When looking at the scoring drives and stat sheet of Waseca’s regular-season finale against Fairmont, one would be hard pressed to even imagine what transpired between the Bluejays and Cardinals.
Waseca forced five Fairmont turnovers only to see the Cardinals score on three separate special teams play. With the Cardinals holding the ball late in the game, Waseca’s defense held on three-straight passes, giving the Bluejays the ball back and securing a 26-22 win in Fairmont.
The blue and gold’s special teams’ woes started in the first quarter. Punting from within Waseca’s own red zone, a botched snap went over the head of Waseca punter Eric Maas. The Bluejays recovered the fumbled in their own end zone, giving the Cardinals a safety and a 2-0 lead that held up through one quarter of play.
Fairmont experienced some of its own special teams miscues in the second. A Cardinals punt went into the back of the team’s own lineman, forcing the ball to go backwards and giving Waseca a fumble recovery in the red zone. Waseca took advantage on the next play when Saiveon Williamson found Jack Vetsch for a 14-yard touchdown pass.
Before the half though, the Cardinals used a bit of trickery on fourth and 11. Fairmont used a fake-punt pass that was good for 61 yards through the air, leaving Waseca with a 9-7 halftime deficit.
Fairmont’s third special teams score came after the break. The Cardinals blocked Maas’ punt from Waseca’s own 25-yard line and returned it to the house, making it a 9-point Fairmont lead.
Needing to bring momentum back to its own side, Waseca engineered a nine-play, 62-yard drive that was capped off by a 10-yard touchdown run from Kinkade.
After the Cardinals fumbled on the first play of the fourth quarter, Waseca drove down to the Cards’ 18-yard line. On fourth down though, Waseca opted for a field goal that came up short, but roughing the kicker was called, giving Waseca new life on its drive. Two plays later, Williamson sprinted into the end zone from 11 yards out, giving Waseca its second lead of the game at 20-16.
Fairmont fumbled once again on its next drive and Waseca wasted little time getting back in the end zone. Kinkade punched in a 3-yard touchdown that was set up by a 32-yard rush from the senior one play earlier. It was two touchdowns in 41 seconds for a 26-16 Bluejays lead.
The Cardinals scored once more, but Waseca’s defense held up on Fairmont’s final drive to close out the game.
Waseca ended with 177 yards on the ground, 156 of which came from Kinkade on 28 carries. The senior was a workhorse in the fourth quarter, gaining 102 yards on the ground. Waseca picked up 70 yards through the air from a combination of Kinkade and sophomore Hunter Rodriguez, most of which went to Maas for 53 reception yards.
Defensively, Hank Hagen led the team with six tackles, followed by Cason Slattery with five. Williamson picked off three Fairmont passes as well.
Waseca’s regular season comes to a close with a 7-1 record and a likely No. 3 seed in section play. The Bluejays are guaranteed at least one home game, which takes place at 7 p.m. Tuesday.