Noah Thompson, a 2,000-yard rusher from Underwood, left Thursday’s nine-man state semifinal game against Ely with eight minutes to play. At the time, Underwood held a seven-point lead and the outcome was up for grabs.
Having Thompson watching from the Metrodome sidelines was not optimal for the Rockets. He had carried the ball 239 times this season for 2,107 yards and 20 touchdowns. When he left Thursday’s game with an injury, he had rushed 31 times for 188 yards and three touchdowns.
The good news for Underwood: The Rockets went on to a 34-20 victory and their first berth in the Prep Bowl.
Thompson was hurt while playing defense; the helmet of Ely’s Mark Heiman slammed into his left bicep. The result was a bruise, a painful bruise.
“It hurt right away,” Thompson said. But a little pain is nothing new for the 5-foot-7, 157-pound junior. When I inquired if he had ever been injured before, he ran down the list.
--He broke his right thumb six weeks ago but didn’t miss any games while playing with a cast on his hand.
--He suffered a left knee injury early in the season.
--He injured his back playing softball last summer. “It still hurts,” he said.
More good news for the Rockets (10-3): They won’t play in the Prep Bowl for more than two weeks, which should give Thompson time to heal. They will meet the winner of Friday’s game between Kittson Country Central (12-0) and Grand Meadow (11-1) on Nov. 29.
Thompson isn’t the Rockets’ only weapon. Quarterback Adam Creek ran 15 times for 129 yards and Matt Biegler and Dylan Kalenze both ran for touchdowns. Kalenze’s score, a 13-yard burst, sealed the victory with 54 seconds left in the game.
Louis Gerzin led Ely (12-1) with 25 carries for 170 yards and a score, and quarterback Sean Jordan completed 10 of 15 passes for 99 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown strike to Michael Lah. Mark Heiman scored a rushing TD for the Timberwolves.
A HAPPY METRODOME REUNION
At the state football semifinals a year ago, I was walking behind one of the Metrodome end zones when someone in the bleachers hollered, “Hi John!” I looked up at a young man sitting in the second row and said, “Do I know you?” He smiled a big smile and said, “No, but I read your journal.”
It was Austin Buysse, who was then a junior at Minneota. The Vikings’ 2012 season had ended with a loss to Dawson-Boyd in the Class 1A Section 5 championship game.
We had a reunion on Thursday, and this time Austin (pictured) wasn’t sitting in the stands. The 6-foot-4, 175-pound senior threw two touchdown passes and ran for a score as Minneota/Lincoln HI (13-0) defeated Maple Lake (8-5) 50-24 in the Class 2A semifinals.
Austin said that as he watched the games a year ago, he was hoping the Vikings would be on the field this season.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “I’ve been coming to the games here every year in high school, and to finally play here is like a dream come true.”
Footnote: Austin is one of five people named Buysse on the Minneota roster. Brock, Leo and student manager Brant are his first cousins, and Joe is a more distant cousin. Brock Buysse had a touchdown run Thursday and Leo had six tackles.
HUTCHINSON RETURNS TO PREP BOWL
Hutchinson defeated Delano 35-9 in the Class 4A semifinals, as the Tigers (12-0) attempt to repeat as state champions. The game was close into the third quarter, after a safety brought Delano (10-2) within 21-9 of Hutchinson. But Hutchinson scored two touchdowns in the fourt quarter to lock up the victory.
Hutch quarterback Marcus Hahn was the game’s leading rusher, carrying six times for 121 yards and two touchdowns, including an 80-yarder. He also threw a 13-yard TD pass to Jake Wendland.
ROSEMOUNT OUTLASTS ROSEVILLE
In an entertaining, back-and-forth 6A semifinal, Rosemount (11-1) recorded a 35-28 victory over Roseville (9-3). The victory was the 11th in a row for the Irish, who lost to Wayzata in double overtime in the season opener.
Dimitri Williams led Rosemount with 15 rushes for 135 yards, plus a 77-yard punt return for a touchdown. Roseville quarterback Jacques Perra completed 22 of 34 passes for 296 yards and three touchdowns.
Nine-man/ Underwood 34, Ely 20
Class 2A/ Minneota/Lincoln HI 50, Maple Lake 24
Class 4A/ Hutchinson 35, Delano 9
Class 6A/ Rosemount 35, Roseville 28
9 a.m.: Nine-man/ Kittson Central (12-0) vs. Grand Meadow (11-1)
11:30 a.m.: Class 2A/ Hawley (10-1) vs. Chatfield (11-1)
2 p.m.: Class 5A/ St. Michael-Albertville (10-1) vs. Owatonna (11-0)
4:30 p.m.: Class 4A/ DeLaSalle (10-1) vs. Holy Angels (6-5)
7 p.m.: Class 6A/ Eden Prairie (10-0) vs. Totino-Grace (9-2)
9 a.m.: Class 1A/ Dawson-Boyd (11-1) vs. Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s (12-0)
11:30 a.m.: Class 1A/ Mahnomen (12-0) vs. Bethlehem Academy (9-3)
2 p.m.: Class 3A/ Proctor (9-2) vs. St. Croix Lutheran (9-2)
4:30 p.m.: Class 3A/ New London-Spicer (9-2) vs. Rochester Lourdes (10-1)
7 p.m.: Class 5A/ Brainerd (11-0) vs. Chaska (11-0)
--Diet Coke Count: 4 for the day, 4 for the state football tournament, 26 for the fall state tournaments.
BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited:165
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 5,116
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn