Their staunch defense won the night for the Beckman football team Oct. 29. The Blazers took out West Branch, 24-7, to advance to the quarterfinal round Nov. 5 against a familiar foe, MFL MarMac, upset winners over Iowa City Regina, 21-7.

Not only did the Blazers pluck two Carver Boelk passes from the air, but they also sat on Bears’ leading rusher Andy Henson, holding him to a mere 43 yards on 13 carries, a shadow of his 132-yards-per-game average.

At the same time, Blazer leading rusher Owen Huehnergarth was running pretty much at will, gaining 227 yards on 34 carries. The over-balance helped the Blazers clinch a win over the Bears that was four years in the making. Each of the past three, the Bears prevailed.

But with two evenly-matched teams, the advantage wasn’t easily gained. Not until the final two minutes of the second quarter did the Blazers reach paydirt, with a seven-play series ending on a Huehnergarth one-yard plunge. Logan Burchard, who had missed a short field goal in the first quarter, redeemed that with the extra-point kick and they were on their way, 7-0.

The first interception came just three plays later when Burchard grabbed a pass at their own 23 to start the Blazer drive. This one ended .6 before halftime with Burchard’s made field goal, 10-0.

The Bears began the second half with the ball, took an unsportsmanlike penalty flag for behavior following a big 47-yard pass play before being picked off again, this time by Lane Kramer deep in Blazer territory. They took over at the Blazer nine and gave the ball back to Huehnergarth, who gained with runs of three, 20, seven and 18 before a false start flag stole five back. Cayden Gassmann got the next 10 yards and Huehnergarth six before Gassmann found Eric Heinrichs open for a 38-yard scoring catch and a 17-0 lead.

With the next Bears possession, they went pass-heavy and converted often enough to reach the red zone in nine plays, capping it with a Peyton Miller run of seven to make it 17-7.

A repeat of the last possession by the Blazers ended again with a Gassmann-to-Heinrichs TD pass, this time 11 yards, for a 24-7 lead with 6:44 left on the clock.

The Bears saw three passes on the next series fall incomplete as the Blazers ramped up their coverage. A final fourth-down run of six yards by Shae Farmer wasn’t enough and the Blazers took over on downs at midfield, helping to run down the clock before punting. Again the Bears went to the air, again they saw passes fall safely to the turf and the time ran out on another fourth-down conversion attempt that fell short. A couple of knees taken by Gassmann and the game was theirs.

Coach Mark Atwater glowed. “It was a great night to get back at a team that has had our number the last couple of years. We have played them multiple times and just weren’t able to knock them off. This time, I felt our team was focused all week and ready for the opportunity.

“Our defense stepped up in the big situations and got the stops we needed when we needed them. They have carried us throughout the season.

“I’m proud of the effort, preparation, and, most of all, the focus this group has. It has shown up in the biggest games. We will need that again this week for a good MFL team we know very well.”

Blazer individual stats include: passing — Gassmann 9-of-15 for 133 yards and two TDs; receiving — Heinrichs 3-for-60, two TDs, Padraig Gallagher 1-for-27, Conner Grover 2-for-25, Max Mullis 3-for-21; rushing — Huehnergarth 34-for-227, one TD, Gassmann 3-for-57, Schieltz 1-for-46, Mullis 1-for-3, Nick Wulfekuhle 1-for-2; kick returns — Eli Kluesner 1-for-16, Schieltz 1-for-13; kicking — Burchard 4-for-229, two touchbacks; 3-of-3 PATs, 1-of-2 field goals; Mullis three punts for 117 yards; tackles — Grover seven (six solos), Oakley Harbaugh 6.5 (five), Ben Lueck five (four, 0.5 for loss), Elliot Naughton and Schieltz four (three), Huehnergarth three (three, one), Wulfekuhle 2.5 (two, 1.5), Burchard and Mullis two (two), Gassmann two (one), Ty Fangman, Jason Koopman and Kramer one (one), Lucas Boge one (0.5), Wyatt Schulte 0.5 (0.5) and Gavin Davis 0.5; interceptions — Kramer and Burchard.