November 23, 2018 05:05 PM
Caledonia turned back a Barnesville upset bid that lasted three quarters before pulling away for a 21-0 victory in the Class AA championship game on Friday, Nov. 23 at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The victory gave the Warriors (13-0) their fourth consecutive Class AA championship and ninth since 2007. It was the program’s 10th football crown overall. In 1976, the Warriors were the Class B champion. The win also was Caledonia’s 54th in a row, the longest active streak in the country.
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Caledonia, which powered its way to a 57-6 victory over Pipestone Area in the 2017 Class AA championship game, didn’t have the luxury of a wide margin a year later against Barnesville (11-3). The Warriors couldn’t breathe easy until the final minutes of the fourth quarter when they scored two touchdowns in a one-minute span to seal their victory.
Nursing a 7-0 lead and relying on its defense to turn away Barnesville with timely stops, Caledonia finally gained the separation on the scoreboard it was seeking when senior running back Tate Meiners scored on a 1-yard run with 4:29 remaining in regulation time. On Barnesville’s next possession, senior defensive back Payton Schott intercepted a pass by senior quarterback Preston Snobl and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown that sealed the Warriors’ victory.
In Caledonia’s closest previous encounter in the Prep Bowl championship game, it needed a 24-yard field goal as time expired to record a 25-22 victory over Moose Lake/Willow River in the Class AA championship in 2012.
Senior running back Nick McCabe led the Warriors with 115 rushing yards on 14 attempts. Junior quarterback Noah King rushed for 34 yards and threw for 84. Barnesville sophomore starting quarterback Adam Tonsfeldt led the Trojans’ offense with 88 rushing yards on 18 carries. The Trojans were held to 132 total yards, all on the ground.
Barnesville had the edge in time of possession by one minute, but its comeback attempts were thwarted in key situations. The Trojans were 3 of 11 in third-down situations and 0 for 3 in fourth-down situations.
The Trojans were attempting to capture a state title for the first time in three championship game appearances. In previous title-game berths, the Trojans were the Class B runner-up in 1978 and the Class A runner-up in 2010.
McCabe scored the only touchdown of the first that gave the Warriors a 7-0 lead at the break. He scored on a 22-yard run that capped a short three-play, 23-yard drive. He had 52 rushing yards on eight attempts in the opening 24 minutes of playing.
The defenses stole the rest of the spotlight in the first half. Caledonia had 126 yards on 31 plays while Barnesville had 32 total yards on 21 plays. Turnovers played a role in that as well. Barnesville had two lost fumbles in the first half, and Caledonia had a fumble and an interception.
Updated: November 23, 2018 05:05 PM
Created: November 23, 2018 04:54 PM
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