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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Prep football: Grand Meadow beats Underwood in 9-Man title game

  • Grand Meadow won its first state football title by beating Underwood 28-6 in the 9-Man Championship at the Prep Bowl.
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  • Trenton Bleifus likes how his second chance at the Metrodome turned out.
     
    Bleifus ran for two touchdowns and threw for another, and Grand Meadow won its first state football title by beating Underwood 28-6 in the 9-Man Championship Friday at the Prep Bowl.
     
    "This is way better," Bleifus said, comparing the win to last year's final loss. "It feels great to get another chance."
     
    Landon Jacobson added 123 yards rushing for the Superlarks (13-1), who lost the 2012 championship game to Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley, and lost 10 seniors to graduation.
     
    "We were underdogs within our own conference," said coach Gary Sloan. "We have a rich tradition and our guys step on the field each game expecting to win. We go in with that attitude and the guys have done it all season."
     
    Bleifus, who ran for 83 yards and threw for 111, sealed the win early in the fourth quarter with a 33-yard run.
     
    He scrambled in the pocket to avoid what would have been at least a 10-yard loss, cut back to the right side, sneaked through a pile of players and sprinted to the end zone to make it 28-0.
     
    LeRoy Hauge caught a 32-yard pass from Adam Creek late in the game for Underwood (10-4), making its first title game appearance.
     
    Underwood entered the game averaging 338.9 yards rushing, but finished with just 95. The first four times it had the ball, Underwood managed just one first down. It finished the game with nine.
     
    "We lost the battle up front," said Rockets coach Chuck Ross. "Football's won on the line of scrimmage and we didn't get it done today."
     
    Stopped at the Underwood 12-yard line on its opening drive, Grand Meadow's Trent Tangen partially blocked a Rockets' punt after a three-and-out to give the Superlarks the ball at the Underwood 22. Bleifus scored on a 5-yard run five plays later for a 7-0 lead.
     
    Grand Meadow held a 320-189 total yard advantage, and had it not stalled three times in the red zone — including early in the second quarter when Bleifus couldn't connect with a wide open Blake Olson in the end zone — the score could have been much worse.
     
    "I was frustrated with myself, I made some bad throws," Bleifus said. "Our defense stepped up and that's what we needed. We knew it was going to come down to defense."
     
    Just when it appeared Underwood would only be down by one score at halftime, the Rockets Noah Thompson fumbled on his own 36 and the ball was recovered by the Superlarks' Isaac Tangen with 50 seconds left in the second quarter.
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    On its first play from scrimmage, Bleifus and Olson hooked up for a 36-yard score off a flea-flicker and a 13-0 Grand Meadow lead. Olson said the ball was tipped by an Underwood defender.
     
    "We were in position to make the play. ... That one kind of took the wind out of our sails," Ross said.
     
    A 2-yard run by Jacobson capped a 10-play drive to open the second half and make it 20-0 Grand Meadow.
     
    "We redeemed ourselves," said Isaac Tangen. "It feels amazing."

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