The Cromwell Cardinals have made so many trips to the state tournament over the last 20 years- 14 to be exact- it can be tough for particular games to stand out. Saturday’s semifinal game against Underwood, however, will likely be talked about in Cromwell for many years to come as the Cardinals scored 18 points in the fourth quarter to complete a ferocious comeback and defeat the Rockets 18-12.
Jordan Suhonen, Cromwell’s senior quarterback, had a big game offensively, putting up 172 yards rushing and scoring two touchdowns. His biggest play, however, might’ve been a 27-yard punt return late in the fourth quarter, setting up Cromwell for their game-winning drive. Starting on the 50 with 1:32 to go, senior running back Nick Berg broke a 41-yard run down to the Underwood 9, and on the next play Suhonen punched it in to give the Cardinals their first lead of the game.
The touchdown drive only took 37 seconds, leaving plenty of time for Underwood’s Dalton Jampsa to lead his team down the field. Jampsa took to the air, and with the help of receiver Ben Woodman, the Rockets moved quickly down to the Cromwell 20. A Jampsa rush plus a late hit out of bounds moved the ball down to the 4 with 18 seconds to go, but then the Cardinals defense dug in. Jampsa tried to pass for the game-tying touchdown a couple times but the balls fell incomplete, and on a fourth down play with one second remaining, the Cardinals forced one last incompletion to come away with the 18-12 win.
Cromwell needed to overcome a 12-point deficit to make any of the late heroics possible, and they’d been stymied on offense for three quarters before hitting their stride. After falling behind 12-0, Suhonen found Tyler Sulkowski with a 40-yard touchdown strike to cut the lead in half. Underwood then moved the ball down the field, but Cromwell’s Nick Berg intercepted a Jampsa pass at the Cromwell 25 to stop the drive.
Underwood’s defense then forced Cromwell to punt, but a muffed catch of a high, deep punt gave the Cardinals the ball back on the Underwood 36, and they’d take full advantage. After a pass from Suhonen to Mike Hedin on third down to move the chains, Suhonen snapped off a 26 yard touchdown run to tie the score and set the stage for the big finish.
Underwood’s defense came up with some big plays in the first half, blocking a short Cromwell field goal attempt early in the second quarter and stopping the Cardinals on fourth and goal from the 3 at the end of the quarter to keep the game scoreless at the break. Their offense took off in the third quarter, scoring on a methodical, all-run 66 yard drive that ended with Brett Collins pounding it in from a yard out. The Rockets struck again the next time they had the ball, as Jampsa hit Woodman for a 55-yard touchdown that gave Underwood a 12-0 lead.
On the game, Cromwell racked up 294 yards of rushing offense and 341 yards total, while Underwood had 134 yards passing and 122 yards rushing. Woodman caught seven balls for 102 yards and a touchdown to lead Rockets receivers.
Cromwell will advance to next week’s Prep Bowl finals against Lanesboro; they’re looking for their fourth title and first since 1998. Kickoff of the 9-Man finals is scheduled for 10am on Friday, November 26.
For more scores from the semifinals, please click here.
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