Gridders hold on to beat Stars, 7-6

For the second straight week, the New Prague Trojans scored the first touchdown of the game in the closing seconds of the first half. This time, it would be their only score, but that, and a blocked field goal in the final minute of the game, proved to be enough to beat the Holy Angels Stars 7-6 at Trojan Field Friday, Sept. 10.

As was the case the previous week, New Prague had trouble getting things going offensively in the first half. They had just three first downs in the half and turned the ball over twice, once on an interception and once on a fumble.

But the Trojans stopped Holy Angels and forced a punt late in the half. Then, on the next play, quarterback Ross Skluzacek threw to Mike Hafermann for a 57-yard score with eight seconds left in the half. Mark Laban added the extra point and that gave the Trojans a 7-0 lead at the half.

While the Trojans couldn't move the ball, the Stars had limited luck as well. Holy Angels did not get a first down in the first half. Their longest play from scrimmage was an 11-yard gain on a fake punt that came up one yard short of a first down.

The Trojans did a great job of pressuring Holy Angels. Brian O'Neill recorded two sacks and Kevin Pexa had one. Holy Angels completed just one pass in the first half, for a one-yard gain. New Prague outgained Holy Angels 100-36 in the first half.

The defenses continued to dominate in the second half. Holy Angels couldn't convert on its first three possessions, but neither could the Trojans, who fumbled the ball away twice in the third quarter. Holy Angels finally got a pair of first downs and started to move the ball, but Mike Hoemke intercepted a third down pass early in the fourth to stop that drive and give the Trojans the ball in good field position.

Then New Prague returned the favor, throwing an interception on a fourth down play. Holy Angels gave it right back on the next play, with Jeff Pumper picking off a Holy Angels' pass. Both teams traded possessions, with Holy Angels making a few more first downs.

The Stars got the ball back late in the game and scored on a seven-play, 33-yard drive, capped by a 1-yard run by quarterback Jeff Boyle with 57.9 seconds left. The point after was no good, and the Trojans kept the lead.

New Prague hoped to run out the clock, but couldn't move the ball. The Trojans tried three running plays, and each was followed by a Holy Angels timeout.

Holy Angels got the ball back in good field position and tried for a field goal, but it was blocked by O'Neill, and New Prague got the ball back and ran out the clock.

New Prague had just five yards rushing for the entire game, and 116 yards passing for 121 yards of total offense. Laban was the leading rusher, with 12 carries for 14 yards.

Skluzacek was 7 of 18 passing for 127 yards and a score, but he had two interceptions.

Hafermann was the leading receiver, with three catches for 79 yards. Eric Bisek caught two passes for 35 yards and Pumper had two catches for 13 yards.

Holy Angels had 136 yards for the game, 111 on the ground and 25 in the air.

Joe Barten led New Prague with 10 solo tackles and seven assists, while O'Neill had nine solos and three assists.

New Prague will match its 2-0 record against that of Hutchinson Friday, at Hutchinson. The Tigers are coming off a 14-13 win against top-ranked Farmington.

In this week's Associated Press poll, Hutchinson was ranked No. 3 and New Prague No. 8. Two other Missota Conference teams are ranked, with Northfield ascending to No. 1 and Farmington dropping from first to seventh.

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