In a game you heard on AM 1480 KAUS, myaustinminnesota.com, and on the I Heart Radio and radio.com apps, the LeRoy-Ostrander Cardinals football team, the No. 8 team in the state in the latest Class 9-Man rankings was looking to get back on the winning track at home Friday night versus Mabel-Canton in a District 9 Southeast and Section 1 9-Man matchup, and in a game that saw the Cardinals trail by 13 points on three different occasions, and that also saw six lead changes, five of them in the second half, Cardinals quarterback Camden Hungerholt ran for five touchdowns and threw for another as the Cardinals edged the Cougars in a wild one, 51-50.
The Cardinals won the opening coin toss and elected to receive, and they marched down the field from their own 41-yard line, helped along by a 29-yard run from Hungerholt, who finished off the drive by running into the end zone from 20 yards out on 4th and less than a yard to give LeRoy/Ostrander a 7-0 lead after Ryder Stern’s extra point.
Mabel-Canton came right back, however, featuring two excellent running backs in Tyler Larson and Cayden Tollefsrud in a power running attack, and it was Tollefsrud ripping off a 50-yard touchdown run to cap off a four-play, 64-yard touchdown drive to give the Cougars an 8-7 lead after a two-point conversion run from Larson.
LeRoy-Ostrander started their next drive from their own 20, and on the eighth play of the drive, what looked to be a hook and ladder play that was ruled a fumble when the pitch missed the intended receiver was recovered by Mabel-Canton, and on the very first play of the ensuing drive from the Cardinals 38-yard line, it was Tollefsrud sprinting into the end zone to give the Cougars a 14-7 lead after one quarter when the 2-point conversion was missed.
LeRoy-Ostrander started their next drive from their own 28, but they were forced to punt after eight plays, giving the ball back to the Cougars at their own 26. On the sixth play of the ensuing drive, quarterback Isaac Underbakke executed a play-action fake, set up in the pocket and found sophomore Kale Tollefsrud wide open down the middle of the field for a 34-yard touchdown pass, and Mabel-Canton led 20-7 after the 2-point conversion was again no good.
The Cardinals started a drive from their own 30 after the kickoff that saw Hungerholt go to the air and find wide receiver Carter Sweeney, who caught a 15-yard pass on 3rd and 10, and also a 16-yard pass later in the drive to help move the ball inside the 5-yard line. On the 13th play of the drive, running back Carson Roe found some daylight between center and right guard and burrowed into the end zone from 2 yards out to cut the Cougar lead to 20-13 after the extra point was missed.
Mabel-Canton’s ground attack went right back to work on their next drive, as a six-play, 64 yard march ended with an 18-yard touchdown run from running back Tyler Larson and a 26-13 Cougar lead late in the first half after another 2-point conversion was missed. With under two minutes left in the half, the Cardinals started their next drive from their own 42-yard line. On the sixth play, Hungerholt went up top deep down the right sideline, and Sweeney was able to come back and make the catch on a ball that was a bit underthrown, shake a tackler and take the ball the rest of the way into the end zone for a 46-yard touchdown to cut Mabel-Canton’s lead at the half to 26-21.
The Cougars were to receive the second half kickoff, but Malyk Schaefer’s ground ball kickoff down the left side of the field was recovered by the Cardinals at the Mabel-Canton 40-yard line. After a 16-yard pass to Sweeney on 3rd and 8, Hungerholt took the ball into the end zone from 14 yards out to cap off the six-play drive, and that gave the Cardinals the lead back at 29-26 after a 2-point conversion pass from Hungerholt to running back Carson Roe.
Mabel-Canton was able to seize momentum back, however, as starting from their own 46 on the ensuing drive after the kickoff, running back Tyler Larson bulldozed his way into the end zone from four yards out, and Cayden Tollefsrud’s 2-point conversion run promptly put the Cougars back in front, 34-29. After LeRoy-Ostrander turned the ball over on downs at their own 49 on their next drive, the Cougars power running attack was put on display as an 11-play 49-yard march ended with Tollefsrud going into the end zone from one yard out, and his 2-point conversion run gave the Cougars yet another 13-point lead at 42-29.
The Cardinals, who are no strangers to second-half comebacks this season then started another one as starting their next drive from their own 34-yard line, a 39-yard pass from Hungerholt to Sweeney moved the ball into the red zone, and on the fourth play of the drive, Hungerholt sprinted off right end into the end zone and a 42-37 score after a 2-point conversion pass to Logan Diemer. The Cardinal defense then continued the momentum by forcing a three-and-out and the only punt of the game by Mabel-Canton on their next drive, and starting from their own 37, a 46-yard run by Hungerholt put the ball inside the 10-yard line. On the fourth play, it was Hungerholt again finding paydirt from 6 yards out to put the Cardinals back in front, 43-42 after the 2-point conversion was no good.
The back-and-forth nature of the game quickly went back on full display on the ensuing LeRoy-Ostrander kickoff, as another ground ball kick from Schaefer was fielded beautifully by Isaac Underbakke at the Cardinals 48, and he sprinted the other way untouched into the end zone to quickly give the Cougars the lead back at 50-43 after Tyler Larson’s 2-point conversion run.
Undeterred, the Cardinals started their next drive from their own 26, and yet another big run from Hungerholt that spanned 35 yards moved the ball into the red zone, and on the 11th play of the drive, Hungerholt’s fifth touchdown run of the game from one yard out put LeRoy-Ostrander back in front 51-50 after he added a 2-point conversion run.
With 3:43 left and two timeouts, the Cougars started their next drive from their own 20 after a touchback, and they nearly took the lead right back on the first play from scrimmage as Cayden Tollefsrud ran through a hole on the left side of the line, cut upfield and sprinted 42 yards to the Cardinals 38-yard line. Tollefsrud ran for seven yards on first down, but here the Cardinals defense stiffened as Tollefsrud was stopped for no gain on 2nd and 3, and on 3rd and 3, defensive tackle Mason Diemer led the charge as a gang of Cardinal defenders dropped Tollefsrud for a 3-yard loss. With Mabel-Canton now facing 4th and 6 with 1:50 to go, quarterback Isaac Underbakke went back to pass, but it was Diemer again leading the way as he burst through the line and sacked Underbakke from the blind side to force a turnover on downs, and the Cardinals then ran out the clock to clinch the thrilling win.
LeRoy-Ostrander was whistled for 10 penalies for 59 yards in the game, while Mable-Canton was called for one penalty for 15 yards. The Cardinals amassed 20 first downs to 14 for the Cougars, and Diemer’s sack was the only one of the game for either side. The fumble by the Cardinals in their second drive of the game wound up being the only turnover of the game, which was converted into six points by Mabel-Canton.
With the thrilling win, the Cardinals are now 6-1 on the season,and they will finish out the regular season in Grand Meadow versus the Superlarks next Wednesday evening, with kickoff at 7 p.m.