FARGO — For another year, Minnesota Class 2A, Section 8 football belongs to Barnesville. The Trojans won their third straight section title 34-23, beating rival Hawley in the title game for the third straight season.
It was fitting that quarterback Adam Tonsfeldt put the finishing touches on the game, streaking for a 37-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter to push the lead to two scores.
Tonsfeldt couldn't play quarterback for the first six weeks due to injury, but played on defense three of those weeks he was hurt.
"He's just such a tough kid," Barnesville coach Bryan Strand said. "He's been starting point guard since eighth grade, he sees everything so well, and nothing ever gets above what his capabilities are. If you looked at his feet, they were always under him."
His feet seemed to be all over the Fargodome on Friday, as he rushed for 142 yards and two touchdowns against No. 5-ranked Hawley (9-2).
"I was injured at the beginning of the season, it was rough," Tonsfeldt said. "Our team has been incredible. We had two tough losses right in the middle of the season, both by one point. Just a few plays changes things and we told ourselves we're going to keep working and we're going to fix those little mistakes and every moment matters."
Hawley struck first on its opening possession. The Nuggets used six plays to go 43 yards and find the end zone, converting a third-and-7 along the way with Jacob Vetter finding Chase Libak for 8 yards. Vetter called his own number for a 1-yard plunge to get the Nuggets a 7-0 lead.
Barnesville (9-2) fumbled on the ensuing possession, but Aaron Schiefert grabbed the ball back with an interception that set the Trojans up at the Hawley 30. Nine plays later, Preston Snobl was running in the end zone from 5 yards out. Tonsfeldt ran in the two-point conversion to put the Trojans up 8-7.
Karter Kopacek pounced on a Barnesville fumble early in the second quarter to put Hawley at their own 48. A 33-yard pass from Vetter to Trayton Cossette, a 9-yard run from Cossette and a 9-yard touchdown pass from Vetter to Libak put Hawley back up 14-8.
Barnesville answered again, marching 67 yards on eight plays, including a 60-yard pass from Tonsfeldt to Chase Brenner on third-and-20, to take back the lead. Snobl punched it in from 2 yards out and Tonsfeldt added another 2-point conversion to give the Trojans a 16-14 lead with 2 minutes, 42 seconds remaining in the first half.
"They have such a great senior class and for our kids to come out here, after losing to them by one this season, it's incredible," Strand said. "To see them come out here and do what they did here tonight makes me proud to be their coach."
Hawley went three-and-out on the next possession and Barnesville used three plays to go 58 yards for another touchdown. Brenner had a run for 32 yards, Nick Detloff ran for 11 yards and Snobl put the finishing touches on the drive with a 15-yard touchdown run to give Barnesville a 22-14 lead at halftime.
"They just blocked better than we tackled and played defense. They outplayed us," Hawley coach Peder Naatz said. "We looked like we didn't know what we were doing once in a while. You can't have that this time of the year. I'm taking this loss as my own. There's nothing that the kids could've done."
Mason Klevgaard drilled a 23-yard field goal on Hawley's opening possession of the first half to cut the Barnesville lead to 22-17.
Barnesville had another answer, using four plays to go 57 yards for a touchdown. Tonsfeldt capped the drive jumping over the pile and scampering 28 yards for a touchdown to put the Trojans back up 28-17.
"He's so tough," Strand said. "He read the right things, he changed speed when he needed to. I couldn't be prouder of all of them. The line blocked outstanding all night. When they tried to crowd the holes out there, they got to who they were supposed to get to. "
Hawley got some luck late in the third when Vetter threw up a pass he had no business throwing. It tipped off the hands of Barnesville's Kellen Hinsz and into the hands of Noah Glad for a 30-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 28-23.
Hawley faked a punt from their own 37 with 6:25 to go, but Vetter's pass fell incomplete. Tonsfeldt took it to the house on the next play to put Hawley away.
"It's unlike anything else," Tonsfeldt said. "Just the physicality of the game, the intensity, it's unlike anything you could ever experience.