Heading into a frosty Friday night and under 50 degrees under the lights of New Prague, Owatonna knew that one of the keys to beating the New Prague Trojans – who were a close match with the Huskies – was to ensure they win the revenue battle with how close the game might be.
From start to finish, things didn’t go the Huskies’ direction in the turnover margin, allowing the Trojans to capitalize on five interceptions, two failed punts and two fumbles en route to their victory by shutout 27-0 against the Huskies.
Trying to establish his running game early, Owatonna went to senior hooker Dylan Maas on two back-to-back running games to open the game. However, on the second rush attempt, New Prague snatched the ball from its arms and retrieved it for the first turn of the night.
“We just have a lot of work to do,” said Owatonna coach Jeff Williams. “This score, we are very lucky to be at this score. We have a lot of work to do.
Although the Huskies responded by forcing a fumble, which was recovered by senior linebacker Grant Achterkirch, and keeping the Trojans scoreless after a turnaround, they wouldn’t be that lucky with future turnovers.
The biggest catalyst for Owatonna’s unsuccessful battle in revenue margins was her struggling pass attack, which accounted for all five interceptions, some of which killed any momentum the Huskies managed to find during Match.
Sophomore Jacob Ginskey threw four interceptions, two in the second quarter and two in the fourth, as well as a fumble.
Especially being a young player surprisingly propelled into a starting varsity position, five turnovers in a game can hurt confidence.
“We’re going to have to work with him to help him get his confidence back,” Owatonna coach Jeff Williams said. “I think he left the pitch a bit shaken up tonight. New Prague has done a good job returning to its zones. They disguised some things, they had guys undermining the roads and it made Jacob’s life very difficult tonight throwing the ball.
Ginskey’s second interception of the night at the very end of the second quarter was a backlash and the Huskies felt the repercussions throughout the rest of the game.
In his first big practice of the game, Owatonna shoved the ball inside the red zone and knocked on the door to reduce New Prague’s lead to 14-7. After a call on hold, the Huskies were faced with a second and long with less than a minute to go.
Ginskey stepped back and targeted one of his offensive safety covers against senior wide receiver Nick Williams near the end zone. One of New Prague’s defensive backs cut past Nick Williams and cut the interception with 36 seconds left in the half, allowing New Prague to miss the rest of the time to enter the half with a 14-0 lead.
“We did some things tonight that just weren’t very good,” said coach Williams. “If you’re lucky, you won’t stay in this business for long. You kind of have to make your own luck and we just didn’t execute.
In the fourth quarter, junior quarterback Porter Kuchenbecker replaced Ginskey, but faced similar results. On Kuchenbecker’s second play of the drive, he threw a pass that was caught by the Trojans for their fifth of the night, ultimately freezing the game for New Prague.
Apart from interceptions and fumbles, the special teams also experienced their own mistakes which led to a 10-point swing.
On Owatonna’s first punt, a low snap passed Eli Knutson, forcing the senior punter to jump on the ball at the Huskies’ 1-yard line. New Prague started kicking the ball for the first score of the game.
At the end of the third quarter, Knutson punted again, but a few Trojans managed to break through and one of them got his hands on the punt, putting New Prague in favorable territory which ultimately resulted in a field placement.
The Huskies now fall to 4-3 over the season and in the great red southeast subdistrict, while New Prague took third place in the subdistrict with an improving record to 5- 2.
Owatonna will have a short turnaround, as the Huskies return to action on Wednesday when they host Class 4A No. 8 Kasson-Mantorville (5-2) to close their regular season.