Comeback thriller

Ryan Pitts/The Caledonia Argus  The Warriors defense stiffened as the game went on.
Ryan Pitts/The Caledonia Argus
The Warriors defense stiffened as the game went on.

By Ryan Pitts

The Caledonia Argus

The price of admittance for Friday night’s Caledonia versus Triton match up was worth every penny for spectators. In front of the large Triton crowd and a large number of traveling Caledonians, the highly anticipated match up ended with a 34-27 Caledonia comeback victory.

A strong opening kick return by Sam Barthel gave the Warriors good field position at midfield. The Warriors then went to work with their balanced offensive attack, a few strong runs by Mason Staggemeyer and some nice throws by Owen King put the Cobras on their heels early. King then hit Jordan Burg right up the middle for a 24-yard touchdown pass. The PAT by Riley Cordes was good and the Warriors took a 7-0 lead just minutes into the game.

The Triton Cobras wasted no time in throwing a punch back.  After the kick-off, Triton’s quarterback Brady Essig hit wide receiver Hunter Jennings for a 25-yard gain.  A few nice runs put Caledonia on their heels but a good defensive stand forced them to try a field goal. Triton then caught Caledonia off guard on the field goal with a fake and ran the ball in from the nine-yard line. A missed PAT left the Warriors with a 7-6 lead.

Some incomplete passes and a turnover on downs forced the Warriors to give the Cobras the ball back. The remaining of the first quarter was Triton’s offense slowly pushing the Warriors back. Just three plays into the second quarter, Triton’s QB Brady Essig kept it himself for a 13-yard run to put the Warriors down 7-13. The remaining off the first half was a boxing match, both teams trading punches back and forth and the half time score remained, 7-13.

Opening the second half, Triton came out swinging and swinging hard. After the kick return, Essig hit another receiver for a 54-yard bomb. Two plays later, Triton struck again from 2 yards out to put the Warriors down 7-20.  A turnover on the next series gave Triton the ball right back. Sixty yards later and another touchdown put the Cobra’s ahead 7-27 with seven minutes to go in the third quarter.

Sam Barthel once again gave the Warriors great field position with a 66-yard kickoff return. Owen King and the Warrior offense went right to work. King hit Andrew Goergen just three plays later from 26 yards out to make the score 13-27. Triton then marched right back down the field but was halted at the 39-yard line, a missed field goal gave the Warriors the ball back. A punt by both teams rounded out the third quarter.

On their own 11-yard line to start the fourth, King hit Barthel in the middle of the field for a 39-yard gain. A few more strikes down field put the Warriors on Triton’s 14 yard line, King rolled out of the pocket and found Goergen for the second time. Caledonia put themselves right back in the game, down 20-27 with just under 10 minutes to go in the game.

A three and out by Triton gave the Warriors the ball back once again with a long field in front of them. Starting at their own 12, King hit Barthel and Burg for two long passes down-field. On a third and eight, King found Marten Morem wide open along our sideline and 43 yards later, the Warriors tied the ball game up at 27-27 with seven minutes to go.

With plenty of time to play, Triton fumbled the ball back over to the Warriors with good field position but that drive was stopped short by a King interception. Triton then punted the ball back to the Warriors but they couldn’t capitalize. At midfield, Morem punted the ball back to Triton and pinned them on their own five-yard line.  Trying to get the ball out of their own end zone, a Cobra running back fumbled the ball and the Warriors recovered it on the 15-yard line with 1:41 to play.

On a third and goal, King hit Goergen from 13 yards out with 50 seconds to go. A good PAT put the Warriors ahead, 34-27. Triton aired it out trying to tie the score back up but the last play of the game was intercepted by Jordan Burg. Players stormed the field to celebrate their exciting victory.

Owen King was 18-43 passing for 287 yards and five passing touchdowns.  Andrew Goergen caught three of those touchdowns and had just four receptions for 63 yards. Jordan Burg had 6 receptions for 90 yards and one touchdown.  Marten Morem had three catches for 64 yards and one touchdown.  Sam Barthel also had three catches for 56 yards. Austin Heim had two catches for 14 yards.

Mason Staggemeyer rushed eight times for 73 yards. Nick McCabe rushed five times for 38 yards and Owen King had two rushes for 8 yards.

Mason Staggemeyer was an absolute monster defensively, recording 14 solo tackles. Tate Meiners followed with 9. Austin Heim, Nick McCabe, and Brent Robley followed, each recording 8 solo tackles. Jordan Burg had one interception and David Seymour and Ryan Wagner each recorded a sack.

Riley Cordes was 4 of 5 for points after touchdowns.

Comparison:

Triton had 20 first downs compared to Caledonia’s 15.

Triton had 176 rushing yards compared to Caledonia’s 119.

Caledonia had 287 passing yards compared to Triton’s 225.

Caledonia had 406 yards of total offense compared to Triton’s 401 yards.

Time of possession: Triton: 32:01, Caledonia: 15:59

Homecoming game

The Warriors will host Zumbrota-Mazeppa for their Homecoming game on Friday, Sept. 15.