It was Homecoming for the Blooming Prairie Awesome Blossoms football team at McFarlin Field Friday night as they played host to the red-hot Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop Thunderbirds in a Mid-Southeast District White Division matchup, and it was the Thunderbirds’ Power-T running attack holding sway as junior running back Garrett Schmidt accounted for 22 of GFW’s 38 points with three touchdown runs and two 2-point conversion runs as the Thunderbirds downed the Blossoms 38-20 for their fifth win in a row.
GFW took the opening kickoff and traveled 64 yards in 12 plays for a touchdown and a lead they would not relinquish, helped immensely by a 23-yard pass on 4th and 5 from quarterback Dominic Rose to tight end Braylan Freitag, and an 18-yard run later in the drive on 4th and 2 by Schmidt, who wound up with 17 carries for 126 yards and the three touchdowns. A 2-point conversion pass from Rose to Freitag gave the Thunderbirds an 8-0 lead, and they increased their lead to 16-0 in the second quarter as Schmidt bulled his way into the end zone from two yards out, capping off a 7-play, 73-yard drive.
Blooming Prairie answered the GFW touchdown on the ninth play of the ensuing drive when sophomore quarterback Brady Kittleson found sophomore wide receiver Alex Lea on a screen pass to the left, and Lea took the ball into the end zone from 21 yards out and a 16-8 score after a 2-point conversion pass from Kittleson to senior wide receive Cade Christenson.
The Blossoms carried the momentum of that touchdown drive into the second half as starting from their own 30 on the first drive of the half, the BP ground game of Kittleson and Lea quickly moved the ball to the Thunderbirds 27-yard line. On the fourth play of the drive, Kittleson kept the ball on the read option and made his way down the middle of the field into the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown run and a 16-14 GFW lead after the try for two points was no good.
The Blooming Prairie defense then kept things going the Blossoms’ way as they forced a three-and-out, giving the ball back to their offense at their own 33-yard line. A 19-yard run by Lea helped move the ball into GFW territory, but there the Thunderbirds defense helped to turn momentum back their way when they forced a turnover on downs at their 26. GFW’s Power-T running attack took over from there, and 12 plays later, a 1-yard touchdown run by Schmidt and his 2-point conversion run put the Thunderbirds back up by two scores at 24-14.
The Awesome Blossoms started their next drive at their own 28, but a high shotgun snap foiled the drive after five plays, and in a critical turning point in the game, the punt snap to Kittleson on 4th and long sailed well over his head, forcing him to scoop up the ball at the goal line. Kittleson tried to work his way back upfield, but he was tackled at the 3-yard line, putting GFW in prime position to add to their lead. Running back Rex Munson did just that on the first play of the ensuing drive with a 3-yard touchdown run, giving the Thunderbirds a 30-14 lead after the 2-point conversion attempt was missed.
Undeterred, the Blossoms came storming back on their next drive as starting from their own 40, Kittleson found Christenson down the right sideline on the fifth play of the drive for a 32-yard scoring strike and a 30-20 GFW lead after Christenson was tackled just short of the goal line after catching a pass during the 2-point conversion try. The Thunderbirds, though, went back to their power running attack on the ensuing drive late in the 4th quarter as starting at the BP 44-yard line after an onsides kick by the Blossoms went only four yards, it was Schmidt capping off the ensuing eight-play drive with a 2-yard touchdown run and the 38-20 final after his 2-point conversion run.
Kittleson was 14 for 27 passing for Blooming Prairie for 198 yards and two touchdowns, plus he carried the ball four times for 47 yards and a touchdown. Alex Lea was the leading ball carrier for BP with nine carries for 62 yards, and Cade Christianson was the leading receiver for the Blossoms Friday night with seven catches for 104 yards and a touchdown, and Lea totaled six catches for 99 yards and a touchdown. The Blossoms totaled 193 passing yards to 23 for GFW, but the Thunderbirds rolled up 314 yards on the ground, and they also helped their winning cause by dominating time of possession 31:30 to 16:30.
With the loss, Blooming Prairie is now 3-3 on the season, and the Awesome Blossoms are back in action next Thursday night in New Richland versus NRHEG, with kickoff at 7:00 p.m.