Mistake-prone Huskies suffer startling loss to Trojans in Red Division finale
NEW PRAGUE 27, OWATONNA 0
NEW PRAGUE — There’s an old adage known as Murphy’s Law that states “anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”
At the risk of oversimplifying what was a thoroughly unpleasant evening for the Owatonna football team, the Huskies unwittingly gave palpable merit to this time-tested decree to a level that it becomes almost impossible to extract any sort of meaningful substance from the Big Southeast District Red Division loss, and that includes the characteristic lessons that can often be revealed in defeat.
Bottom line, it was simply too ugly.
The Huskies committed six turnovers, gift-wrapped the Trojans an early 7-0 lead following a botched snap at their own 1-yard line on fourth down, were flagged for a devastating holding penalty just when it looked like they were about to pull within seven points late in the second quarter and had a punt blocked early in the third. When a cascade of such events besieges any team, the entire performance becomes tainted, jarring and hollow.
Throw in the fact that New Prague fumbled five times and somehow finished with just one turnover, popped off a season-long 84-yard touchdown run and chewed up almost eight minutes of clock on a single possession that ended with a punt that rolled inside the 3-yard line, and the narrative becomes painfully evident: Bad luck mixed with poor execution equals lop-sided results.
“Honestly, the fact that they only scored 27 points was almost surprising based on how we played,” Owatonna coach Jeff Williams said moments after the game. “We just didn’t give ourselves a chance offensively and on special teams. There’s not much to say. We just have to get better offensively.”
Owatonna’s uncontrollable misfortune aside, the Trojans categorically out-played the Huskies in two of the game’s three phases, leaving whatever OHS attempted to accomplish on offense in the game’s final 12 minutes inconsequential to the outcome. By that point, New Prague had rung up a 24-point lead and was cruising to its fourth win in five outings.
By contrast, OHS had its three-game winning streak unceremoniously halted and is in danger of finishing without a plus-.500 record for the first time in more than a dozen years as they prepare for a Kasson-Mantorville team that is essentially a beefed-up version of the ground-and-pound Trojans.
Oh, and they’ll have exactly two practices to get themselves ready for the regular season finale.
“We don’t have any choice,” Williams said about playing on a short week after a bad loss. “Is it an advantage? A disadvantage? It doesn’t make any difference. We play Wednesday and we will have to figure something out.”
New Prague provided a unique challenge for the Huskies on both sides of the ball and clearly bothered Owatonna’s young quarterback, Jacob Ginskey, with its organized and balanced zone defense, quickly closing any open windows in the secondary and blanketing the Huskies’ wide-open spread.
Making just his fourth start at the varsity level and coming off a near-perfect performance against Rochester John Marshall in Week 6, Ginskey finished just 2-for-14 and was intercepted four times, the third of which came one play after the Huskies were called for a holding penalty that cost them 16 yards, and probably seven points.
The pivotal infraction came after Dylan Maas was tackled at the 2-yard line after pin-balling through the New Prague defense for a 5-yard gain with roughly 60 seconds left in the second quarter. But, instead of setting up shop a mere six feet from paydirt and potentially drawing within 14-7, Owatonna was pushed all the way back to just inside the red zone and ultimately entered the break down two touchdowns.
“It would have been good to get points on the board,” Williams said. “You know, it would have been a seven-point game at halftime and we are in a fighting chance. But, obviously…we just shot ourselves in the foot all night.”
Starting with its one-play, 1-yard drive that gave them the lead with 8 minutes, 14 seconds left in the opening stanza, the Trojans enjoyed extraordinarily favorable field position all evening. Their second touchdown drive started at the Owatonna 12-yard line and was converted on 3rd-and-long when Jacob Hemann found Ethan Chromy for a 14-yard connection that would prove to be New Prague’s only completion of the night.
For the majority of the night, the Trojans controlled time-of-possession and resourcefully sapped the clock by executing a methodical ground-oriented offense that steadily wore down an otherwise stout Owatonna defense. Ultimately, though, the unit was simply asked to over-compensate for its suddenly-unproductive offense and New Prague did more than enough to pull away.
Even on drives in which they didn’t score, the Trojans tightened their grip and maintained momentum. Notably, they consumed 7:52 on a 15-play, 42-yard march that ended with the ball bouncing sharply toward Owatonna’s end zone and rolling out of bounds at the 2-yard line with 10:55 left in the second. New Prague promptly took the ball back at the OHS 12-yard line after an interception and went ahead 14-0 on Chromy’s TD reception at 8:08.
The Huskies answered with their only sustained possession of the game and appeared destined to finally get on the board and steal momentum after stringing together a long drive that surpassed 60 yards when Maas darted through the defense all the way down to the 6-yard line with roughly 90 seconds on the clock.
Two plays later, though, Owatonna was whistled for holding, and that was it. The Huskies failed to cross midfield for the duration of the game and was forced into the uncomfortable position of attempting a comeback with a severely limited passing game and a shrinking window of opportunity.
Having already spoon-fed New Prague a pair of touchdowns in each of the first two quarters, the Trojans took less than a minute into the second half to gain a 21-0 lead when Brendan Pieper — who had been largely subdued in the first two quarters — busted loose for an 84-yard TD at the 11:01-mark. After that, New Prague sustained little offensive traction for the remainder of the game and scored their final six points on a pair of field goals after beginning both possessions deep inside Owatonna territory, the second of which started at the 13.
When all was said and done, OHS amassed 58% of its total offensive production on the single elongated possession in the second quarter and finished with just 111 total yards.
“It just, you know, I don’t know,” Williams said. “I am looking at what we did and trying very hard to find a positive in what we did tonight on offense. We just have to get better, because at some point, we have to get our offense to carry the water a little bit,”
Having surpassed 100 yards in two of his three previous games, Maas was held to 72 yards on 22 attempts while losing one fumble. He also caught one pass for seven yards. Ayden Walter finished with one reception for 15 yards.
PRESS COVERAGE I Important details, analysis & narratives
What happened? Owatonna was snake-bitten with a windfall of miscues that led to an ugly loss against a team that entered the game with an identical QRF and overall record. Though plain-old bad luck certainly played a significant role in the outcome, there’s no denying that the Huskies simply flat-lined on offense and made far too many miscues on special teams to remain competitive against the best New Prague team in several years.
Where does Owatonna go from here? The Huskies will have to dig deep and find a way to muster enough offensive punch to remain competitive moving forward, because there is still a very realistic, if not probable, chance that this team will be playing in the Section 1-5A championship game in a couple weeks as the second-seed in the six-team tournament.
NOTES I Extra stats, details, trends & highlights
The game lasted just 2 hours and 6 minutes of actual time...New Prague entered the contest having lost each of the first five meetings against Owatonna dating back to 2015 and picked up its first shutout of the season…Despite the likelihood of the Trojans entering the postseason with a 6-2 record, they will have an uphill battle just to win a single game in the ultra-stacked Section 2-5A bracket that includes three of the state’s top 10 teams, including No. 1 Mankato West…New Prague finished 1-for-5 through the air.
UP NEXT I Looking ahead at the upcoming matchup
Week 8: vs. Kasson-Mantorville, Wednesday, October 20, 7 p.m.
The KoMets (5-2): Kasson-Mantorville is one of the top handful of teams in all of Class 4A and is coming off a 52-point outburst on Friday, albeit against winless Red Wing. Objectively, the run-heavy KoMets probably stand a notch above New Prague, so it won’t be easy for the Huskies, especially on a short week.
New Prague 27, Owatonna 0
OHS 0 0 0 0—0
NPHS 7 7 7 6—27
NP—Jacob Hemann 1 run (Satchel Johnson kick), 8:18; 7-0 New Prague
NP—Ethan Chromy 14 pass from Hemann (Johnson kick), 8:08, 14-0
NP—Brendan Pieper 84 run (Johnson kick), 11:01; 21-0
NP—Johnson 22 field goal, 9:57; 24-0
NP—Johnson 30 field goal, 5:20, 27-0
Passing (comp-att-TD-INT): Jacob Ginskey 2- 14-23-0-4
Rushing (att-YDS-TD): Dylan Maas 22-72, Ginskey 5-12, Grant Achterkirch 1-4, Eli Knutson 1 (-18)
Receiving (rec-YDS-TD): Ayden Walter 1-15, Maas 1-8
Story and photos by Jon Weisbrod
Stats courtesy of Mark Sebring
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