Round 1: #3 Forreston vs #14 Galena
Cards out last Pirates in rematch to advance to Round 2
Forreston - When week 9 came to a conclusion one of the matchups we could see taking shape was the rematch of Galena and Forreston. The Cardinals came out of that week 5 game with an impressive 52-20 win, but the playoffs bring out a different approach, along with the old adage that the second game is usually tougher. Galena proved that it would be a fight, but it was the Cards moving on to round 2 with a 22-14 win on Friday night.
Things got interesting early, as Forreston kicked off to start the game and a Galena player battling against the wind touched the ball as it was going over his head, and then rolled out of bounds at the 1 yard line. The Pirates couldn't get much going, and an 11 yard punt set up the Cardinals at the Pirates 18 yard line.
Forreston would get a good gain from Devonte King-Black to set the Cards up at the Galena 5 yard line. Just a couple plays later Noah Johnson punched it in from a yard out to put Forreston on the board. Matthew Beltran ran in the 2 point conversion to make it an 8-0 lead with 8:13 to play in the first quarter.
On the ensuing drive, Galena was able to get things going behind a big run by Ethan Hefel for 67 yards to move them into Forreston territory. He would then connect with Calvin Quick for 15 yards, and then later cap off the drive with a 9 yard TD strike to Quick again. Hefel would connect with Brady Schemehorn for the 2 point conversion to tie the game at 8 with 4:33 left to play in the 1st quarter.
The Cardinals would begin their 2nd drive at their own 37 yard line and would get some good runs by Devonte King-Black, Noah Johnson, and Micah Nelson to move the ball deep into Galena territory. Right at the start of the 2nd quarter Jacob Fiorello would dive into the end zone from a yard out. King-Black would get the 2 point conversion to put Forreston back in the lead 16-8 with 11:57 to play.
After forcing the Pirates to punt on their 3rd series of the game, the Cardinals would begin driving down the field from the shadow of their own end zone for what appeared to be a critical drive before the half, if they could capitalize on the momentum and score. Facing a 4th and 1 at the Galena 48 yard line the Pirate defense would hold tough, stopping Forreston at the line of scrimmage as Logan Dyson tried to move the ball on a QB keeper.
Galena would get the ball and move the ball down the field, but would get turned away at the Cardinal 19 yard line to go into the half down 16-8.
Coming out for the 2nd half, Galena was able to force Forreston to punt into the wind. This set up Galena with the ball at their own 40 yard line. Hefel would connect with Quick for 15 yards, and then he would find Schemehorn across the middle for 45 yards as Schemehorn picked up a big block down the right sideline from Jacob Heisler. The 2 point try failed as Hefel tried to connect with Schemehorn again, but Galena closed the deficit to 16-14 with 7:59 to play in the 3rd quarter.
A booming kickoff by Kevin Trinidad soared to the one and out of the end zone for a touchback. A big run by Kaleb Sanders for 27 yards helped propel the Cardinals into Galena territory, and then Jacob Fiorello put on a spectacular sideline tight rope as he kept his feet in bounds and found his way inside the 10 yard line on a 36 yard run. Facing a 4th goal at the 1 yard line, the Pirate defense stopped Forreston dead in their tracks to force the turnover on downs.
The Pirates would work their way away from the end zone, but would be forced to punt as the game moved to the 4th quarter. Both teams would exchange punts in the 4th quarter, but the big break came for Forreston the same way it did on the first series of the game. Punting from their own 18 yard line into the winds whipping to the south, Galena would only get off a 14 yard punt.
Taking over from the Galena 32 yard line the Cardinals would waste little time to get some breathing room. Giving the ball to Johnson, he was able to get some tough yards up the middle before Fiorello scored off the right edge on a 12 yard run to extend Forreston's lead to 22-14. The 2 point conversion try by Beltran failed, which gave some life back to Galena with 6:44 left in the game.
Galena would start their final drive at their own 30 yard line, would pick up some penalty yards, then Hefel would gain 16 yards after being flushed from the pocket by the Forreston rush. A pass attempt to Schemehorn across the middle was just out of reach for him to make the play. Hefel would make a few more pass attempts Heisler and Eaton, but they would fall incomplete as they turned the ball over on downs at the Cardinal 39 yard line.
From there, Forreston was able to chew up the final 4:14 on the clock to preserve the 22-14 win and advance to the 2nd round, where they await the winner of Lena-Winslow and Aurora Christian.
Forreston was led by Jacob Fiorello's 105 yards rushing and 2 TD's. Matthew Beltran chipped in with 74 yards on the ground, while Noah Johnson added 70 yards rushing. Kaleb Sanders (60 yards), Devonte King-Black (49 yards), and Micah Nelson (45 yards) all pitched into the rushing attack as Forreston had 6 different backs run for over 45 yards on their way to 409 yards on the ground.
For the Pirates, Ethan Hefel carried them all night with 108 yards passing and 2 TD's, and picked up 94 yards rushing. He accounted for 202 of the Pirates' 238 yards of offense. Brady Schemehorn picked up 51 yards receiving with a TD, while Calvin Quick added 39 yards receiving and a TD.
The Pirates close out the season with a 5-5 record.
If Lena-Winslow wins, Forreston will play host to the Panthers in the 2nd round. If Aurora Christian wins, the Cardinals will hit the road to play in Aurora.