The regular season came to a close last Wednesday night at Haddorff Field as Mound Westonka defeated Benilde-St. Margaret’s 42-34 in a 4A Skyway District football game. The White Hawks were led by their “big three” on offense as QB Cole Drill, WR Max Kraay, and RB Ray Beiningen combined for 351 yards. Linebacker Roman Larsen led the defense with a career-high 10 tackles, while defensive lineman Drake Woodruff had 9 tackles (7 solo) and 2 sacks.
Westonka (7-1) employed a bend-but-don’t-break defense allowing 503 yards to the Red Knights, but were able to force two turnovers and two turnover-on-downs. The White Hawks took the opening kickoff and drove 89 yards in 6 1/2 minutes. Beiningen carried six times for 39 yards on the opening possession, while Joe Sluka had a big 16-yard first-down run. Drill would take it in from 3 yards out and give Westonka a 7-0 lead.
The Red Knights and quarterback Nirvaan Yogaraja would strike next, just five seconds into the 2nd quarter when he hit Luke Guggenberger for a 15-yard score. On the ensuing kickoff, Westonka kick returner JT Kimbrough ran it back 54 yards down to the BSM 36-yard line. Beiningen would run for 15 yards and Drill would find Kraay for another 15 yards before Beiningen would crash through for a 6-yard TD run. The drive took 1:39 off the clock giving the White Hawks a 14-7 advantage after Sam Gaylord’s extra point.
Westonka’s defense would stop Benilde on 4th down from the White Hawks 41-yard line giving Westonka good field position. An initial first down by the White Hawks moved the ball into BSM territory, but Beiningen would lose a fumble for just the second time all season, giving the ball back to the Red Knights at the BSM 28-yard line. RB Sean Washington scampered for 36 yards on first down. Then, Yogaraja threw to Khalif Brown across the middle of the field on a crossing route to Khalif Brown, but as he turned up field, Westonka’s Dylan Sloan pounded the ball out from behind allowing safety Jack Nelson to fall on the ball at the White Hawks 13-yard line. “Dylan Sloan has been making big play after big play all season long. He just has a motor that doesn’t stop. The fumble he forced could not have come at a better time as BSM was driving,” said Head Coach Nick David.
Four plays later, Drill lofted a pass to Kraay down the left sideline for a 51-yard gain down to the BSM 12-yard line. Beiningen took the read option handoff off right tackle nearly untouched for a 12-yard TD and a 20-7 lead with 2:48 remaining in the first half. BSM would come right back, however and score a touchdown on the last play of the half. Yogaraja started to roll left but was pressured by linebacker Carter Kleinsasser. He then scrambled, stopped, and threw a jump pass across the middle of the end zone to Guggenberger for a 2-yard TD. “Hats off to the BSM QB on that play. We felt that we had pretty tight coverage across the board and we had gotten a lot of pressure. He just made a great play,” stated David.
The second half saw even more scoring as the Red Knights took a 21-20 lead just under two minutes into the 3rd quarter on a Yogaraja 3-yard run. Westonka would score on back-to-back drives in the 3rd quarter. The first touchdown saw Drill find Kraay on a 27-yard back-shoulder throw just inside the right pylon. Then, following a BSM punt, Beiningen would create a hole up the middle for a 1-yard TD plunge and a 35-21 lead. Yogaraja would hit Guggenberger for a third time on a 20-yard TD pass, but the extra point was missed giving the White Hawks an 8-point advantage.
Beiningen would add a fourth rushing touchdown with 4:40 to play in the game as he barely broke the plane of the goal line as he dove across while being dragged down from behind. Gaylord’s extra point created some breathing room at 42-27. The Red Knights were not done, however. Yogaraja dumped a screen pass to Washington that saw him stay just in bounds down the right sideline for a big 37-yard completion. Westonka safety Owen McCue saved a touchdown on the play by tracking him down at the White Hawks 21-yard line. A pass interference penalty on the next play put BSM in the red zone and two plays later Yogaraja would scramble to his right and score from 8 yards out. “BSM is a really tough team to prepare for with only two practices (short week due to the MEA Break / Wednesday night game). They had a great game plan for us and we just could not get off the field on defense. We definitely have some things we need to address as we head into the playoffs,” said David. The onside kick was recovered by the White Hawks but Drill would throw an incomplete pass on 4th down at the BSM 36-yard line with about 90 seconds to play in the game. Three completions saw the Red Knights move into Westonka territory but linebacker Cole Munsterteiger would step in front of a Yogaraja pass along the right sideline to seal the victory.
Drill would finish the night completing 8-of-10 passes for 142 yards with seven of the passes going to Kraay for 119 yards. Beiningen would finish with 178 yards on the ground with Drill contributing 54 yards rushing. Defensively, cornerback Brandt Tebbs had 8 tackles (5 solo) and broke up one pass attempt. Nelson (2 FR) and Sloan (1 sack) both had 6 tackles, while Kimbrough had 2 pass breakups.
As the #2 seed in Section 6AAAA, the White Hawks will host either #3 seed Delano or #6 seed Big Lake at Haddorff Field on Saturday (10/28) at 1 p.m in a Section 6AAAA Semifinal matchup.