KENESAW – In a back and forth offensive showcase on Halloween night, Bertrand had to go backwards to set up their winning plays.
And, when they did, they went big.
The seventh-ranked Vikings (10-0) scored on three consecutive possessions in the third and fourth quarters on third down-and-long situations that turned a 46-45 barnburner into an improbable 82-45 win over fifth-ranked Kenesaw.
“We got in a lot of third-and-long for some reason, but every time we executed,” Bertrand coach Brent Streeter said. “We’ve been in a few games like this, I remember last year against Loomis, it was just speed on speed and it turned into this.
“We were fortunate to get some big plays and to hold them off.”
After holding a 39-31 lead at the half, Bertrand had watched the Blue Devils cut the lead to one point with 4:13 left in the third quarter on Tyler Schnitzler’s 43-yard touchdown run.
And, facing third-and-16 from their own 9-yard line the Vikings snuck standout running back Ryan Dahlgren out of the backfield and he caught a Nick High pass and went 71 yards for the score.
It went from bad to worse for the Blue Devils after that.
After punting on their next possession, Kenesaw held Bertrand to a third-and-25 from midfield. But, High found Robert Edgren behind the defense for a touchdown and a 58-45 lead.
When Schnitzler was intercepted by Dahlgren on the Blue Devils next possession, High connected with Tyler Dahlgren on third-and-19 for a 32-yard score that left the game in little doubt.
“I’m speechless,” Kenesaw coach Craig Schnitzler said after the contest. “We just didn’t make the plays we needed to at the right time. But, you have to give Bertrand credit, too. They were really good tonight.
“I don’t think either coach would tell you they got their best defensive effort tonight. We tried to stay with them as long as we could.”
Prior to the Viking onslaught that finished game, it was as much fun as should be allowed on a football field.
The two teams played at a break neck pace in the first half, which was started by Tyler Schnitzler’s 70-yard return of the opening kickoff which set up his 3-yard score.
Ryan Dahlgren scored twice and had 188 yards on his first five carries for Bertrand which trailed 21-19 after the first quarter.
Bertrand took their first lead at 27-24 on Ryan Dahlgren’s 53-yard run and then led 33-31 on Tyler Dahlgren’s 45-yard run on a counter play. They got some cushion after forcing a Kenesaw punt on their next possession.
After a 26-yard punt return from freshman Tyrell Younger and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Kenesaw, Tyler Dahlgren got behind the defense and caught a pass from High with 19 seconds left for the halftime advantage.
Both coaches agreed that a late first quarter injury to freshman running back/defensive back Preston Schnitzler played a key role in the game.
“We got a little short-handed in the secondary,” Craig Schnitzler said. “Losing Preston hurt us there and we had to play some different guys on defense and it caught up to us in the second half.”
Streeter felt the Vikings had some favorable match-ups with their speed.
“We thought we did have some speed advantages if we spread them out a little bit,” the Viking coach said. “We like what we could do with all of our guys and the speed that we have.”
The numbers jump off the stat sheet. Bertrand had 688 yards of total offense, to 365 for the Blue Devils.
Ryan Dahlgren ran 16 times for 311 yards and five touchdowns. He added a sixth score and 98 yards receiving. Tyler Dahlgren carried 12 times for 95 yards and caught three passes – two for scores – for 81 yards. High was 8-for-14 through the air for 252 yards and four touchdowns.
Tyler Schnitzler led the Blue Devils, who finished 8-2, with 212 yards rushing on 22 attempts. He threw for 59 yards and a touchdown.
Bertrand will host 9-1 Shelton, a 42-17 winner over Spalding/Spalding Academy, in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.
Bertrand 82, Kenesaw 45
Bertrand (10-0).....................................19 20 13 30 — 82
Kenesaw (8-2)...................................21 10 14 0 — 45
K – Tyler Schnitzler 3 run (Richard Sonneck kick), 11:39
B – Ryan Dahlgren 45 run (Mike Fitzgerald kick), 9:59
K – Preston Schnitzler 1 run (Sonneck kick), 7:30
B – Ryan Dahlgren 65 run (kick failed), 7:18
K – Devon Burr 4 run (Sonneck kick), 4:21
B – Tyler Dahlgren 1 run (run failed), 1:29
K – Sonneck 21 field goal, 9:42
B – Ryan Dahlgren 53 run (Tyrell Younger pass from Nick High), 8:44
K – Austin Schnitzler 2 run (Sonneck kick), 5:52
B – Tyler Dahlgren 45 run (run failed), 4:28
B – Tyler Dahlgren 35 pass from High (run failed), :19
B – Ryan Dahlgren 61 run (Fitzgerald kick), 11:11
K – Mason Stocker 15 pass from Tyler Schnitzler (Sonneck kick), 9:06
K – Tyler Schnitzler 43 run (Sonneck kick), 4:13
B – Ryan Dahlgren 71 pass from High (kick failed), 3:20
B – Robert Edgren 40 pass from High (kick blocked), 11:50
B – Tyler Dahlgren 32 pass from High (Ryan Dahlgren run), 7:36
B – Tyler Dahlgren 23 run (Edgren pass from High), 6:13
B – Ryan Dahlgren 32 run (Jason Holen run), 4:11
First downs 17 20
Rushes-yards 36-432 53-306
Passing yards 252 59
Comp.-Att.-Int. 8-14-1 4-13-1
Return yards 67 165
Penalities-yards 9-75 8-69
Fumbles-lost 2-0 0-0
Punts-Avg. 1-36 4-31.2
RUSHING – B, Ryan Dahlgren 16-311, Tyler Dahlgren 12-95, Nick High 6-28, Team 2-(minus 2). K, Preston Schnitzler 5-19, Tyler Schnitzler 22-212, Burr 8-38, Austin Schitzler 13-72, Panec 1-4, Shurigar 1-3, Long 1-2, Harpham 1-(minus 4).
PASSING – B, High 8-14-252-1. K, Tyler Schnitzler 4-13-59-1.
RECEIVING – B, Younger 1-17, Ryan Dahlgren 2-98, Edgren 2-56, Tyler Dahlgren 3-81. K, Preston Schnitzler 1-19, Brumbaugh 1-14, Stocker 2-26.