Mistakes hamper Irish in overtime loss to BBE


Rough starts have been a theme on the gridiron for the Maple Lake Irish. That was true once again in their 20-19, overtime loss against the Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa Jaguars.
Originally scheduled for Friday, the game was rescheduled for Saturday afternoon at St. Cloud State University, due to concerns about the condition of the home field.
Even with dry turf to start the game, the Irish couldn’t get the traction they wanted.
“We moved the ball alright on our first possession, but a bad snap on a punt gave them a short field and their first score,” coach Tim Knudsen said of the snafu that put the Jaguars on the 23-yard line and ultimately helped them go up 7-0.
The Irish started their second possession near midfield, thanks to a 30-yard return by Dusty Strub, but were unable to capitalize on the good field position.
BBE also struggled offensively on their next possession, but their defense put them back on the field just seconds later with an interception of Tony Goelz. A failed field goal kept the score at 7-0.
In the second quarter, the BBE defense struck again, returning Goelz’s second interception to the five-yard line, which set up another score to increase the lead to 13-0.
“We threw back-to-back interceptions, which hurt because the defense had to go back out there on little rest,” Knudsen said. “But they did a good job and only allowed one touchdown.”
Fielding the kickoff on the nine-yard line, Strub took off and didn’t stop until he reached pay dirt 91 yards later. Charlie Stejskal’s extra-point attempt was blocked, leaving the score at 13-6.
“Strub breaking that 91-yard touchdown was awesome and it shifted the momentum back our way,” Knudsen said.
His defense tried to create more momentum, as Dominic Kaley forced a fumble and Devin Lowers recovered it. The offense set up a field goal on the 30-yard line, but Stejskal was unable to convert it.
In the third quarter, Nick Gapinski forced a fumble and Cal Redemske recovered it. Facing a long field, the Irish were unable to score. 
Both teams struggled offensively until the 6:21 mark of the fourth quarter when Redemske pushed the pile into the end zone and Stejskal tied the game.
BBE pulled out all the stops to try to take the lead and earned a first down on a fake punt before ultimately turning the ball over on downs on Maple Lake’s 22-yard line.
The Irish moved the ball through the air and on the ground to set up a 22-yard field goal attempt by Stejskal with two seconds remaining. His first attempt was wide left, but he was given another try, as BBE had called timeout.
Stejskal’s second attempt was also unsuccessful.
“The snap wasn’t perfect,” Knudsen said. “It was a floater and high so it threw him off. They had a 6’7” and 6’5” kid jumping up to block it. Someone got a hand on it.”
In overtime, Maple Lake got their hands on the ball first after losing the coin toss.
More information and stats appear in this week's Messenger.