Prairie shuts down Wallace's ground game
<p>Wallace's Nathan Cook (with ball) runs over defender Devin Schmidt of Prairie during Saturday's playoff game at Sather Field.</p>
| November 7, 2010 8:00 PM
SILVERTON - The Prairie Pirates scored 20 unanswered points and kept the powerful Wallace Miner offense from scoring in the second half on their way to a 26-16 victory in the state 1A Division I football quarterfinals Saturday afternoon at Sather Field.
The Pirates shut down the Wallace running game while imposing their own will on the ground as they came back from a 16-12 halftime deficit to knock the Miners out of the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
"I thought defensively we came out and made a statement in the second half," Prairie head coach Travis Mader said. "I was proud of the defense all day long ... can't say enough about how the defense played."
Mader said the Pirates keyed on stopping senior running back Nathan Cook, and managed to do just that, holding him to 22 yards rushing on 12 carries and keeping him out of the end zone.
"We pretty much knew that he was their man, so we knew if we shut down Cook we'd have a good chance," he said.
Prairie snagged its first lead of the game early in the second half by taking advantage of a short field. After stopping Wallace on fourth down in its own territory, the Pirates moved downfield 41 yards in just five plays and scored on a 5-yard run by Devin Schmidt to go ahead 18-16.
Prairie forced a three-and-out to get the ball back just two minutes later and embarked on a 12-play, 63-yard drive to extend the lead. Schmidt and fellow running back Brock Heath traded carries to get to the Wallace 25-yard line. The defense stiffened to force a fourth-and-8 before Prairie went into its bag of tricks.
Schmidt took a lateral toss from quarterback Beau Schrader, ran right, stopped, and threw it back to Schrader for an 11-yard gain and a first down. Schmidt scored on the first play of the fourth quarter - his third touchdown of the game - to cap the 5:52 drive and added the conversion to stretch the lead to 26-16.
"They came out and they basically shut down our running game and all we did was slow theirs down," Wallace coach Dave Rounds said. "They were having to go four plays to get a first down, and that means we were slowing them down, but they were still getting the first down. They came out in the second half, and we couldn't get the running game going. That's been our bread and butter."
In fact, the Miners went to the air instead of the ground to get on the board in the first quarter. Three plays after Jesse Needles intercepted a Schrader pass and returned it to the Prairie 26-yard line, Gavin Rasmussen hit him with a 26-yard touchdown pass to put Wallace ahead 8-0 midway through the first quarter.
A turnover - and some trickery of its own - set up the second Wallace touchdown in the second quarter. The Miners recovered a fumble at their own 23, but only managed to get 7 yards on the initial series. Rasmussen dropped back into punt formation, took the snap, then took off running to a wide-open left side of the field for 29 yards and a first down to keep the drive going. Two plays later, Kidman Cook put the Miners up 16-6 with a nifty 37-yard touchdown run. The sophomore took a toss right and appeared to be bottled up before picking up a couple blocks, getting away from a pair of defenders and cutting back to the left to break away and score to finish off the six-play, 77-yard drive.
He finished with 47 yards rushing and the score, while Rasmussen led the way offensively with 62 yards passing and 64 yards rushing. Needles had 37 yards receiving and Stephen Heinig added 25.
Schmidt finished with game-high 116 yards on 24 carries while Heath added 62 yards rushing for the Pirates.
Prairie (8-1) advances to the semifinals and gets another shot at league rival Troy, which defeated the Pirates 72-26 last week.
For Wallace, the season ends with an 8-1 mark and the North Star League title, but two games short of its goal of reaching the state title game.
"They just made more plays than we did," Miners senior Derrick Arthun said. "Both defenses were tough, but there's was just a little tougher today."
Still, Rounds said the players have a lot to be proud of, saying afterwards they talked about "the year that we had (and) that we're proud of them, especially the seniors. They worked hard in the offseason, and the young guys are going to have to learn from what these guys did."
Arthun added that it was a special season for Wallace, and that the bar has been set for the underclassmen.
"It was one that will never be forgotten," he said. "Hopefully, they can pick it up where we left off."
Prairie 6 6 6 8 - 26
Wallace 8 8 0 0 - 16
W - Needles 26 pass from Rasmussen (N. Cook run)
P - Schmidt 5 run (run failed)
W - K. Cook 37 run (K. Cook run)
P - Schumacher 2 run (pass failed)
P - Schmidt 5 run (run failed)
P - Schmidt 10 run (Schmidt run)