total yardage advantage was hampered with four turnovers. It was TD or turnover for the Lions, whose only punt came with 2:22 to play.
Mabel-Canton was burned by two long TD passes but also came up with two interceptions in the end zone by Jaymeson Tollefsrud and Alex Arneson. Robert Michels recovered two Lion fumbles.
Each team had one short-yardage scoring drive. A short punt had given the Grove guys only 22 yards to travel for their second TD (SG 14-16). A lost Lion fumble led to the Cougars going only 23 yards for their last TD (MC 24-14). Otherwise, SG scoring drives covered 97, 81 and 97 yards. M-C sustained scoring marches of 86 and 63 yards.
The Spring Grove defense received 21 tackles by Carson Gavin and 15 stops each from Solum and Griffin. Grinde had 13 tackles.
It was the Lions’ 16th straight win in the series the Cougars still lead 36 to 25. But it was the second consecutive season in which Spring Grove would come from behind in the fourth quarter to extend the winning streak. The victory assured Spring Grove a winning record for an 11th straight season.
There was no precipitation during the game, but the turf was mostly white at kickoff after a snow squall passed through shortly before the national anthem.
SG 28, MC 24
SG—7—0—7—14 = 28
MC—8—8—0—8 = 24
SG 0, MC 8
17 run Gavin Johnson (Johnson run) 6:51
Drive: 86 yards, 12 plays
Keys: 13, 21 runs
SG 7, MC 8
86 run Isaac Griffin (Griffin kick) 1:03
Drive: 97 yards, 2 plays
SG 7, MC 16
2 run Johnson (Johnson run) 7:31
Drive: 63 yards, 12 plays
Keys: 10, 13 runs
SG 14, MC 16
10 run Griffin (Griffin kick) 4:59
Drive: 22 yards, 2 plays
Keys: short 14 MC punt
SG 14, MC 24
1 run Johnson (Cayden Tollefsrud run) 11:15
Drive: 23 yards, 6 plays
Keys: SG fumble
SG 21, MC 24
86 pass Caden Grinde from Griffin (Griffin kick) 9:15
Drive: 81 yards, 4 plays
Keys: SG fumble
SG 28, MC 24
82 pass Reid Bjerke (Griffin kick) 5:43
Drive: 97 yards, 5 plays
Keys: 15 run third down
RUSHING 27-191: Isaac Griffin 12-119, 2TD; Hunter Holland 10-39; Mitchell Reynolds 2-37; Team 3-(-4)
PASSING: Isaac Griffin 9-18-2, 208 yds, 2TD
RECEIVING: 9-208: Caden Grinde 7-118, TD; Reid Bjerke 1-82, TD; Tysen Grinde 1-8
SCORING 28: Isaac Griffin 16, Reid Bjerke 6, Caden Grinde 6
KICKOFF RETURNS: Hunter Holland 1-12; Elijah Solum 1-6
PUNT RETURNS: none
PUNTING: Caden Grinde 1-26
PAT KICKS: Isaac Griffin 4 for 4
INTERCEPTIONS: Elijah Solum 1 – no return
PASS BREAKUPS: Isaac Griffin 1
FUMBLE RECOVERIES: none
FUMBLES FORCED: none
SACKS: Elijah Solum 1
TACKLES for LOSS (incl. sacks): Carson Gavin 2.0; Ty Cleven 1.0; Elijah Solum 1.0; Isaac Griffin 0.5; Caden Grinde 0.5; Tysen Grinde 0.5; Hunter Holland 0.5
TACKLES (solo + assists): Carson Gavin 21 (2+19); Elijah Solum 15 (5+10); Isaac Griffin 15 (3+12); Caden Grinde 13 (2+11); Ethan Crouch 7 (3+4); Tysen Grinde 7 (2+5); Reid Bjerke 6 (2+4); Ty Cleven 5 (1+4) ; Hunter Holland 3 (0+3); Caleb Griffin 2 (0+2); Cameron Kraus 1 (0+1)
RUSHING 58-230: Gavin Johnson 41-205, 3TD +2PAT; Cayden Tollefsrud 11-34 +PAT; Dawson Kleiboer 1-2; Jordan Larson 3-(-8); Team 2-(-3)
PASSING: Jordan Larson 0-6-1
SCORING 24: Gavin Johnson 22; Cayden Tollefsrud 2
KICKOFF RETURNS: Cayden Tollefsrud 2-23, Owen Underbakke 1-7
PUNT RETURNS: none
PUNTING: Robert Michels 4-98 (24.5 avg.)
INTERCEPTIONS: Jaymeson Tollefsrud 1-touchback, Alex Arneson 1-touchback
PASS BREAKUPS: Cayden Tollefsrud 1
FUMBLE RECOVERIES: Robert Michels 2
FUMBLES FORCED: James Arneson 0.5; Gavin Johnson 0.5
TACKLES for LOSS (incl. sacks): James Arneson 1
TACKLES (solo + assists): Cayden Tollefsrud 7 (6+1); Alex Arneson 6 (3+3); James Arneson 5 (4+1); Randy Gerard 4 (2+2); Jaymeson Tollefsrud 4 (2+2); Gavin Johnson 3 (2+1); Jordan Larson 2 (2+0); Robert Michels 2 (0+2); Owen Underbakke 1 (1+0)