BY ROB LAPLANTE
Considering they were shutout in week one, 28.6 is a pretty impressive scoring average through the first three games of the season.
For the second consecutive Friday, the St. Michael-Albertville football team erupted for 43 points. In week two it was Duluth East; in week three, the Knights erased a quick 7-0 deficit and exploded for a 43-13 victory over Big Lake.
“It was good to carry over some momentum from last week,” said head coach Jared Essler. “I feel like we have some guys who are able to make some big plays and it was good to see them be able to do that.”
Big Lake started the game with a few big plays of its own. After marching the length of the field on the game’s opening drive, running back Cody Knaeble gave the Hornets a 7-0 lead with a 35-yard touchdown run.
STMA was quick to answer – and often. On the Knights first possession, senior quarterback Cole Krutzig hit senior wide receiver Brian Ferry with a long pass completion that set up a one-yard TD run by senior fullback Bennie Wilson. Just two minutes later, Krutzig connected with senior wide receiver Tony Bork for a 43-yard passing TD giving the Knights a 14-7 lead.
“They scored right away and we knew we had to punch them right back and get some momentum going in our favor,” Krutzig said.
Krutzig and Bork were not finished for the night. After Big Lake scored to start the second quarter, the extra point came up short keeping the lead 14-13. On the ensuing kickoff, the Knights marched down the field and again, it was Krutzig and Bork connecting for a 13-yard passing TD.
“It’s my job to catch it, Cole to throw and hopefully get a connection going,” said Bork, who finished the game with a career high seven receptions, 90 yards and two TD’s. “Hopefully I can increase that against Rogers and continue on into the season.”
Filling in for the injured Ryan Lyzhoft, junior running back Chris Kartes and sophomore Noah Evans each scored in the second half. Lyzhoft, a senior, will miss the rest of the season when he learned earlier in the week he had tore his ACL muscle.
“Lyzhoft is a big loss for us, but we know we have a lot of running backs that can step up and get the job done,” said Krutzig, who completed 11 of 13 attempts for 189 yards and two TD’s. “It was really nice to see both (Kartes and Evans) score and step up.”
Kartes had 10 carries for 59 yards and Evans finished with nine carries for 50 yards. It was the second straight week Evans found the end zone.
The highlight of the night came at the start of the third quarter. With Big Lake kicking off, the Knights pulled off a trick play. Senior wide receiver Brian Ferry took a reverse handoff and raced down the sidelines 90-yards for the score.
“Seeing my other co-worker (Ferry) with that return blew my mind a little bit seeing him book it down the sidelines,” Bork said. “Butterflies were in the classroom before the game, but we came out and performed.”
Defensively, the Knights continued to hold its opponents down. In three games, STMA has allowed only 27 total points this season. Only Cambridge-Isanti has allowed fewer points (26) through three weeks.
Sophomore linebacker Tyler Berg led the Knights with six total tackles, four solos and one sack. Senior defensive back Dallas Freeman picked off Big Lake quarterback Brandon Holthaus. It was the second consecutive game Freeman picked up an interception.
“We didn’t start out the best,” Essler said. “We’ll have to come through the back door if we have too. If we just lineup and keep playing our best, we’ll see when October rolls around where we’re at.”
The Knights (2-1) will play Friday night at Rogers (3-0). The sixth-ranked Royals are the defending Mississippi 8 Conference champions and are coming off a 38-36 thrilling victory against Buffalo. The following week the Knights return home against the Bison for Homecoming weekend.