KEARNEY — St. Paul coach Rusty Fuller has been around enough football to know that defense and line play will keep you in plenty of games and give you a chance.
On Friday, his Wildcats put on a show against Class C-1 No. 2-ranked Kearney Catholic in a 33-7 win at Miles Field as they racked up 373 yards rushing and held the Stars to 18 on 25 carries.
“Our defense did a heck of a job containing (KC quarterback Heinrich) Haarberg. He’s such a talented player,” Fuller said. “To hold them to seven points was a great job by our defense.
“Then offensively after halftime, we got our lineman going and they just made some outstanding blocks on the perimeter.”
The Wildcats led 14-0 at the break, but Kearney Catholic seized the early third-quarter momentum.
Haarberg led a 9-play, 82-yard drive that was capped by Logan O’Brien’s tiptoe catch in the back corner of the end zone that cut the lead to 14-7.
But it was as close as the Stars could get as St. Paul controlled the line of scrimmage the whole second half. The Wildcats got full control when Eli Larson ripped off touchdown runs of 50 and 67 yards in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter.
Kearney Catholic coach Rashawn Harvey was frustrated by his team’s early miscues.
“It felt like we left 21 points on the board on the first three drives just because of dropped balls,” Harvey said. “That’s part of our challenge right now is catching balls and establishing the run.”
The game was still scoreless with three minutes left in the first half when it flipped.
Wildcat quarterback Brendan Knapp connected with Tommy Wroblewski for a 42-yard pass and then on KC’s next play from scrimmage, Quade Peterson tipped a pass that Logan Vogel intercepted. That set up Larson’s first score from three yards out.
Larson gave credit to a line that was fresh throughout.
“We wanted to rotate our guys in and be fresh in the third and fourth quarter and it worked tonight,” he said. “Our line did a heck of a job all night.”
Trevor Dugan added 68 rushing yards for St. Paul and Wroblewski 73 yards receiving. Haarberg was 17-for-43 for 238 yards to lead KC. O’Brien had 74 yards on five catches and Brett Mahony had 80 yards on four receptions.
St. Paul (2-1) 0 14 0 19—33
Kearney Catholic (2-1) 0 0 7 0—7
SP — Tommy Wroblewski 42 pass from Brendan Knapp (Sam Kramer kick), 2:49
SP — Eli Larson 3 run (Kramer kick), 1:09
KC — Logan O’Brien 17 pass from Heinrich Haarberg (Spencer Hogeland kick), 7:00
SP — Eli Larson 50 run (kick failed), 10:56
SP — Eli Larson 67 run (pass failed), 10:18
SP — Aidan John 33 run (Kramer kick), 1:47
First downs 13 13
Rushes-yards 38-373 25-18
Passing yards 105 238
Comp-Att-Int 6-11-0 17-43-1
Punts-avg. 6-29.3 6-34.8
Return Yards 50 17
Fumbles-lost 2-2 1-0
Penalties-yards 10-80 6-41
RUSHING—SP, Dugan 9-68, Larson 20-266, Wroblewski 2-6, Knapp 4-5, Placke 1-4, Gravatt 1-1, John 1-33. KC, Conrad 11-25, Miner 4-4, Haarberg 6-(minus 20), O’Brien 1-(minus 7), Greiser 3-16.
PASSING—SP, Knapp 5-10-88-0, Wroblewski 1-1-17-0. KC, Haarberg 17-43-238-1.