Barnesville fell behind 15-6 at halftime in their Class AA State Semifinal matchup with Jackson County Central on Friday morning at US Bank Stadium, however, the Trojans battled back to take a 22-15 lead after three quarters and went on to eliminate the Huskies from the AA playoffs with a 38-23 victory. Barnesville will attempt to successfully defend the Class AA title next Friday at 1:00pm at US Bank Stadium. They will face Eden Valley-Watkins for the AA title.
The Huskies struck first when Seth Stai scored on a 3 yard run to cap a 15 play, 58 yard scoring drive. Jack Sadusky added the extra point kick for a 7-0 JCC lead.
Barnesville got on the board with 7:57 remaining in the opening half when Cameron Halverson carried the ball into the end zone from 25 yards out, trimming the Huskies lead to 7-6.
Jackson County Central increased their lead to 15-6 on a 5 yard run by Stai with 50 seconds left in the second quarter, and a successful two point conversion run, also by Stai.
The Trojans scored on a 13 yard TD pass from Zach Bredman to Gannon Bolgrean and added a 2-point run by Halverson to pull to within a point at 15-14 with 8:16 on the third quarter clock. With 4:24 left in the third, Halverson carried the ball in on a 4th and 14 from the JCC 14 yard line and the Trojans had their first lead of the day at 20-15. Peyton Amundson scored the two-point conversion for a 22-15 advantage for the defending AA State Champs.
In the fourth quarter, Barnesville increased their lead to 30-15 when they went 85 yards in 12 plays, covering seven-minutes-21-seconds, scoring on a 24 yard run by Major Ness and a two-point run by Bredman. On the first play of the next possession, Bolgrean intercepted a pass at the Barnesville 40 yard line. A 30 yard run by Halverson and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against JCC put the ball on the Jackson County Central 12 yard line. From there, Barnesville took the ball in on an 18 yard pass from Bredman to Ness and added the two-point conversion on a Halverson run to take a commanding 38-15 lead with 3:45 remaining in the game. The Huskies responded with an 11 play, 65 yard scoring drive, culminated by a two yard TD run on 4th down by Stai with 54 seconds left in the game, his third touchdown of the day. He also ran the two-point conversion in to put the score at 38-23. Following a successful onside kick, Barnesville kept JCC from adding to their total, claiming the victory.
Barnesville’s offensive attack featured 241 rushing yards and 118 passing yards for a total of 359 yards. The Trojans were 8-for-14 on 3rd down conversion attempts and were successful on both of their fourth down tries. They registered 19 first downs on the day and had only one turnover. Bolgrean (14 carries, 80 yards) and Halverson (10 carries, 79 yards, 2 TD’s) led the ground attack, and Bredman completed 8-of-15 passes for 118 yards and a pair of scores. Ness was the leading receiver with 3 catches for 80 yards.
Defensively, the Trojans held JCC to 249 yards (155 rushing, 94 passing) and 14 first downs. They also forced 3 fumbles and an interception. Collin Morey (8 tackles, 7 solo), Levi Eickenbrock (6 tackles, 5 solo, Fumble Recovery), Jay Tschumperlin (6 tackles, 3 solo) and Peyton Amundson (5 solo tackles, 2 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery). Bolgrean had a fumble recovery to go along with his interception and added 4 solo tackles.
Leaders for Jackson County Central were Stai (17 carries, 74 yards), Roman Voss (14 carries, 59 yards), Brenan Runge (6 completions, 16 attempts, 79 yards) and Ben Dahlin (5 catches, 51 yards). Defensively, Ian Titterington led with 12 tackles, 9 of them solo, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Stai added 9 tackles, 7 of which were solo, and Clay Malchow had 7 total tackles, 4 of them solo.
“To say I am proud of these boys would be an understatement,” said Barnesville Head Coach Bryan Strand. “The amount of time they have put in this past week in film study and practices is amazing. I am blessed to have one of the best coaching staffs in the area and they had the boys dialed in. We are back in the state title game for the 3rd time since 2018 and we couldn't be any happier. They know what it will take to come out on top and I think they are ready for the challenge. We are playing a very talented and fast EVW team on Friday. They are amazing on offense led by senior QB Nolan Geislinger - he is a great runner and an amazing passer, we have our hands full. They have amazing team speed and can score points very fast. We will need to have a great week of prep and limit our mistakes in the game.”