A-R 57, Stanton 20: Double Trouble
CEDAR FALLS – If the road to the finals goes through the defending state champion, that’s not a problem for the Armstrong-Ringsted football team.
In 2007, the Mustangs defeated 2006 champion Northeast Hamilton 23-20 in an 8-Man quarterfinal matchup.
On Friday, No. 4 A-R took care of 2007 champion and No. 1 Stanton 57-20 in the 8-Man semifinal.
Looking at just the score, it appears this win wasn’t that difficult.
However, the Mustangs led by eight points, 28-20, midway through the third quarter.
Stanton had just answered a quick A-R score with one of its own when quarterback Chris Palmquist connected with a wide open Grant Focht on a 30-yard pass.
But after that, the breaks went A-R’s way which included a fumble and a safety on the way to scoring the final 29 points of the game.
“We feel very fortunate to walk out with a victory, let alone this size of victory,” said Zotz. “I think it was an excellent game through the first half and into the third quarter. But if the other team is trying to come back, sometimes they get away from their game plan.”
The victory earns A-R a return trip to the UNI-Dome on Friday, Nov. 21 against No. 8 Lenox, which defeated No. 5 Corwith-Wesley-Luverne 40-20 in Friday’s first semifinal game.
A-R rushed for 378 yards with Tyler Tonderum going for 213 on 22 carries and Christiansen for 159 on 33 carries.
Christiansen also was 4-5 passing with two touchdowns and one interception.
A-R held the defending champs to 149 yards rushing and 136 through the air.
“We just play smashmouth football,” said Tonderum.
The Mustangs had a dubious start against Stanton.
Starting at its 15, A-R drove deep into Viking territory.
On third-and-nine, Christiansen suffered just his second interception of the season when Focht stepped in front of his pass and returned the ball to the A-R 27.
“I was shocked. I’m not used to that,” said Christiansen. “But I kept my head and took it from there.”
Four running plays later, Alex Whigham scored on a 2-yard run.
The Mustang defense stuffed the two-point conversion attempt though as Stanton held a 6-0 lead at the 5:37 mark.
A-R went back to work when Spencer Clausen returning a squib kick to the 25.
That’s where the Mustangs started a 12-play drive with Christiansen and Tyler Tonderum doing the bulk of the work.
A-R overcame a second and-7 and converted two fourth downs on a drive that ended on a 12-yard run by Tonderum. Ethan Eisenbacher’s PAT gave A-R a 7-6 lead for the first quarter.
On Stanton’s next drive, it appeared Whigham couldn’t be stopped as he rushed for four consecutive first downs.
Finally Christiansen stepped up from his linebacker position to tackle him for a two-yard loss. A swing pass from Palmquist to Whigham fell incomplete on second down and A-R made two more stops to take over on downs at the Mustang 25.
The Mustang’s next drive took very little time. Three running plays by Christiansen, including converting a third-and-inches, got A-R to the 35. Tonderum ran up the middle for 5 yards and finally broke loose on the next play, scampering 40 yards down the left sideline. Although Eisenbacher’s kick was blocked, A-R led 13-6.
Stanton’s next drive went three plays and out as the Vikings punted on fourth-and-one from their 25-the only punt of the game.
The Mustangs quickly moved down field again with Christiansen completing his first pass to Seth Anderson for 28 yards. He followed that with a 12-yard run and Tonderum took the ball in from 13 yards out on the next play. The Eisenbacher kick gave A-R a 20-6 lead with 4:37 remaining in the half.
Stanton’s next drive ended when Clausen intercepted the ball and returned it to the Stanton 28.
The Mustangs appeared ready to take a three touchdown lead at halftime, but a false-start penalty on fourth-and-one didn’t help as Christiansen was stopped short of the first down on fourth-and-six.
Stanton drove one more time across midfield before halftime, but the A-R defense held.
The defending state champs came out of the locker room and put together a eight-play 56-yard drive with Focht scoring on a 3-yard run. Tanner Stubbendeck ran in the two-point conversion to cut the deficit to 20-14.
A-R didn’t take long to respond. Tonderum returned the kickoff to the Stanton 31-yard line and had a 4-yard run on first down.
On second-and-six, Christiansen completed his second pass of the game-a 27-yard touchdown pass to Tanner LaBore who broke out of the grasp of Whigham at the 5-yard line. Christiansen ran in the two-point conversion and A-R led 28-14 with 6:54 remaining in the third period.
When Stanton got the ball back, their second play from scrimmage was the 30-yard pass from Palmquist to Focht.
The Mustangs responded with a 63-yard drive which included a 6-yard run by LaBore for a first down and a 17-yard pass to Tonderum.
Christiansen ended the drive on a 1-yard dive with 2:04 left in the third quarter to make it 34-20.
The game started to fall apart for Stanton after that. Focht fumbled on second down with LaBore recovering the ball at the A-R 30.
Christiansen did the bulk of the running on this drive, but ended it with an 8-yard pass to Tonderum.The Eisenbacher PAT put the Mustangs up 41-20 and gave them breathing room.
A good return by Stanton started them at the A-R 30, but a tackle by Cody Hantelman in the backfield on third-and five had the Vikings facing a fourth-and-eight. Christiansen and Clausen made the stop 5 yards short of the first down.
On the next play, Tonderum again broke free from the Viking defense, scampering 55 yards down the left sideline. The Eisenbacher PAT made the score 48-20.
On Stanton’s first play of its next drive, the hike went past the quarterback Palmquist into the end zone. Palmquist could do nothing but fall on the ball for a Mustang safety.
When A-R got the ball back, Tonderum added the final score on a 22-yard run.
For A-R Anderson led the defense with 12 tackles while Christiansen had nine and Hantelman had eight tackles and a sack.
Asked how long he’d enjoy the victory, Tonderum said, “The rest of the day-and maybe the weekend. Monday, we’ll come back and start getting ready for Lenox.”