ST. ANSGAR — All season long, St. Ansgar carried a chip on its shoulder because some people outside the program believed there would be a falloff after last year’s trip to the Class A semifinals.
Proving those people wrong has motivated the Saints all season.
With a chance Friday night to get back to the UNI-Dome in their Class A quarterfinal game against two-time defending state champion Gladbrook-Reinbeck, St. Ansgar brought its A game.
Behind the three-pronged rushing attack of Dayton Smith, Jack Sievert and Josh Van Vliet, the ninth-ranked Saints avenged last year’s semifinal loss to the seventh-ranked Rebels as they rolled to a 35-7 victory.
“It’s a great feeling,” Van Vliet said. “It’s more the fact that no one thought we’d be here right now. There’s a lot of people — even people around St. Ansgar — who were saying, ‘They’re not going to be as good as the last class and they’re not going to get this far,’ because we basically lost everybody.”
The Saints had all their pieces working Friday.
Smith got the scoring started in the first quarter on a 15-yard touchdown run to put St. Ansgar up 7-0.
Gladbrook-Reinbeck struck back as the first quarter expired when quarterback Hunter Lott hit Walker Thede on a 35-yard fly route to tie the game, 7-7.
Then came a play in the second quarter that turned the game for the Rebels. Lott, who also plays on defense, went out with a leg injury and was unable to return. The G-R offense was never able to fire up again.
“We have a lot of guys we trust subbing and coming in, but it just changes,” Rebels coach John Olson said. “You lose player like that it changes a lot of stuff, but this was too good of a team to overcome stuff like that.”
Meanwhile, St. Ansgar’s offense kept rolling.
The Saints tacked on 14 more points in the second quarter to take a 21-7 lead into halftime, and Sievert and Smith added a touchdown run apiece in the second half for good measure.
Smith led the way with a game-high 185 yards on 25 carries, Sievert rushed 20 times for 156 yards, and Van Vliet added 98 yards on 20 carries. The Saints out-gained the Rebels, 454-173.
“We’ve been underdogs all year it seems like, and now that we’re here ... well, we’re the only ones who thought we’d be here and it feels even better because of that,” Smith said.
Next Friday, St. Ansgar faces Hudson in the state semifinals at the UNI-Dome.
“They’ve had that lunch pail mentality,” said Saints coach Drew Clevenger. “They come to practice each day trying to get better and they made a lot of growth over the course of the year, so I’m very proud of them.”
St. Ansgar 35, Glad.-Reinbeck 7
Gladbrook-Reinbeck 7 0 0 0 — 7
St. Ansgar 7 14 7 7 — 35
SA – Dayton Smith 15 run (Jack Mendoza kick)
G-R – Walker Thede 35 pass from Hunter Lott (Thede kick)
SA – Smith 33 run (Mendoza kick)
SA – Josh Van Vliet 2 run (Mendoza kick)
SA – Sievert 5 run (Mendoza kick)
SA – Smith 4 run (Mendoza kick)
First downs 8 23
Rushes-yards 25-108 67-454
Comp-att-int 3-12-1 0-4-0
Passing yards 65 0
Total yards 173 454
Penalties-yards 4-20 12-58
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
GLADBROOK-REINBECK — Gage Murty 11-71, Hunter Lott 2-0, Walker Thede 7-15, Josh Peterson 5-21, Matt Johannsen 7-15.
ST. ANSGAR — Dayton Smith 25-185, Josh Van Vliet 20-98, Jack Sievert 20-156, Collin Kramer 2-14.
GLADBROOK-REINBECK — Lott 2-4-0, 46 yards, Thede 1-8-1, 19 yards.
ST. ANSGAR — Kramer 0-4-0.
GLADBROOK-REINBECK — Thede 2-46, Johannsen 1-19.
ST. ANSGAR — none.