Packers grind it out for 36-35 win

Published 11:16 pm Friday, October 12, 2018

MANKATO – With a lot of grinding and a little bit of trickery, the Austin football team was able to overcome the odds and pull off an improbable come-from-behind win in Mankato East (2-5 overall) Friday night.

The Packers trailed by 16 points in the fourth quarter, but they rallied to beat the Cougars 36-35.

Austin (2-5 overall) took the lead for good when Gavin Owens hauled in his second touchdown pass of the night on a trick play where wide receiver Andrew Schumacher took an end-around and threw to Owens on stride for a 32-yard strike. Schumacher would hit the extra point to put Austin up 36-35 with 1:40 left in the game.

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“We’ve been working on that play quite a bit. I knew right when we called that play that it was going to be a touchdown,” Owens said. “This is going to be one of my favorite memories. We played a great game in the fourth quarter. Our team never gives up and we never stop believing. We knew we could win the game and we just had to focus one play at a time. We did it and it was awesome.”

Austin wide receiver Gavin Owens goes up to haul in a pass in the first half against Mankato East in Mankato Friday. Owens eventually hauled in the game-winning score as the Packers made up a 16-point fourth quarter deficit. Rocky Hulne/

Austin had recovered an on-side kick prior to Owens’ go-ahead score. He also hauled in a six-yard TD from Nate Murphy to pull Austin within 35-29 with 3:26 left. That drive took 14 plays and it featured some big runs by Andrew Chesak, who racked up 125 yards on the ground, while also anchoring the defense.

“We weren’t looking at the scoreboard, we just kept trying to play our hardest,” Chesak said. “I’m going to be a little sore tomorrow, but I had a fun today.”

Austin head coach Brett Vesel had to make a tough decision early in the fourth quarter when he had Schumacher kick a 24-yard field goal to bring Austin within 35-22 with 9:22 left in the game. That score made it a two-possession game and it fueled the Packers to a dominant performance in the fourth quarter.

Sam Hagen carries the ball for the Packers in Mankato East Friday. Rocky Hulne/

“It can happen,” Vesel said of the comeback. “We got the field goal and that got us within two scores. We knew we needed something there. We just had to hope the kids would make plays and they made plays. It was awesome.”

Chesak clinched the victory in the closing seconds when he pulled in an interception. Vesel credited him for stepping up on both sides of the ball.

“Andy really stepped up on the offensive side tonight,” Vesel said. “Defensively he’s been a player for us all year and it was tough for us tonight with Joe Seeman being hurt and Hunter Guyette not being here.”

Austin’s Nick Dunlap wraps up Mankato East quarterback Riley Gruens in Mankato Friday. Rocky Hulne/


Austin   7  6  6     17  –  36

East 14  7  14  0     –  35

First quarter

(M) Carter Dahl 5 run (Osman kick) (8 plays, 87 yards) 6:49

(M) Riley Gruens 1 run (Osman kick) (1 plays, 80 yards) 4:22

(A) Andrew Schumacher 80 kick return (Schumacher kick) (1 play, 80 yards) 4:22

Second quarter

(ME) Jaeden Froelich 35 interception return (Osman kick) (1 play, 35 yards) 10:36

(A) Andrew Chesak 6 run (kick failed) (16 plays, 80 yards) :17.6

Third quarter

(ME) Gruens 7 run (Osman kick) (5 plays, 56 yards) 9:11

(A) Nate Murphy 16 run (run failed) (8 plays, 62 yards) 6:39

(ME) Ryan Kuechle 16 pass from Gruens (Osman kick) (3 plays, 24 yards) 1:24

Fourth quarter

(A) Schumacher 24 field goal (11 plays, 43 yards) 9:22

(A) Gavin Owens 6 pass from Murphy (14 plays, 78 yards) (Schumacher kick) 3:26

(A) Owens 32 pass from Schumacher (Schumacher kick) (6 plays, 44 yards) 1:40


Rushing: Nate Murphy, 24-for-129, TD; Andrew Chesak, 27-for-125, TD; Schumacher, 1-for-36; Sam Hagen, 10-for-34

Passing: Murphy, 11-for-24, 129, TD, 3 INT; Schumacher, 1-for-1, 32, TD

Receiving: Gavin Owens, 5-for-86, TD; Connor Byram, 6-for-52; Schumacher, 1-for-10

Defense: Chesak, 1 interception; Thomas Kroymann, 1 fumble receovery; Emanuel Younis, 1 fumble recovery

Penalties: 3-for-20


Rushing: 192

Passing: 96

Penalties: 2-for-25