MARSHALL - When Dawson-Boyd and Minneota/Lincoln HI last met on Sept. 21, the Vikings were able to use a combination of pressure on the quarterback and big passing plays to defeat the Blackjacks 18-14. On Friday, in the Section 5A championship at Mattke Field, the Blackjacks were able to flip the script on the Vikings and keep their Class A state title defense alive with a 42-21 win.
With the taste of that September defeat still clinging to their palates, the Blackjacks were led to victory by four touchdown tosses by quarterback Joey Lee, three of which were to Nathaniel Huot. Meanwhile, the Dawson-Boyd defense was in the face of Vikings quarterback Austin Buysse throughout the contest, leading to two interceptions and two sacks.
"That Week 4 loss at our senior homecoming was definitely motivation for us to come out here and get it done," Huot said. "I felt that us seniors, especially, we had to step up and make big plays."
Photo by Matt Dahlseid
Dawson-Boyd senior wide receiver Nathaniel Huot celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter of the Blackjacks’ 42-21 win over Minneota/Lincoln HI in the Section 5A championship game at Mattke Field at the Regional Event Center.
His 12-yard reception from Lee with 5 minutes, 40 seconds remaining in the first quarter started the scoring for the Blackjacks.
"We remembered that and we've remembered it all season," Lee said of the first meeting between the teams. "That's been one of our motivators all season. We played bad that game, and obviously they play good football against us every time they play us."
Nathan Pavek evened the score for the Vikings three minutes later on a 29-yard touchdown run to cap off a seven-play, 64-yard drive.
The Blackjacks answered right back, as Justin Lee walked into the end zone from 10 yards out with 12 seconds left in the opening quarter. Lee, who had injured his hamstring in Dawson-Boyd's 23-7 win over Canby in the 5A semifinals, had 89 yards on the ground despite the Vikings' dedication to stopping the run.
Following punts from the Vikings and Blackjacks to start the second quarter, the Blackjacks forced their first turnover of the night as Joey Lee intercepted an overthrown pass by Buysse. The junior quarterback was under duress and threw off his back foot, allowing Lee to break on the ball.
"It wasn't my guy he was throwing to," Lee said. "I think he overthrew the out route. I almost lost the ball in the lights, but was able to come down with it. It turned out to be a pretty big play for us."
According to Larson, the pressure and the resulting pick were the dividends of a the Blackjacks' game plan, which focused on keeping Buysse out of his comfort zone.
"Last time we got no pressure on him. We certainly needed to. We were going to allow them to throw the football, but we didn't want him to get comfortable," Larson said. "And right from the start, we got a guy in his face.
"We didn't have that many sacks, but usually as he released the football he was getting hit. We did what we needed to do there. We knew they were going to complete some passes, but we were able to take away their run game and force them into throwing the ball every down. Plus, when you grab the lead like that, they needed quick scores."
Dawson-Boyd wasted little time in taking advantage of the turnover. Three plays after the interception, Lee hit Huot for a 25-yard score, their second connection of the night.
"Tonight they were keying in on Justin (Lee) and our run game a lot, so it gave me a lot of open space," Huot said. "And Joey did a great job of throwing me the ball and the line did a great job blocking for him."
Penalties snuffed out the Vikings' response on the following drive, as the Vikings were unable to take advantage of their best starting field position of the night. After the turnover on downs, the Blackjacks moved 72 yards on three plays to make the score 28-7 before the half.
A four yard run by Michael Anyasike was followed by a 23-yard reception by Huot. On the next play, Joey Lee connected with cousin Michael Lee for a 47-yard touchdown with 2:19 remaining in the half.
The Blackjacks received the ball to start the second half and needed just two plays from scrimmage to extend their lead to 35-7. Huot took a short pass from Lee 63 yard for the third scoring connection between the two.
For as successful as the Blackjacks were at pressuring Buysse, they were equally successful in protecting Lee. With ages to throw, the junior signal caller completed 13 of 15 passes for 283 yards.
"Reall,y it starts with the guys up front," Larson said. "Joey was able to get comfortable. We were running the ball well, so our play action worked. We hit on a few things early that they hadn't seen before, and certainly Joey stepped up and had a great game. He's that type of kid that just loves the bigger stage."
Added Lee, "That's huge for us, to have guys that can give us time back there to throw. They have very good defensive ends, very good linebackers. They didn't do as much blitzing, they really keyed on our run. But we were able to step back there and make a few throws, and Nathaniel made a couple plays that really made it look good on the stat sheet."
Huot's fourth touchdown of the game, a 30-yard run with 8:05 remaining in the third quarter, separated two touchdown passes by Buysse.
The Vikings quarterback connected on a 2-yard strike to Alec Engler with 9:38 remaining, and followed Huot's rushing score with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Grant Hennen with 3:44 left in the third quarter.
Buysse finished the game 24-for-41 for 185 yards and a pair of touchdowns and two interceptions. The Vikings' two primary playmakers, Jeff Gladis and Isaac Josephson were kept quiet on a night in which the Vikings only outgained Huot by five yards (255 to 250). Gladis had 45 total yards on 13 touches, while the dynamic Josephson had 70 total yards on 11 touches.
During a scoreless fourth quarter, Buysse's second interception of the night all but secured the win for the Blackjacks as Michael Lee returned the pick 12 yards to midfield with 4:10 left in the game. Dawson-Boyd ate up four minutes before giving the ball back to Minneota/Lincoln HI and sacking Buysse on the final play.
The Blackjacks (10-1 overall) improve to 2-2 against the Vikings in the last four Section 5A championships and will open the Class A state tournament against Browerville at 7 p.m. Friday at Big Cat Stadium in Morris.
The Vikings end their season at 9-2 overall, but with a bulk of their roster returning for 2013, they are in position to make a strong run at a return trip to the 5A final again next year.
Dawson-Boyd14 14 14 0-42
Minneota/LHI 7 0 14 0-21
D-Nathaniel Huot 12 pass from Joey Lee (Easton Popma kick), 5:40
M-Nathan Pavek 29 run (Niels Peterson kick), 2:34
D-Justin Lee 10 run (Popma kick), 0:12
D-Huot 25 pass from Jo. Lee (Popma kick), 7:20
D-Michael Lee 47 pass from Jo. Lee (Popma kick), 2:19
D-Huot 63 pass from Jo. Lee (Popma kick), 11:09
M-Alec Engler 2 pass from Austin Buysse (Peterson kick), 9:38
D-Huot 30 run (Popma kick), 8:05
M-Grant Hennen 3 pass from Buysse (Peterson kick), 3:44
Rushing: D-Justin Lee 13-89, Michael Anyasike 13-30, Nathaniel Huot 3-33, Noah Stelter 2-5; M-Jeff Gladis 10-39, Isaac Josephson 5-21, Nathan Pavek 4-27, Austin Buysse 2-(-17).
Passing (comp-att-yards-int): D-Joey Lee 13-15-283-0; M-Buysse 24-41-185-2, Josephson 0-1-0-0.
Receiving: D-Huot 9-217, Michael Lee 2-53, Kyler Collins 1-7, Jamie Arvold 1-6; M-Alec Engler 7-51, Josephson 6-49, Jordan Beck 5-50, Gladis 3-6, Grant Hennen 2-8, Pavek 1-21.
INT: D-Jo. Lee, M. Lee; M-none.