The Grand Meadow Superlarks were looking to head back to the State Class 9-man football tournament after a two year hiatus Friday night at Art Hass Stadium in Austin against a very game Houston Hurricane squad who as the No. 5 seed had knocked off No. 4 seed Southland and No. 1 seed and Number 2-ranked LeRoy/Ostrander to earn their spot in the Section 1 championship game. The number two-seeded Larks cashed in on an early Houston fumble and wound up scoring 21 points off of four Hurricane turnovers on their way to a 35-0 win.
The Superlarks were forced into a three-and-out on their first possession of the game and Houston took over at their own 22 after a punt. Wyatt Walters, who scored four touchdowns in the semi-finals against LeRoy/Ostrander was separated from the ball on the first play and the fumble was recovered by Grand Meadow at the Hurricane 25. On 4th down and 8 from the 23, Superlark quarterback Evan Oehlke dashed 21 yards to the Houston 2-yard line to set up first and goal. He then bulled his way into the end zone on the next play to cap off the five-play, 25 yard touchdown drive and kicked the extra point to give Grand Meadow an early 7-0 lead.
Houston went three-and-out on their next drive which started from their 9-yard line, and Grand Meadow took over at their 46 after a punt. Oehlke connected with Taylor Glynn on a play-action pass for 25 yards to move the ball quickly to the Hurricane 29-yard line. The Larks ground game moved the ball to the 1-yard line where Dusty Copley took it into the end zone on the fifth play of the drive to increase Grand Meadow’s lead to 14-0 after the extra point.
Houston started the ensuing drive from their 14 and had the ball for seven plays, but were again forced to punt by the Superlark defense. Copley ran the punt back 26 yards to the Hurricane 42 and on the second play of the drive, Oehlke off play-action found Glynn again behind the Houston defense for a 42-yard touchdown pass and a 21-0 Grand Meadow lead.
Houston started their next drive in much better field position at their 45, and put together their longest drive of the game at the time to move the ball inside the Grand Meadow 30. On the ninth play of the drive, quarterback Mikkel Schutte was pressured as he let go of his pass and it was intercepted at the Superlark 13. Grand Meadow wasted no time going up top as on the first play, Oehlke’s pass deep down the left sideline found Nolan Skifter in stride, and 50 yards later Grand Meadow had the ball at the Hurricane 43. The other 12 plays of the 87-yard drive were all on the ground as the Larks grounded out yards and ran down the clock before Daniel Smith capped off the drive by going in from three yards out and a 28-0 Grand Meadow lead.
After the ensuing kickoff, Houston drove the ball from their 26 into the red zone for the first time in the game, but the Superlarks stopped the 11-play drive at their 15 with another interception, this one by Luke Speer and ran out the rest of the first half clock to go into halftime with a 28-0 lead.
Houston got the ball first to start the second half, but a bad exchange between Shutte and Wyatt Walters gave the ball right back to Grand Meadow at the Hurricane 33. The Superlarks promptly ended any hope of a Houston comeback by driving 33 yards in seven plays, capped off by a 3-yard touchdown run by Copley to give the Superlarks a 35-0 lead.
Grand Meadow racked up 12 first downs to 11 for Houston, and the Superlarks were penalized only once for 5 yards, while the Hurricanes were penalized only 3 times for 20 yards. Neither team tallied a sack in the game, but the biggest stat of all was the four turnovers for Houston, while Grand Meadow did not turn the ball over.
With the win, the Superlarks move to 10-1 on the season as they qualify for the state football tournament for the 10th time in school history. Grand Meadow will be right back at Art Hass Stadium next Friday night against Section 3 champion Mountain Lake Area, the number 1-ranked team in the state in Class 9-man in the final AP poll. The Wolverines defeated Hills/Beaver Creek 28-6 at SMSU in Marshall Friday to advance to state. We’ll have the game on AM 1480 KAUS, plus streaming live on our webpage at myaustinminnesota.com and on the I Heart Radio app. Pre-game will come your way at 6:30 p.m., with kickoff at 7:00 p.m.