Top-ranked Chatfield (Section 1AA champ, 11-0) scored on its first two second half drives, to blow open a 14-0 halftime lead in downing Blue Earth Area (Section 2AA Champ, 9-2) in the state quarters. The first half was denoted by two Gopher TDs, three Gopher turnovers, and two Chatfield defensive stands. It took the Gophers just six plays to score, as Sam Backer capped their opening series by hitting Drew O’Connor for a 26-yard TD pass. In the second quarter, after a solid punt return and on a short field, Backer hit 6’3” senior WR Cole Johnson for a 23-yard TD pass. Johnson made an Odell Beckham-like one-hand grabbing reception, climbing the ladder to dunking height for the sensational catch. Those were the only two scores of the first half. Chatfield was driving on two other occasions only to turn the ball over. In the first quarter, Kail Schott ripped off a 35-yard run into Buc territory, but fumbled. Early in the second quarter, a Backer red zone run also ended in a fumble. Blue Earth twice threatened scores too. A 15-play first quarter excursion had a second and goal at the three only for the Chatfield defense to thrice deny BEA. A 10-play late second quarter excursion also had second and goal at the three only for the Chatfield middle defense to thrice stop 6’5” 240 Buc QB Ashton Lloyd on interior runs. After halftime, Backer connected with O’Connor for a 40-yard TD pass (22-0). One series later, Schott ripped off a 42-yard run and Backer (2-yard TD) capped the series (29-0). Backer ripped off a 50-yard TD run early in the fourth, one that put him over 200 yards for the game, and put him past Owatonna’s Jason Williamson for second most career rushing yards in Minnesota Prep history. Blue Earth, which came in averaging almost 44 PPG, only scored late in the fourth on Chatfield’s reserves. The Gophers posted a 35-6 win. It was their seventh game of holding a foe to one TD or less. The Gopher defense is giving up just 9 PPG. Backer (4 of 7, 101 yards, 3 TDs passing, 20-209, 2 TDs rushing) accounted for all five Chatfield TDs. He unofficially has 119 career total TDs. It was his most prolific
passing game of the season. O’Connor (2-68 receiving) caught two for TDs. Johnson (2-33, TD receiving) also caught two passes. Schott (7-103 rushing) gave Chatfield two 100-yard rushers. Chase Johnston (4-68 yards) came in late and helped the Gophers run for 390 yards. Lineman Nathan Allen (5’11” 175), Ethan Cole (6’3” 220), Michael Greiner (5’10” 190), Isaac Stevens (6’2” 205), and Blake Thompson (6’1” 220) plus TE O’Connor (6’3” 190) did the dirty work well. The Buc’s DTs weighed 350 and 280. BEA was held to 43 yards rushing on 30 carries. They got most of their yards through the air behind Lloyd (24 of 37, 246 yards, INT passing) and Jack Norman (9-134 receiving). Chatfield lost the turnover battle 3-to-1. Backer (7,045 yards) is now one of only three players, with Williamson (7,009) and McLeod West’s Tyler Evans (7,503), to top 7,000 career rushing yards. With 94 career rushing TDs, he is purportedly in second place behind Lanesboro’s Niko Anderson, who had 100. And Backer played just five games as a sophomore. The #1 Gophers (12-0) will face #5 Eden Valley-Watkins (12-0) in the state semis.