Prep Bowl: New London-Spicer wins Class 3A championship on amazing last-second touchdown
Totino-Grace now has company at the top of the list for fantastic Prep Bowl finishes. Joining the Eagles is New London-Spicer, who etched in the minds a jaw-dropping conclusion to the Class AAA championship game on Saturday, Dec. 3 at U.S. Bank Stadium.
In a nod to the playground football from their youth, New London-Spicer needed creativity amid desperation to post a stunning 27-26 victory over Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton as time expired to turn a loss that was seconds away into a euphoric victory that will forever be remembered in Prep Bowl lore.
From 48 yards away and one play left in the season, New London-Spicer sophomore quarterback Blake Schultz heaved a high, arching pass down the far sideline. In defensive congestion, junior Grant Paffrath caught the pass at about the 15-yard line and stumbled forward. With the presence of mind to not be tackled and to keep the play alive, he spotted teammate senior split end Brycen Christensen trailing the play. A quick lateral to the undefended Christensen created an unhindered path to the end zone and a celebration of stunned fans wearing black and yellow.
It is New London-Spicer’s second Class AAA championship in four Prep Bowl appearances. The Wildcats’ other crown was in 2009.
The exhilarating finish immediately drew comparisons to Totino-Grace’s last second victory over Mahtomedi in the Class AAAA championship game in 2007. In that game, as time expired, Totino-Grace quarterback Jordan Marshal lofted a Hail Mary pass from midfield aimed at the near sideline. In a congestion of players, the ball was tipped by Mahtomedi defender Nick Cedargren and then tipped again by the intended receiver, Jade King. The live ball ended up in the hands of Micah Koehn, who tip-toed down the sideline with a stunning touchdown, and for a touch of panache, he ended his scoring scamper with a forward flip. Just moments earlier, Mahtomedi had taken its first lead of the game when Vaughn Schmid hit Matt Groff on a 15-yard touchdown pass with less than a minute remaining in regulation. Groff, a standout linebacker on defense, also caught the successful two-point conversion.
“Without a doubt, they are Nos. 1 and 1A on the list of ways to end a Prep Bowl,” said St. Paul’s Dave Wright, the longtime League football press box public address announcer. “Those two are awfully tough to beat.”
On the ensuing possession, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (12-1) regained the lead with drama of its own. Senior running back Jordan Summers gave the Rebels a 26-21 lead on a 10-yard run with 24 seconds remaining in regulation. It was the second touchdown for Summers, who ended up with 169 yards on 33 carries. Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton was making its first appearance in a Prep Bowl championship game.
Senior quarterback Owen Leach pulled the Rebels to within 21-20 on the first play of the fourth quarter when he bulled his way into the end zone from two yards out. A missed extra point prevented the third tie of the game. Leach’s touchdown, his second of the game, completed a 77-play drive that ate up nearly seven minutes of clock.
Midway through the third quarter, New London-Spicer snapped a halftime tie on a 1-yard run from Schultz with 6:49 left. The 9-play, 42-yard drive lifted the Wildcats into a 21-14 advantage.
Schultz completed 11 of 14 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns to pace New London-Spicer (11-2). Junior running back Mason Delzer rushed for 119 yards on 27 carries.
An evenly-played first half was reflected on the scoreboard with a 14-all tie.
Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton created that deadlock when senior quarterback Owen Leach caught a 10-yard halfback option pass from sophomore Caleb Johnson with 2:10 remaining in the second quarter. Earlier, New London-Spicer completed two quick touchdown drives on a 5-yard pass from Schlutz to junior running back Mason Delzer that gave the Wildcats a 14-7 lead. On the first play of the second quarter, Delzer scored on a 4-yard run.
Senior running back Jordan Summers opened the scoring for Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton on a 12-yard run.
Summers led all ball carriers with 90 yards rushing on 19 carries in the first half. Delzer was close behind for New London-Spicer with 86. Schlutz completed 5 of 6 passes for 75 yards and a touchdown.