Austin Packers football team falls victim to second half rally in 28-21 loss at Faribault Friday evening

In a game you heard on AM 1480 KAUS, the Austin Packers football team traveled to Faribault to take on the Falcons for their Homecoming game Friday evening in a Skyway District, Platnium Division and Section 1AAAA matchup.  In the first meeting between the two squads since 2020, it was the Packers with all of the momentum at the end of the first half and a 21-6 lead, but the Falcons power-T running attack and their defense took over in the second half as they rallied back with 22 unanswered points for a 28-21 win.

The game started as well as could have been expected for Austin, whose defense forced a three-and-out to start the game, and the Packers took over at their own 25-yard line after a punt.  A 32-yard pass from quarterback Dakota Retterath to wide receiver Isaac Osgood kicked the offense into gear, and on the 10th play of the drive from the Falcons 5-yard line, Retterath hit wideout Isaiah Conway with a slant pass in the end zone to give the Packers a 7-0 lead after Peyton Ransom’s extra point.

Faribault took over at their own 38 after the ensuing kickoff and had the ball for eight plays before turning the ball over to the Packers on downs at the Austin 28-yard line.  The Falcons defense then forced a three-and-out, and Retterath’s punt was brought in by Faribault’s Nolan Vogelsberg at the 18.  He then proceeded to run the punt back 55 yards to the Austin 27-yard line, the first of three big special teams plays in the game for the Falcons.  Three plays later, running back JT Hausen ran the ball into the end zone from 10 yards out for a touchdown and a 7-6 Austin lead after the ensuing 2-point conversion was no good.

Starting from their own 20 on their next possession, the Packers were forced into another three-and-out, and Faribault took over at the Austin 45-yard line after Retterath was forced to punt the ball out of the end zone.  The Packer defense then stepped to the fore as the forced a turnover on downs at the 20-yard line, and the Austin offense then kept the momentum going the Packers’s way as Retterath hooked up with Osgood on another long pass, this one for 55 yards into Falcon territory.  An 11-yard run by running back Garlo Gee helped to move the ball into the red zone, and on the sixth play of the drive, Gee rumbled into the end zone from 10 yards out to give Austin a 14-6 lead after Ransom’s extra point.

Momentum then went from sideline to sideline in the last minute of the second quarter as Faribault’s JT Hausen took the ensuing kickoff back 61 yards to the Austin 31-yard line to set up the Falcons offense with fantastic field position.  But, on the fourth play of the ensuing drive, momentum went back to the Packers as quarterback JJ Schrot rolled to his right and floated a pass on the run downfield that was picked off by Peyton Ransom, who proceeded to run the interception back 76 yards to the Faribault 13-yard line with only :09 to go.  On the first play of the ensuing drive, Retterath rolled to his right and fired a pass on the run that was snagged by Conway with a sliding catch just inside the goal line to give Austin a 21-6 halftime lead and momentum heading into the second half.

The Packers were looking to take full command of the game as they received the opening kickoff of the second half, but the Faribault 3-4 defense made a statement early as they forced a three-and-out, giving the ball to their offense at the Falcon 36.  Faribault’s power-T running attack then found its stride as the Falcons put together a 13-play, 64-yard touchdown drive, all runs, capped off by Schrot tunneling into the end zone from one yard out to cut Austin’s lead to 21-14 after he found Nolan Vogelsberg with the 2-point conversion pass.

Starting from their own 17, the Packers were forced to punt after five plays, giving the ball back to Faribault at midfield.  A 14-yard run by running back Braden Schulz moved the ball to the Austin 36-yard line, but the Packers were able to force the Falcons into a 4th and 9 situation at the 35.  Here the third big special teams play of the game for Faribault turned the game in their favor as with starting quarterback, punter and kicker JJ Schrot lost to injury, Nolan Vogelsberg set up to punt the football away on the first play of the fourth quarter.  Vogelsberg took the center snap and found running room to his left on a fake punt, taking the ball 20 yards to Austin 15-yard line for a first down.  On the eighth play of the drive it was Vogelsberg, now at quarterback as well following the middle of his offensive line into the end zone from two yards out, and his 2-point conversion run gave the Falcons their first lead of the game at 22-21.

The Packers took over on their own 18 after the ensuing kickoff, but they were again foiled by the Faribault defense, who sacked Retterath for a loss of 16 yards.  Immediately after the sack, the Packers were called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, which drove them back even further, and on fourth down, a runback by Vogelsberg on a Retterath punt from deep in Austin territory, coupled with a personal foul on the Packers after it was ruled Vogelsberg was hit while out of bounds gave the ball to the Falcons at the Austin 14-yard line.  Six plays later, running back Brayden Schulz ran into the end zone from four yards out, giving Faribault a 28-21 lead after the 2-point conversion was stopped.

Down seven points with 4:24 to go, the Packers embarked on a drive to try to tie the game as Retterath ran for gains of 20 and  19 yards to quickly move the ball into Falcon territory.  The Faribault defense stiffened, however, and on fourth and long, a pass from Retterath to wide receiver Peyton Ransom at the 5-yard line was knocked away, giving the ball to the Falcons at their 20 with 1:44 to go after the turnover on downs.  Here the game took a decidedly bizzare turn as with Austin using their last timeout, all the Falcons had to do was take a knee to run out the clock and win the game, but they inexplicably handed the ball off to Braden Schulz, who found running room through the left side of the line, but he was stripped of the ball from behind, and the Packers recovered at the Falcon 36-yard line with 1:12 to go and a very much unexpected second chance to tie the game.  The Faribault defense, though, stepped up one last time as they registered three of their six sacks for the game on the ensuing drive, giving the ball back to their offense after four plays, and this time, they took a knee to run out the clock for the win.

With the loss, the Packers are now 1-4 on the season, and they will play host to St. Agnes, the No. 6 team in the state in Class AA for Homecoming at Art Hass Stadium next Friday night, with kickoff at 7 p.m.  You’ll hear the game live on AM 1480 KAUS, with the pre-game show coming your way at 6:30 p.m.