Visiting Spring Grove scored their first three times with the ball, never trailed, and led 20-6 at halftime, before holding on late to hold off Houston, 20-18, in a game that ultimately came down to extra points. Jaxon Strinmoen ran in the only successful conversion and came up big on two of the Hurricanes’ three failed conversions with an assisted tackle and an interception. And then, with the ‘Canes trying to tie the game with a conversion with 2:19 to play, a tackle by Zach Brumm and Josh Newgaard a half-yard from the goal line preserved the two-point Lion lead.
Houston, which came in with twice as many rushing yards as passing yards through the first seven games, competed mostly with the pass in this regular-season finale. While all three Hurricane touchdowns came on the ground, their eight longest plays all came through the air. Houston rushed for only 72 yards, while Morgan Rohweder completed 14 of 20 passes for 181 yards with two INTs. He had two short TD runs. Lee Klunder (5-95), Axel Vix (3-81), and Zach Olson (6-56) were his targets. Meanwhile, Lion QB Bryce Berns completed 13 of 20 passes for 184 yards two touchdowns and two INTs. Strinmoen (4-88 receiving) caught a deep 39-yard TD toss on the third play of the game. Houston, on its first possession, drove 87 yards (14 plays) with Rohweder sneaking in from the one to tie at 6-6.
The Lions then drove 80 yards (15 plays) with Berns running the last 11 and Strinmoen plunging in for the two-point conversion (SG 14-6). After forcing a punt, SG went 34 yards with a 10-yard TD pass to Ben Udstuen for a 20-6 lead heading into halftime. In the second half, two of three viable Lion possessions ended with interceptions (Arik Melbo, Ethan Frauenkron), one stopping a 10-play, 66-yard drive to the Houston 14. The ‘Canes added TD drives of 60 yards (5 plays) and 65 yards (7 plays). Rohweder had a second QB sneak TD from the 2 yard-line, and later Aden Kulas (17-79 rushing) scored on a 10-yard run with 2:19 to play (SG 20, Hou 18). Grove stopped the 2-point run just short of the goal line, covered the onside kick, and with one first down, ran out the clock. Houston came in plus-7 in turnovers and SG minus-6, but the Lions won the turnover battle 3 to 2 with two interceptions (Brumm, Caden Gerard) and a fumble recovery (Brandon Jahnke).
After only two interceptions through the first seven and half games (162 passes), SG was picked off twice in the second half. But for the first time all season, the Lions did not lose a fumble. The Lions gained 297 yards (113 rush, 184 pass), Houston 253 (72 rush, 181 pass). SG came close to its 21-point scoring average while limiting the ‘Canes to about half of their 37-point average. SG (5-2, 6-2) defeated Houston (3-4, 4-4) for the 19th straight time. The Lions are the 3-seed, will host 6-seed Mabel-Canton (4-4) to start the play-offs. Houston is the 4-seed, will host 5-seed Southland (4-4).