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KoMets spoil Tiger’s Homecoming game

A.L. struggles to produce against K-M, fall 38-22

Albert Lea’s  Homecoming week capped off Friday night with the football game against Kasson-Mantorville.

After leading a long drive and scoring on their first drive, the Tigers struggled to find their way back into the endzone until the fourth quarter. The defense was also a weak spot for the Tigers, giving up five touchdowns in the final three quarters as the KoMets spoiled the Tiger’s homecoming, 38-22.

Albert Lea started its first drive at the 20-yard line after the Kasson-Mantorville kick sailed through the endzone. It seemed like the drive would fizzle after a penalty put Albert Lea in a third and long. However, senior J.J. Mucha-Owens had other plans when he took a rush near the first down marker and gave the team enough confidence to go for the fourth and short.

The risk paid off when senior Izzy Cabezas picked up a yard for the first down. A few plays later Cabezas came up big again, this time catching a pass from senior Logan Howe and scampering 51-yards for the first score of the game.

The Tiger’s defense took the momentum and ran, coming up with three straight stops and forcing a KoMet punt. On the next drive, the Tigers picked up a couple first downs, but were eventually forced to punt the ball away.

The first quarter ended with the Tigers on top 7-0.

Starting the second quarter, Albert Lea forced an errant pitch by the Kasson-Mantorville quarterback and picked up the ensuing fumble at the Kasson-Mantorville 39-yard line.

The Tigers could not capitalize on the good field position, when two plays later a deep pass was intercepted, giving the KoMets the ball back at their own 16.

Kasson-Mantorville marched down the field and was threatening to score, when Albert Lea came up with a big fourth-down stop and took over possession at their own 14-yard line.

The mistakes continued for the Tigers on the first play of their drive after a high snap sailed over Howe’s head and landed in the endzone. Howe recovered the ball to minimize the damage, but the KoMets scored two points on the safety.

The KoMets were not done scoring in the half, as they marched down the field and punched in a one-yard rush to take a 10-7 lead with only 1:44 left in the half.

The Tigers were content to watch the clock run to zero and the half ended with them trailing, 10-7.

Albert Lea started the second half with an unsuccessful onside kick, and Kasson-Mantorville took over at the Albert Lea 38-yard line. The KoMets took advantage of the field position again, scoring on a 17-yard pass in under two minutes gone in the half.

The Tigers were forced to punt on their first drive of the half and had it blocked, giving the KoMets the ball inside of Tiger territory once again. The KoMets struck again with a 27-yard strike on the first play of their drive, taking a 24-7 lead with under eight minutes left in the third.

Albert Lea started to show signs of life in its next drive with Howe connecting with Cabezas on a fourth down conversion. However, the drive came to an end three plays later, after the Tigers were forced to punt.

Mucha-Owens made a play on the defensive side of the field, intercepting a deep KoMet pass and giving the Tigers the ball their own 38. The offense continued to struggle, getting pushed back into a fourth and long, which came up about two yards short and gave the KoMets the ball again in Tiger territory.

After another Kasson-Mantorville score, Albert Lea finally found the endzone for the first time since its opening drive. This time it was Mucha-Owens on a 76-yard swing pass from Howe.

A successful two-point attempt put them two possessions behind the KoMets, trailing 31-15 with 10:23 left in the game.

The Tigers kept the momentum rolling by forcing and recovering a fumble inside their own 10-yard line. However, a pick six halted any forward momentum and gave the KoMets a 38-15 lead with 6:44 left in the game.

Albert Lea scored on the next drive when Tucker Ericksmoen pushed in for a one-yard rush, but it was too late for the Tigers trailing 38-22 with 3:45 remaining.

The Tigers blocked the KoMets punt on their next drive and took over inside enemy territory, but time ran out before the Tigers could score again.

For Albert Lea, it was a case of stellar first and fourth quarter performances with two slow quarters in between.

The Tigers drop to 1-5 on the season and will hit the road Friday to take on the 1-4 Trojans of New Prague.

About Tyler Julson

Tyler Julson covers sports for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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