Zephyrs' fast start too much for Trojans

The Mahtomedi Zephyrs were too big and too quick for the New Prague Trojans as they ended the Trojans' season with a 31-15 state quarterfinal win Thursday at Macalester College in St. Paul.

It was the second time in three years that the Zephyrs beat the Trojans in the state playoffs. The teams met in the semifinals and scored a come-from-behind win over the Trojans in 2005.

The Zephyrs didn't need to come back this time. They took the opening drive and marched 80 yards on eight plays before scoring on a 21-yard touchdown pass from Vaughn Schmid to Justin Gominsky. The drive lasted lass than three minutes. Adam Moen's kick made it 7-0.

The Trojans picked up a first down on its first possession, but the drive stalled at midfield, and New Prague was forced to punt. Mahtomedi got the ball past midfield, but a penalty sent them back, and a third down sack forced a Zephyr kick.

The teams traded kicks back and forth. Mahtomedi got the first score of the second quarter on a field goal, then on their next possession, scored on an 8-yard pass from Schmid to Gominsky, taking a 17-0 lead with 1:20 remaining in the half.

New Prague went into the locker room with a bit of momentum, though. After a big return to midfield by Drew Feuk, the Trojans scored two plays later on a 46-yard pass from Tim Stepka to Brad Weiers. The 6-foot, 6-inch receiver leaped high for the ball near the 30-yard line and then broke a couple tackles before sprinting to the end zone.

Kyle Buro's point after made it a 17-7 score at halftime.

The second half started poorly for the Trojans. Stepka was intercepted on the Trojans' second play, and Mahtomedi drove 62 yards for a score, on a 2-yard run by Stephen Johnson. The point after made it a 24-7 game.

On the ensuing kick, a squib kick bounced off a Trojan player's leg, and Mahtomedi recovered. The Zephyrs, however, weren't able to capitalize and were stopped short on a fourth-and-1 play, giving the Trojans the ball back on their own 31.

Stepka completed a 28-yard pass on second down and converted on a fourth-down play with a 5-yard run by Nick Zweber. However, a holding penalty and a sack of Stepka put the Trojans in a hole, and New Prague turned the ball over on downs.

During New Prague's next possession, Stepka completed a 17-yard pass to Marty DeValk, but then was intercepted. Mahtomedi turned the turnover into a 10-play scoring drive, all on the ground, capped with a 1-yard run by Johnson with 6:33 left, giving the Zephyrs a 31-7 lead.

New Prague wasn't about to quit. The Trojans answered with a quick drive covering 64 yards in nine plays that took a little more than a minute. Key plays were an 11-yard run by Zweber on a fourth-and-3, a 12-yard pass to Weiers, followed by a 9-yard pass to Eric Meger, and a 2-yard touchdown pass to Zweber. Andy Zweber scored the two-point conversion, and the Trojans trailed by 16 points with nearly five minutes remaining.

Mahtomedi recovered the ensuing onside kick, but on fourth-and-3, they failed to convert on a fake punt, coming up a yard short, giving the Trojans the ball on their own 42. New Prague appeared to be headed for another score after Stepka threw a 32-yard pass to DeValk inside the 10-yard line, but a fumble, an incompletion and a pair of sacks ended the threat and the Trojans' chances for a comeback.

Mahtomedi outgained the Trojans 321-263. That included a 115-35 advantage on the ground. New Prague had a 263-115 advantage in passing. Stepka completed 16 of 31 passes for 228 yards. Weiers had seven catches for 124 yards, Nick Zweber had two for 25, DeValk three for 56, Feuk two for 12 and Meger two for 11. On the ground, Nick Zweber was the leading gainer with 26 yards on eight carries, with his brother Andy gaining 22 yards on three carries. Meger had one carry for 13 yards and Feuk one for four yards. Stepka had 10 carries for a minus-30 yards, due mostly to six sacks.

Defensively the Trojans were led by Nick Zweber's 17 tackles. Andy Zweber had 11, while Russ Kes had eight, Tyler Bergstrom and Josh Lindquist seven and Weiers and Justin Novak six. Lindquist and Jirik combined for the Trojans' only sack.

The Trojans completed their season with a 6-6 record and their third straight section title and state tournament appearance. This was the final game for captains Weiers, Zweber, Kes and Mike Jirik, along with 25 other seniors on the Trojans' playoff roster.

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