Minnesota high school football playoffs: Verndale prevails in OT

WHEATON, Minn. -- Nearly lost in Verndale's 248 rushing yards and Wheaton's incredible second-half comeback Friday night was Pirates tight end Wyatt Carr.

WHEATON, Minn. -- Nearly lost in Verndale's 248 rushing yards and Wheaton's incredible second-half comeback Friday night was Pirates tight end Wyatt Carr.

Though he caught a pass earlier in the game for Verndale, Carr spent most of the night blocking. Carr, however, made the biggest play of Verndale's season in overtime of the Minnesota 9-man football quarterfinal playoff game.

And he even called it himself.

Carr caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Cory Umland in overtime to lift the No. 1-ranked and defending state champs Verndale to a 22-16 overtime victory over Wheaton on a still but frigid night.

Verndale (12-0) will play undefeated Stephen-Argyle Central next Friday in the semifinals at the Metrodome.


Carr's grab in the front corner of the end zone thwarted Wheaton's rally and caused the Verndale faithful to storm the field in celebration. On the second timeout before the play, Carr suggested he would be open on play action. At the last second, a sweep was nixed for a pass.

"The corner was coming up for the run," said Carr, playing on the right side. "I thought I could beat him to the corner. I delayed for a count."

Verndale took a 16-0 first-half advantage on Tyler Fuller's touchdown runs of 71 and 4 yards. Wheaton, meanwhile, turned the ball over three times in the first half.

"They were very tentative," Wheaton coach Tony Thiel said of his players. "We just told the kids we can't keep turning the ball over. Play like you were told to play the game."

Wheaton (9-3) did just that.

On the first possession of the second half, Wheaton drove 77 yards on 15 plays for a touchdown. Cody Rinke, who carried only once in the first half, toted the ball eight times on the drive and capped it with a 13-yard touchdown run.

"I promised myself I wouldn't let them (the seniors) leave like that," said Rinke, who led the Warriors with 79 rushing yards on 19 carries.

Quarterback Eathan Armstrong grabbed a loose ball on the two-point conversion and, falling out of bounds under pressure, tossed a pass to Bennett Barker in the end zone to pull the Warriors within 16-8 and invigorate the Wheaton sideline.


"We found out we could play with them after we scored the first touchdown," Thiel said.

Wheaton stopped the Pirates on downs at its own 36, and then marched 64 yards for another touchdown to pull within 16-14. The Warriors converted two fourth downs and survived three illegal procedure penalties before Aaron Wohlenhaus hauled in a 23-yard touchdown pass to cap the drive. Sean O'Neill caught the two-point conversion to tie the score a 16 apiece.

"They (the Warriors) are a team that usually folds when they're down like that," Umland said of Wheaton, which fell to Verndale 37-14 earlier in the year. "They've changed a lot since we played them."

Verndale stopped the Warriors on four plays to open overtime. Then, on third down with the ball on the six, Carr caught the game winner.

"I thought we outplayed them," Verndale coach Michael Mahlen said. "We deserved to win the game. They got a couple of calls in the second half.

Verndale's Tyler Fisher rushed for 101 yards on 21 carries. Fuller finished with 80 yards and Umland rushed for 67 and passed for another 45.

Verndale 8 8 8 0 0 6-- 22

Wheaton 0 0 0 8 8 0-- 16


V--Fuller 71 run (Fisher run)

V--Fuller 4 run (Umland run)

W--Rinke 13 run (Barker pass from Armstrong)

W--Wohlenhaus 23 pass from Armstrong (O'Neill pass from Armstrong)

V--Carr 6 pass from Umland


RUSHING: V, Fisher 21-101, Fuller 7-80, Umland 20-67, Kempe 1-(-1). W, Rinke 19-79, Barker 10-50, Umland 11-45, Smith 10-37.

PASSING: V, Umland 4-11-0 45 yards. W, Armstrong 2-6-1 33, Wohlenhaus 0-1-0.


RECEIVING: Carr 2-18, Bramer 1-15, Fisher 1-12. W, Wohlenhaus 2-33.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tim Salwei at (701) 241-5549

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