FARIBAULT — That’s more like it.
Taking the field for the first time since being pushed to the absolute brink against Rochester Mayo, the top-ranked Owatonna football team got back to its dominant form against rival Faribault and soared to a 56-7 victory in a Big Southeast District crossover game at Bruce Smith Field.
The Huskies clicked in all phases on Friday night — and after being tested in its opening drive — diced up the Falcons’ defense to the tune of 500 total yards of offense (266 rushing, 234 passing).
On the other side of the ball, Owatonna was burned for 65-yard TD pass that gave Faribault a flicker of hope in the second quarter but largely did what it has done all season: Stonewall the running game and rattle the opposition through the air.
Faribault gained just 35 rushing yards on 19 carries against the Huskies’ starters and were stuffed behind the line of scrimmage on seven attempts in the first half alone. The Falcons also completed just three passes all game for 82 yards.
“We executed a nice diverse game plan,” Owatonna coach Jeff Williams said. “I thought we ran the ball pretty well. We threw the ball pretty well. I thought our quarterback decision-making was pretty good on option plays and RPO-type stuff and I was pleased with the receivers’ desire to go up and get the ball. Short of a couple plays where they isolated some kids in space, I thought our defense played very well as well. They did a couple things that exposed or isolated a kid or two and it’s just stuff we have to work on and get better. I thought they came out and executed in all phases tonight.”
After starter Brayden Truelson threw back-to-back touchdown passes on Owatonna’s first two drives, Sol Havelka took the helm late in the opening quarter and capped each of his three possessions with touchdowns. He found the end zone on the ground twice from six yards out and lofted a 13-yard touchdown pass to Payton Beyer with just 16 seconds remaining before the break to help give the Huskies a commanding 42-7 lead.
Truelson was nearly perfect through the air, finishing 9-for-10 for 143 yards and two touchdowns while Havelka completed 6 of 8 throws for 80 yards.
“It’s great to have two different quarterbacks with two different styles, but the more you are in the game, the more reps you get, it helps you get that flow,” said Havelka, who finished with 106 yards of total offense. “The linemen get the flow and the receivers get into rhythm. It’s game-to-game deal, but having two quarterbacks who can do their own thing, and do it well, really helps us out passing and running.”
Beyer continued to blossom on both sides of the ball and put together his finest offensive performance to date, snatching four passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Carson DeKam reached out and speared one-handed touchdown grab on Owatonna’s opening possession and finished with two receptions for 29 yards. Matt Williams led the team with six catches for 55 yards.
When Truelson and Havelka weren’t carving up the Faribault defense through the air, Tanner Hall was cruising through wide running lanes and racking up 143 yards in only two quarters of action. His 38-yard touchdown gallop with exactly 6 minutes on the clock in the second quarter sapped all hope from the Falcons’ sideline as it just came five plays after they had drawn within 28-7 on a long Alex Gardner touchdown reception.
“The o-line definitely did a great job,” Hall said. “I would give them 90 perfect of the credit because they made the big holes for me and I just ran and found the end zone and picked up yards the whole game.”
A week after fumbling late in the fourth quarter against the Spartans and gaining just 56 yards on 15 carries, Hall busted six runs between 16 and 38 yards and averaged 11.9 yards-per-carry.
Owatonna started the game with the ball and marched across midfield and near the red zone before facing a 4th-and-2 from the FHS 21-yard line. Williams called Hall’s number on the pivotal play and the junior drew contact around the line of scrimmage, kept fighting and leaned forward just across the 19-yard line for the first down.
One play later, DeKam was celebrating with his teammates after his nifty 19-yard one-gloved TD catch across the middle.
“We knew that Faribault would come out and pose some good competition,” Williams said. “We knew that the first quarter was going to be tough until we could crack the nut, and ultimately we did and made a couple really nice things happen in the first couple drives and then we were able to roll a little more. That first series we had to work for it a little.”
The Huskies forced a 3-and-out on the Falcons’ opening possession and promptly went ahead 14-0 after Beyer came down with a leaping touchdown grab from 38 yards out at the 7:42 mark.
On Owatonna’s final series of the first quarter, Havelka engineered a quick 66-yard scoring march that was highlighted by another spectacular diving grab by Beyer at the 1-yard line, this one spanning 32 yards.
Another Faribault (1-4) short possession led to another Owatonna scoring drive as the Huskies jumped ahead 28-0 on Havelka’s second TD run and went on to add two more scores before intermission to seize full control.
Owatonna (5-0) scored two touchdowns in the second half, once on a 3-yard run by Truelson and once on a 12-yard run by Jerez Autridge. Riding behind the starting offensive line on his first series, Autridge finished with 72 yards on nine carries.
Filling in for the injured Sam Henson, Lane Versteeg drilled all eight of his extra points with relative ease.
The Huskies are back in action in Week 6 for a Homecoming showdown against No. 9-ranked Mankato West on Oct. 5. It will be the first meeting between the teams since September of 2016.
The Scarlets defeated Rochester Mayo, 58-21, on Saturday at TCO Performance Center in Eagan.
Faribault hosts Mankato East in Week 6.
Owatonna 56, Faribault 7
O—Carson DeKam 19 pass from Brayden Truelson (Lane Versteeg kick), 9:20
O—Payton Beyer 38 pass from Truelson (Versteeg kick), 7:42
O—Sol Havelka 6 run (Versteeg kick), 0:28
O—Havelka 6 run (Versteeg kick), 8:37
F—Alex Gardner 65 pass from Nick Ehlers (kick good), 8:26
O—Tanner Hall 38 run (Versteeg kick), 6:00
O—Beyer 13 pass from Havelka (Versteeg kick), 0:16
O—Truelson 3 run (Versteeg kick), 5:53
O—Jerez Autridge 12 run (Versteeg kick), 11:54
OWATONNA INDIVIDUAL STATS
RUSHING—Sol Havelka 4-26-1, Brayden Truelson 2-5-1, Taylor Bogen 1-0, Abe Stockwell 1-2, Jerez Autridge 9-72-1, Tanner Hall 12-143-1, Dylan Maas 3-11, Cole Earles 2-7
PASSING—Sol Havelka 6-8-80-1-0, Brayden Truelson 9-10-143-2-0, Logan Gauthier 1-2-11-0-0
RECEIVING—Matt Williams 6-55, Isaac Oppegard 1-10, Payton Beyer 4-95-2, Max DeGrood 1-11, Carson DeKam 2-29-1, Connor Budach 2-34-0