Every year, Hutchinson football coach Andy Rostberg comes into the season with three goals: win the regular season, win the section and win state. The Tigers accomplished two of those goals but fell short of the third Thursday after a 22-16 loss to the St. Paul Academy/Minnehaha Academy/Blake Wolfpack in the state semifinal.
Even with a team as dynamic as SMB, Rostberg did not stray far from the formula that has worked for the Tigers: run the ball.
“That was our plan,” Rostberg said. “It was to lean on them (the offensive line) and grind it out and wear them (SMB) out.”
For parts of the game, the Tigers were successful. They carried the ball 47 times for 222 yards. But Hutch also had to keep the Wolfpack defense honest and throw the ball. Quarterback Russell Corrigan attempted eight passes and completed five for 84 yards, but two interceptions proved costly and helped lead to SMB’s victory.
Wolfpack quarterback Jalen Suggs also lived up to the hype. Not only did he complete 16 of 27 passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns, he also ran the ball 20 times for 109 yards and pulled down both interceptions against Corrigan. And while he also threw away two interceptions and lost a fumble, Hutchinson was unable to turn those turnovers into points.
“We didn’t play the perfect game today,” Rostberg said. “We made some mistakes, we got them to turn it over a few times and we weren’t able to capitalize on those turnovers.”
Hutchinson’s first missed opportunity was on its opening possession. After driving the ball all the way down to SMB’s 14-yard line, Corrigan threw his first interception of the game to give SMB the ball back at its 1-yard line.
“To beat a team like this, you don’t have to be perfect,” Rostberg said, “but you got to take advantage of opportunities.”
The Tigers forced a punt and took over again from their 9-yard line. What followed was a typical Hutch drive that lasted 14 plays and more than six minutes, capped off by a 3-yard touchdown run from Tyler Schiller, who led the team with 25 carries for 128 yards.
The lead didn’t last long. SMB bounced back with a touchdown in four plays to tie the game. The score remained tied for the rest of the first half as Hutch was forced to punt but kept the Wolfpack at bay with a fumble recovery by Billy Marquardt and an interception by Devon Verhasselt.
The score remained tied through the third quarter as well. Hutch caught a big break when Corrigan intercepted a pass in the end zone, but after an 11-play drive to the red zone Corrigan was also picked off. A holding penalty set the Tigers back 20 yards, which forced them to throw the ball and caused the drive to fail.
“We didn’t recover from that,” Rostberg said about the penalty. “In order to beat (SMB), you can’t have stuff like that.”
With some momentum back, SMB flew down the field for another four-play drive into the end zone and a 16-8 lead. But the Tigers responded. After a good return to their 42-yard line, Schiller chipped away and and Corrigan punched it in for a 15-yard score with 5:11 left on the clock.
With the game tied up and only a few minutes to play, the Wolfpack put together their longest drive of the game, eating up 64 yards and scoring the game-winning touchdown on a third-and-14 conversion. Worst of all for the Tigers, they were left with only 44 seconds on the clock.
Hutch managed to bring the ball close to midfield with about 21 seconds remaining, but on the third play of the drive Corrigan dropped back and threw a ball that went straight up in the air and was originally called an incomplete pass. Following several minutes of review, officials determined it was a fumble recovered by SMB, and the game was over.
It was a tough loss for the team to swallow, especially for senior captains Schiller and Corrigan. Both reflected on the good times with their teammates and coaches.
“I was blessed enough to be around (Rostberg) for four years,” Schiller said. “You know, being on that team, being a part of this tradition, it was really something special. I’m really thankful for that opportunity. It was a good ride.”
“Every kid on this team would die for coach Rostberg,” Corrigan said. “I love him.”
While this wasn’t the end the Tigers wanted, there was still plenty they were thankful for. There may not be hardware, but Rostberg hopes his players take something more away from their experience than just trophies.
“We always talk about one town, one team, one dream, and that’s Hutch football,” Rostberg said. “It gets in your blood, it does. Sure we want to win, and that’s what we’re trying to do, win football games. But we’re trying to pump out good kids too. I always say, ‘It’s not what your kid can do for Hutch football, it’s what Hutch football can do for your kid,’ and we really believe that.”
SMB 22, Hutchinson 16 (Nov. 14)
SMB ...… 0 8 0 14
Hutch … 0 8 0 8
H—Tyler Schiller 3 run (Russell Corrigan pass to Ethan Beffert)
S—Jalen Suggs 12 pass to Kaden Johnson (Suggs pass to Judah Thomas)
S—Suggs 24 pass to Thomas (Suggs pass to Tony Avila-Tovalin)
H—Corrigan 15 run (Schiller pass to Beffert)
S—Suggs 14 pass to Sadion Johnson (no good)
Rushing — Hutch: 47-222; SMB: 22-114
Passing yards — Hutch: 5-84; SMB: 16-206
Total offense — Hutch: 306; SMB: 320
Passing: Corrigan 5-8-84-0-2
Rushing: Hayden Jensen 6-40, Tyler Schiller 25-128, Mitchell Piehl 1-1, Ty Glaser 1-1, Russell Corrigan 14-52
Receiving: Ethan Beffert 1-30, Tyler Schiller 2-44, Sam Rensch 1-9, Colin Nagel 1-1,
Tackles: Logan Holtz 3, Zeke Cosby 1, Devon Verhasselt 2, Billy Marquardt 3, Sam Rensch 2, Hayden Jensen 9, Ethan Beffert 4, Payton Jepsen 2, Mitchell Piehl 2, Alex Nelson 2, Jake Schumann 1, Tristan Hoppe 6, Cody Kurth 3, Jordan Titus 1, Riley Gill 1, Russell Corrigan 2
Sacks: Nelson 1
Interceptions: Corrigan 1, Verhasselt 1
Fumble recoveries: Marquardt 1v