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Fairmont defeats Annandale in 3A semifinals
Posted by Guest (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/18/2011 8:02:26 PM

By Luke Sleeper
Turnovers and penalties were the story in Friday’s 3A state semifinal football game between Fairmont and Annandale, which ended in a 21-9 victory for Fairmont at the Metrodome.

After three quick punts from both teams, a defensive touchdown by Fairmont got the scoring going. Halfway through the first quarter, Annandale quarterback John Kalthoff attempted a bubble pass that found the unlikely hands of Fairmount defensive end Justin Barnes, who returned the interception 60 yards for the score. It was the first of four interceptions by the Fairmount defense on the night.

Friday’s matchup was very much a defensive battle, as both offenses struggled taking care of the ball. The two tough defenses combined for eight sacks, six interceptions and eight forced fumbles to go along with a bevy of penalties called on each team.

Fairmont coach Mat Mahoney was thankful his team survived the craziness.

“It was like an emotional roller coaster out there with lots of adversity,” he said. “I am just glad our guys were able to keep their poise and stay with it.”

Mahoney also pointed to his senior quarterback, Ben Kain, as an instrumental part of their success. Kain spent much of the game fleeing from the Annandale pass rush. Numerous times, Kain was able to scramble just long enough to find open receivers downfield, including a key 33-yard pass to Aaron Schultz on third down to extend their second touchdown drive of the first half.

Schultz was the leading receiver for Fairmont (10-1), catching seven balls for 104 yards before being ejected for throwing a punch near the end of the third quarter. By Minnesota State High School League rule, Schultz will have to also sit out next week’s Prep Bowl game against the winner of Saturday’s game between Providence Academy and St. Croix Lutheran. Mahoney said Fairmont will attempt an appeal process.

Annandale’s first points of the night came on a safety after Kain fumbled in his own end zone. The score remained 14-2 into the fourth quarter until Fairmont returned another interception for a touchdown. This time Ryan Noll was the culprit, returning the pick for 22 yards and wrapping up the victory for Fairmont.

Annandale (7-5) did find the end zone late, on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Kalthoff to Dylan Nelson. That made the score 21-9, which ultimately became the final.

The starting running backs from both teams had solid performances. Annandale’s Nick Anderson rushed for 116 yards on 20 carries, while Fairmont bruiser Brandon Martin powered his way to 94 yards and a touchdown. Kain completed 16 of 25 passes for 192 yards.

Next week’s game will be Fairmont’s first appearance in the Prep Bowl.

--Luke Sleeper is a journalism student at the University of Minnesota


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