Posted On: 09/21/19 5:45 AM
Things could not have started worse for the Robbinsdale Armstrong Falcons. In possibly the biggest 5A game in the state this week, undefeated Armstrong traveled to undefeated Chaska. Two plays into the game, Chaska’s Nick Stanger picked off a pass and returned the pick for a touchdown and a quick 7-0 lead.
Armstrong’s offense drove the ball inside the ten but faced a fourth and goal from the seven. A throw into the corner of the end zone was incomplete, giving the ball – for the first time – to the Chaska offense.
Making their first appearance of the game, the Falcons’ defense gave the fans a glimpse of how dominate they were going to be. Defensive back James Young took advantage of fellow defensive back Rashad Sherwood‘s tipped pass by picking off the pass and setting his offense up with a short field.
Despite the excellent field position, Armstrong faced a fourth and four. Quarterback Jake Breitbach‘s back-shoulder throw to Nick Barrett picked up the first down. Two plays later Breitbach threw a three-yard touchdown to wide receiver Kham Chiaokhioa Bowman to take a 14-7 lead.
After another Breitbach interception, Chaska would tie the score up with a fifteen-yard touchdown run by Stevo Klotz. The score would remain tied at the half.
The Falcons’ defense would not give up another point.
“Our offense got going in the second half, but it was really all about our defense,” Bowman said. “Everyone on offense started clicking off our defense.”
Bowman would get into the end zone again in the third quarter. He caught a short throw and used his superior size and to shake off a tackler and his speed to get down the boundary for a fifteen-yard touchdown.
Down 20-14, Chaska had trouble getting any rhythm on offense. They tried running in the middle, but the Falcons’ linebackers were aggressive and physical at the line of scrimmage. The Hawks tried to throw to the perimeter, but the corners made open-field tackle after open-field tackle.
Breitbach’s quick kick on a fourth down from near midfield backed the Hawks up inside their five-yard line. After nearly giving up a safety on first down, Chaska gambled and threw a pass on third down from their one-yard line. The gamble didn’t work as Jack Major stepped in front of a crossing pattern and caught the pass and made the short run into the end zone.
Chaska had a golden opportunity to get back into the game with a long punt return and a fifteen-yard penalty. With a first and ten at the twenty-five, Armstrong’s Dante Barnes – who was all over the field from the linebacker position – picked off a pass – ending Chaska’s best chance to score since the second quarter.
Breitbach used his arm all game, but he was able to move around in the pocket too. He rolled out and moved in the pocket to find throwing lanes and even pulled the ball down occasionally to pick up a few yards when the play would break down. On a designed quarterback draw, the senior ran up the middle, made a move just passed the line of scrimmage and turned on the speed for a 66-yard touchdown run.
“It was a great feeling seeing the green space open up,” Breitbach said. “My O-line opened up a huge hole, and I just ran as fast as I could.”
The Falcons turned to running back Sean O’Driscol and a physical offensive line to put the game away. The running of O’Driscol – especially in the second half – seemed to wear down the Hawks’ defense. In the red zone, Breitbach found Bowen and the duo hooked up for a second touchdown and a 26-14 lead.
The defense took over from there and sealed the 26-14 victory.
“We owe it all to the defense,” Breitbach said. “We would not have been in that game without the defense. The offense put them in a hole 7-0 before they even got on the field. The defense did an amazing job shutting out a great offensive team.”
Armstrong moved to 4-0 and will travel to Irondale next week. Chaska dropped to 3-1 and will play Apple Valley at TCO Stadium.