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Patriots stop Madelia in Section 3 playoffs 46-20

Lead Summary
Dan Ellingson for the Star Herald

The Luverne Cardinals football team finished off their season on Saturday with a loss in the Section 3AAA semifinals to the Fairmont Cardinals. After a scoreless first half, Fairmont erupted for 35 unanswered points to secure a 35-0 victory over the Cardinals.
With the loss, Luverne finished the season with a record of five wins and five losses.
With the Luverne offense struggling to move the ball in the first half, the Cardinals leaned heavily on their defense who came up with multiple big plays to keep Fairmont from scoring.
Gavin Baum was able to intercept Fairmont quarterback Brendan Schmidtke’s third-down pass on the first Fairmont possession of the game. Later in the half, the Cardinals got a key fourth down tackle from sophomore Eli Woodley as Fairmont had moved the ball inside the Luverne red zone for the first time in the game.
Unfortunately for Luverne, the defense could only contain the Fairmont offense for one half.
“We played a good first half, especially on defense. Penalties on offense and special teams really hurt us,” said Luverne football coach Todd Oye. “Fairmont had some big plays on offense in the second half. After their score, it looked like we were going to answer their touchdown with one of our own, but we didn’t capitalize on our opportunity and things went downhill from there.”
Fairmont kicked off the scoring in the game on their first offensive possession of the second half. On first and ten from their own 45-yard line, Fairmont running back Landen Meyerdirk took the handoff from Shmidtke and ran 55 yards into the Luverne end zone. After a successful extra point kick, Fairmont led Luverne 7-0 with 11:44 remaining in the third quarter.
Luverne looked like they were ready to answer back on their next possession. After a 24-yard kickoff return from Baum, the Cardinals took over at their own 33-yard line. After a pair of Fairmont penalties, Luverne executed its longest play of the game when Conner Connell was able to complete a pass to Gannon Ahrendt for 28 yards. The play brought the Cardinals down to the Fairmont 10-yard line, but it was the closest Luverne would get as the drive stalled after a Fairmont sack, a Luverne penalty, and ultimately a Fairmont interception.
Fairmont got back into the end zone later in the quarter when Meyerdirk scored again, this time on a 68-yard pass from Schmidtke. Fairmont connected on the extra-point kick and the score was now 14-0 with 2:59 remaining in the third quarter.
Baum took the Fairmont kickoff 55-yards to give the Cardinals excellent field position, but they were unable to advance from there.
The Fairmont offense kept rolling on their next possession and quickly moved the ball 50 yards down the field and into the Luverne end zone once again when Schmidtke completed a 31-yard touchdown pass to receiver David Maakestad. The Fairmont extra point kick was good and the Fairmont lead was now 21-0 with 17 seconds left in the third quarter.
After another defensive stop, the Fairmont offense got another big play, this time from running back Elijah Johnson. Johnson took the first down handoff and ran 69 yards for another Fairmont touchdown, and with the extra point the lead was 28-0 with 7:43 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Cardinals were able to work the ball down into the Fairmont red zone in their next possession, but on first and ten from the 12-yard line, the Cardinals threw an interception in the end zone which was taken back 100 yards for a Fairmont score by Levi Pooley. After a successful extra point kick, the Fairmont lead was 35-0 with 2:51 remaining in the game.
Neither team scored the remainder of the game, giving Fairmont the 35-0 victory over Luverne.
“It’s always tough to lose the last game,” said Coach Oye. “We had three goals for the season, and they were to get better each week, win the Battle Axe, and get to the section finals. We were able to accomplish two of those three.”
Team statistics:
Luverne: 63 rushing yards, 141 passing yards, 204 total yards, 11 first downs, 8 penalties for 55 yards, 3 turnovers.
Fairmont: 191 rushing yards, 169 passing yards, 360 total yards, 12 first downs, 8 penalties for 75 yards, 1 turnover.
Individual statistics:
Rushing: Kaleb Hein 10-32, Conner Connell 9-10, Marcos Diaz 2-10
Passing: Conner Connell 5-10, 80 yards. Carter Sehr 7-14, 61 yards.
Receiving: Tyson Cowell 6-79, Gannon Ahrendt 1-28, Conner Connell 3-20, Gavin DeBeer 1-14
Defense: Conner Connell 6 tackles, Gavin DeBeer 5 tackles, Gavin Baum 4.5 tackles, Tyler Gerbauer 3.5 tackles, Tyson Cowell 3 tackles, Elijah Woodley 3 tackles

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