CLASS A STATE FOOTBALL: Martin, Mayer Lutheran steamroll their way to Class A semifinals

JORDAN – Mayer Lutheran football coach Dean Aurich knew his team was good. He didn’t know how good.

He does now.

Taking on the Murray County Central Rebels in the Class A state quarterfinals, Aurich saw his team knock off the No. 1-ranked team in Class A with a dominant 34-8 win Friday night over the Rebels to advance to the state semifinals

“I just told them we’re for real,” Aurich said with a laugh. “It’s hard to say because you just don’t have common opponents. We’re a strong team and we showed it.”

A battle early on, it was the Mayer Lutheran defense that took over the game in the second quarter. After allowing MCC to take the lead in the first, the Crusaders held the Rebels in check the rest of the way as Tim Zupke’s defense delivered with another stellar performance.

“He does a great job,” Aurich said about his defensive coordinator. “They had some crazy formations. We like his defense and against this quarterback because it really puts a lot of pressure on them.”

Mayer Lutheran quickly looked to answer after falling behind. After turning it over on downs inside the 10-yard line, it took an incredible throw and catch from Ty Hoese to Teigan Martin on the next drive to put the Crusaders back in front.

“They were giving us that little out route all day,” Aurich said. “We took it three or four times and probably could have taken a couple more. Teigan’s got great hands. That was a big play for us.”

On 4th and goal from the 10-yard line, Hoese found Martin in the back corner of the end zone for the score and to give Mayer Lutheran the lead.

“The ball was in the air and I’m tall,” Martin said about the catch. “It’s just what I do. It was huge. It gave us all the energy and momentum we could have possibly wanted. It was awesome.”

Martin’s catch put Mayer Lutheran ahead with just over four minutes left in the second quarter. After the defense came through with another three and out, it was time for Hoese and company to complete the two-minute drill.

Hoese and the Crusaders went 57 yards with no timeouts. The drive was capped off by a seven-yard pass to Sam Dennis giving the Crusaders a 21-8 lead heading into halftime.

“That was big,” Aurich said. We practice it all the time. Ty runs it really well. It was a great two-minute drill.”

The score for Mayer Lutheran was a big one as they doubled up by getting the ball first in the second half. A 40-yard touchdown pass from Hoese to Abram Jopp completed the two for one for Mayer Lutheran as they extended their lead to 28-8 less than four minutes into the third quarter.

Up three scores, Mayer Lutheran knew it wasn’t over. Taking on a team that averages more than 33 points per game, the Crusader defense stood firm the rest of the way, holding the Rebels to a season-low eight points.

“We just rely on each other so much,” Isaac Hahn said about the defense. “We practice hard together. We just trust each other. We’ve all got to do our job and trust that everybody else will do theirs. It seems to be working so far. It’s fun to go out there and see four guys in the backfield.”

“We knew if we kept to our game plan and listen to our coaches everything would be fine,” Martin added.

With the win, Mayer Lutheran advances to the Class A semifinals next weekend. Another win next moves them closer to the goal they’ve had all season long and even before that.

“We’ve been playing together since eighth grade,” Martin said. “We want to win it all. That’s been our goal ever since we were 12 years old. That’s our goal.”

The Crusaders will face New York Mills in the semifinals Saturday at US Bank Stadium for a trip to the Prep Bowl.

“Their goal is to try and be the No. 1 legacy,” Aurich said. “It’s going to take some work because every game is against someone good.”

“I can’t wait,” Martin said. “It’s a gorgeous place to play. It will be a lot of fun.”

Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter – @Kovar_HJSports

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