A lot of sports cliches came to mind for fans of both teams at the end of the Colfax-Spring Valley football game last week. “It ain’t over til it’s over” is one that seems to fit best. With the ball on the Spring Valley 33 yard line, and .04 showing on the clock, the stars were aligned in the Vikings’ favor on this Friday the 13th as quarterback Jarrod Rudi, with great blocking from his O line, found Devon Utpadel in the corner of the endzone for the touchdown and a 19-14 Colfax win. The game was played in the Don and Nona Williams Stadium on the UW-Stout campus while Spring Valley works on their own field.
“We told Ethin (Kiekhafer) and Devon to run a post and fly,” Colfax coach Mark Maloney said. ”The Spring Valley defenders drifted toward Ethin and Devon was open enough to make a great catch. You can call it a Hail Mary if you want. I know I was praying! I have been on the other end of a play like that many times in my coaching career. It feels good to be on this side of it. ”
The teams were evenly matched throughout the game with both teams collecting 14 first downs and Colfax rushing for 166 yards and the Cardinals 163. But the passing game was the big difference as Rudi completed eight of 14 passes for 206 yards and Sawyer DeMoe completed a 45 yard pass. Spring Valley completed just four of seven passes, two each by Logan and Zach Newton for 72 yards.
Neither team moved the ball in the first quarter, indicated by the 0-0 score. But moving into the second stanza, Rudi completed a 40 yard pass to Utpadel and Jeremiah Wait ripped off a 16 yard run to put the ball on the Cardinal 23. But Rudi’s next pass landed in the hands of Spring Valley’s Bryan Bednarek who ran untouched for 77 Cards all the way to the endzone. The kick made it 7-0 but the lead didn’t last long. After starting at their own 35 after the out of bounds kickoff, short runs by Noah Pretasky and Wait was followed by Rudi completing a pass for a first down to Jacob Steinke. A 46 yard completion to DeMoe put the ball on the Cardinal three and after a five yard penalty on the Vikings after a one yard loss, Rudi found Utpadel for a nine yard scoring pass. A Kiekhafer kick knotted the score at the 6:26 mark of the quarter.
The Vikings dodged a potential bullet when Logan Newton returned the kickoff all the way to the Colfax 32, but the ball was knocked loose and the Vikings pounced on it. Rudi was dropped for two straight losses but on a third and 21, Pretasky broke loose for a 66 yard streak down the left sideline to the Cardinal 13. Wait gained four yards on a little shake and bake move and on second and goal from the five, Kiekhafer blasted his way through the middle for six points. His kick was off the mark but Colfax led 13-7 with 3:51 left in the half. After forcing the Cardinals to punt, the Vikings had a chance to add more points as DeMoe completed a 45 yard pass to Utpadel but time ran out with the ball on Spring Valley’s 20 yard line.
It was Big “D” time for the Vikings as they forced and recovered fumbles on the first two possessions for the Cardinals to start the third quarter. But the Viking offense wasn’t doing much themselves and they had to punt once and turned it over on a fumble. Spring Valley started a drive with 3:48 left in the quarter and controlled it for almost six minutes on 13 plays. With the ball on the Colfax 27, Zach Meyer and Andrew Adix stopped the runner two straight times and Pretasky broke up a third down pass attempt. And on fourth and seven, Steinke came up with a huge interception in the endzone to give Colfax the ball.
Colfax had to punt the ball away with 3:06 left in the game however, and a five yard facemask penalty on them gave Spring Valley the ball at their own 38. A 38 yard pass completion and several running plays moved the ball to the Colfax six and on a fourth and two, with 47 seconds left, the Vikings just needed one last stop to put the game away. But the Cardinal runner slipped through the middle for the first down, and on the next play Tyler O’Keefe hit paydirt and with the kick, it was Spring Valley 14, Colfax 13.
The stage was set for the late game heroics with Colfax taking the kickoff to their own 36. Rudi threw an incomplete pass, then with 12 seconds left found a leaping Kiekhafer on the left sideline for a 31 yard completion. Then cool as a cucumber, Rudi, after being hurried and forced out of the pocket several times in the game, had time to look for a receiver and completed his final pass of the game for the winning points.
“We made a lot of big plays on both sides of the ball to earn this win,” Maloney said. “We made Spring Valley work for all their yards. They are a physical team but our defense kept them out of the endzone until the last minute. This was an important conference win for the team,” he added.
Pretasky rushed for 98 yards on eight carries to lead the Vikings while Wait collected 59 yards on 11 attempts. Utpadel snared five passes for 170 yards and Kiekhafer grabbed two. Defensively, Rudi, Wait and Aliymu Davis were all credited with a fumble recovery.
The Vikings improved their record to 3-1 and are 1-1 in conference play. They return home this Friday with the undaunting task of playing Glenwood City. The Hilltoppers are the Division 7 state champions and have outscored their four opponents this year 260-39.
“We know they are going to play the same type of game,” Maloney said. “They will pound the ball with several different strong and fast running backs. We’ll try and prepare the best we can for them. ”