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Prep Sports

Dakota run defense, MA mistakes end Crusaders' season

DAKOTA — It is said that revenge is a dish best served cold.

If true, it could not have been a chillier day for the Marquette Crusaders than the one experienced here on Saturday afternoon.

The Dakota Indians, led by a coaching staff and a senior class that remembered all too well a close 26-20, IHSA playoff loss to Marquette back in 2016, managed to do what no opponent had been able to do against head coach Tom Jobst's charges all season: stop their ground game.

With a little help from the Cru's most mistake-prone effort of the season, the hosts limited an MA club averaging 339.4 rush yards per game to a mere 94. Though quarterback Logan Komater picked up the offense somewhat through the air, just as he did in that matchup two years ago, it wasn't enough to keep the Indians from grinding out an avenging 14-12, Class 1A second-round victory over Marquette.

Each time the Indians scored, in the first and fourth quarters, the Cru answered with a touchdown of their own, the latter time with 6 minutes, 10 seconds left. However, the Indians notched four first downs on the ensuing possession to literally run out the remainder of the game behind junior quarterback Josh Clark, the game's leading rusher with 75 yards on 23 carries.

Marquette's Jack Snook, who came in averaging 118 yards a contest through 10 weeks, was held to just 11 yards on seven attempts. Preston Aukland had 10 carries for 40 yards and Evan Green five for 29 for MA's struggling ground game, which was hampered early by several of the team's six penalties for 60 yards.

Komater connected on 8 of 14 passes for 161 yards, 65 of those on three connections with Snook, but he did throw only his second interception of the year and that, coupled with a lost fumble in the second period, doubled MA's turnovers for the entire season.

"The first half was not a good half of football. Our second half was much better, but what can you say? Dakota did a nice job," said Jobst, whose program will lose to graduation 13 of its 38 players, nearly all of them starters. "They executed very well. They were top-notch today, so credit them. I know they had one fumble, but other than that I can't think of a single mistake they made. They were pretty much flawless, and that's what it would have taken on our part to win this game, the way they were playing.

"These kids have had a great season, the seniors have had a great career. I couldn't have asked for more that what they gave to Marquette Academy, and I'm going to miss them all very much."

It was evident on MA's first series that Dakota came loaded for bear, forcing a three-and-out before putting up a 14-play, 54-yard drive to the game's first score, a 2-yard run by Tyler Engelbrecht. Nolan Lentz kicked the PAT for a 7-0 edge.

Marquette bounced back despite having its run game slowed, but Komater made Dakota pay for its 11-in-the-box defense by lobbing a perfect strike to Shane Reynolds for a 48-yard touchdown. Green's PAT kick went wide right, and that would be all the scoring for the next two periods, thanks in part to Jack Durdan's recovery of a DHS fumble and MA's two turnovers and two crucial penalties in the second stanza.

Finally, in the fourth quarter, a key 11-yard run by Aden Cassidy (17 carries, 51 yards) on third-and-11 kept alive a drive leading to a 3-yard TD run by Clark that, with another Lentz kick, made it 14-6.

Again the Crusaders rebounded, using Komater passes of 30 and 24 yards to Snook and a 17-yarder to Kent to set up a 1-yard dive by Aukland. Forced to go for a two-point conversion, MA tried to get tricky and had Komater in motion run through the flat to the end zone while Snook took the direct snap and rolled left. Before he could run or launch a pass, he was run down from behind by Engelbrecht to preserve Dakota's slim lead.

"It was a play we've worked on in practice, a fun play, and it was something that we thought we could catch them with," Jobst said. "It was going to be hard to run it in, so we thought we'd try it. It didn't work. Their kid made a nice play on it."

"It just shows how football savvy our seniors are," said Dakota coach Joe Free, "when Marquette tried to pull some funny business at the end there. Everyone on the sideline was freaking out saying there were 12 (players) in the huddle, but the kids didn't panic, didn't flinch on defense, and leave it to Trey to make the play doing it the exact way we teach them to react to any run-pass option."

From there it was all the Indians running game, as Clark, Engelbrecht and Cassidy converted third downs to run out the clock. Though MA posted 255 total yards and surrendered just 211 thanks to Kent with 17 total tackles (10 solo, 1 sack), Snook 13 (6 solo) and Aukland 11 (3 solo), it lost the time of possession battle, 29:14 to 18:46.

"I made a little hype video at the beginning of the week, and the first clip from that was a shot of the scoreboard from two years ago," Free said. "I told the seniors, 'You've played them. You left it out there for them. Go get your revenge.' Not many times do you get a chance like that. You have to be ready to roll, and we were. Every senior made a play today that influenced this win."

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At Dakota

Dakota 14, Marquette 12

Marquette (10-1) 6 0 0 6 — 12

Dakota (8-3) 7 0 0 7 — 14

Scoring summary

First quarter

D — Engelbrecht 2 run (Lentz kick), 2:59, 7-0.

M — S. Reynolds 48 pass from Komater (kick failed), 0:03.0, 7-6.

Fourth quarter

D — Clark 3 run (Lentz kick), 9:06, 14-6.

M — Aukland 1 run (run failed), 6:10, 14-12.

Team statistics

MA DA

First downs 13 14

Rushes-Yards 28-94 50-175

Passing yards 161 36

Total offense 255 211

Comp-Att-Int. 8-14-1 5-5-0

Fumbles-Lost 4-1 4-0

Penalties-Yards 6-60 3-20

Time of possession 18:46 29:14   

Individual statistics

RUSHING: Marquette – Aukland 10-40, Green 5-29, Komater 5-13, Snook 7-11, M. Donahue 1-1. Dakota – Clark 23-75, Cassidy 17-51, Kloster 2-26, Engelbrecht 7-25,Riggle 1-(-2) .

PASSING (C-A-TD-INT-YD): Marquette – Komater 8-14-1-1-161. Dakota – Clark 5-5-0-0-36.

RECEIVING: Marquette – Snook 3-65, Kent 3-49, S. Reynolds 2-47. Dakota – Cassidy 2-15, Engelbrecht 2-4, Rockey 1-11, Drake 1-6.

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