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Barnesville battles through weather to hold off late Eden Valley-Watkins rally in Class AA football quarterfinals

Barnesville controlled the clock from start to finish to earn a spot in the Class AA semifinals for the third consecutive season

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Barnesville walks onto the field after defeating Eden Valley-Watkins in their Minnesota Class AA quarterfinal football game Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, in Alexandria. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Forum Communications Co.

ALEXANDRIA, Minn. — Barnesville overcame the elements and weathered a late comeback attempt to churn out a 34-20 win over Eden Valley-Watkins in the Minnesota Class AA state quarterfinals on Thursday at Alexandria Area High School.

Neither a biting wind or swirling snow could slow down Barnesville's offense.

"Our kids played really well, considering the conditions that were out there," Trojans head coach Bryan Strand said. "I thought we ran the ball very, very well. We only had one turnover and that was towards the end. We just kind of controlled the clock. We ate up time after time after time."

Barnesville controlled the clock from start to finish to earn a spot in the Class AA semifinals for the third consecutive season. The Trojans will play Section 1 champion Chatfield (11-1) at 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18, at U.S. Bank Stadium.

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Barnesville's Cameron Heng makes a 75-yard touchdown run against Eden Valley-Watkins during their Minnesota Class AA quarterfinal football game Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, in Alexandria. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Forum Communications Co.

Barnesville improved to 9-2 on the year with the quarterfinal win. The Eagles finished the season with an identical record.

Despite a RealFeel temperature of 25 degrees at kickoff, Barnesville came out hot. After forcing the Eagles to go three-and-out in the game's opening drive, Barnesville marched down the field in its first possession and into the red zone with ease. The Trojans got inside the 5-yard line, but turned it over on downs after the Eagles had a pair of big stops.

Braeden Bredman recovered an Eagles fumble in the ensuing drive. Quarterback Noah Krause hit Kaden Zenzen for a 5-yard score halfway through the second quarter to open the scoring for Barnesville.

EVW found the end zone for six points in the frame. The Trojans stretched their narrow two-point lead late in the second half when Krause powered his way into the end zone from a few yards out with two seconds left in the quarter. The Trojans drove more than 50 yards down the field in a quick two-minute drive that put them on the board once more before halftime.

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Barnesville's Noah Krause carries against Eden Valley-Watkins during their Minnesota Class AA quarterfinal football game Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, in Alexandria. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Forum Communications Co.

"It was windy, snowy, but the kids overcame it," Strand said. "They didn't act like they were freezing. They really just played so well. We put a lot of time into it during the week and it showed tonight. The kids were very prepared."

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Barnesville carried that momentum into the third quarter. Cameron Heng delivered the first punch of the second half, as he sprinted 14 yards for a touchdown and ran in the 2-point conversion. Zenzen hauled in a 34-yard touchdown reception from Krause that gave the Trojans a comfortable 28-6 lead entering the fourth quarter.

The Eagles closed the gap to eight points on touchdown runs by Landon Neiman and Samuel Nistler of 2 and 3 yards. The Eagles, down by 22, made it a one-possession game at 28-20 with less than five minutes remaining.

Barnesville had the final answer. Less than two minutes later, Krause hit Heng for his third passing touchdown of the night that sealed the game.

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Barnesville's Peyton Pauna takes down Eden Valley-Watkins’ Caden Neiman with backup from Jonathan Robideau during their Minnesota Class AA quarterfinal football game Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, in Alexandria. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Forum Communications Co.

“They were gonna bring everybody up thinking that we were just going to run, and we hit a very nice pass to go up," Strand said. “The kids played hard and smart tonight."

“When they scored, they had to work for it," Strand added on the Eagles.

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Barnesville's Cameron Heng runs back an Eden Valley-Watkins interception during their Minnesota Class AA quarterfinal football game Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, in Alexandria. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Forum Communications Co.

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Barnesville's John Roller, right, forces back Eden Valley-Watkins’ Gavin Mathies to make room for Braeden Bredman to score a two-point conversion during their Minnesota Class AA quarterfinal football game Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, in Alexandria. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Forum Communications Co.

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