Big plays bring end to Trojans’ season

The Northfield Raiders used several big plays to defeat the New Prague Trojans 39-7 in the Section 2AAAAA football playoffs Tuesday, Oct. 22.

            The Raiders scored on a 30-yard run, a 55-yard pass, a fumble return and an interception return. Their offense had 439 total yards, 285 of them on the ground and 154 passing, and the Raiders were forced to punt just twice on the night.

            The loss ended the Trojans’ season with a 1-8 record, their worst season since going 0-8 in 1998.

            “It was a tough year,” Coach Jim Benick said after the game. “We had some adversity, but the kids hung together. They practiced hard and played hard.”

            He said while the season didn’t go as the team had hoped, he enjoyed working with what he described as a great group of kids.

            “We’re going to miss the 19 seniors on this squad.”

            One of those seniors, JT Butler, provided the highlight of the evening for the Trojans. After the Raiders drove 90 yards on the game’s first possession for a touchdown, Butler answered by taking the ensuing kick and returning it 90 yards for a touchdown. It was his second kick return for a score this season, and Jake Klein’s kick tied the game at 7-7

            It didn’t take the Raiders long to answer though, as they scored on a  55-yard pass play just a few plays later, and added another touchdown later in the quarter for a 21-7 lead.

            The Raiders added another score early in the second when Trojan quarterback Tyler Johnson fumbled and the Raiders picked it up and returned it for a touchdown. Northfield led 27-7 at halftime.

            The Raiders got on the board in the third quarter with a field goal from 21 yards out. Less than a minute later a Johnson pass was intercepted and returned 60 yards for a score, making it 36-7.

            Northfield closed out the scoring with a 20-yard field goal with 8:33 remaining to make it 39-7.

            Johnson completed 4-of-13 passes for 26 yards. Butler caught two of those for 12 yards, with James Fuerniss with one catch for eight yards and Klein one for six yards.

            Nathan Zweber had eight carries for 39 yards, with Butler gaining 11 yards on three carries, Ben Buthe 8 yards on two carries and Johnson 5 yards on four carries.

            Defensively, Buthe had 7.5 tackles to lead the Trojans. Alex McHugh and Molitor both had 5.5 tackles, Joe Heinz had four, Danny Beckius and Logan Dykstra had three each.

            Chanhassen defeated Waconia in the other Section 2AAAAA first round game Tuesday. On Saturday, Northfield travels to Chaska and Chanhassen is at Mankato West.

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