When Stillwater saw the lead slip away from him three times in less than three minutes in the third quarter, he didn’t hang his head. It remained stable.
And the young ponies came through in crucial moments in the fourth quarter.
Emilio Rosario Matias scored on a 21-yard midfield, Nick Kinsey was captivating with late third-down conversions before finding Tanner Schmidt on a 23-yard strike with 4:11 left, and the Ponies beat Woodbury on Thursday with 28:25 Royals Stadium in Woodbury.
Kinsey threw for 343 yards and Joe Hoheisel caught 11 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns for Stillwater (1-1).
“Electric, exciting, definitely gritty and a team win,” Kinsey said.
Kinsey, a sophomore who took over for current Gopher Max Shikenjanski, was 28 of 48 with four touchdowns.
“His arm is unbelievable,” Hoheisel said. “After Max, we didn’t know what we were going to get, but he came here and really helped the program. “It’s wonderful to see him here and I’m glad I can have him for my senior year.”
Kinsey was at his best in the clutch.
With 21:17 and 8:26 minutes left to play, the ponies started a winning streak. Kinsey scored four times on third-period throws, including 20- and 35-yard connections with Hoheisel, as the Ponies consumed yards and time off the clock.
“We knew we were going to go down and score,” Kinsey said of the four-minute-plus drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Schmidt from an inside slant. On third down.
George Bjellos scored for Woodbury with 12 seconds left, but Stillwater recovered the onside kick.
“We played hard but were outmatched all night,” Woodbury coach Andy Hill said.
Lady Luck wore the home blue for parts of the third quarter.
With the score 17-3, Charlie Jacobson had an 87-yard touchdown reception that went through the hands of a defender and bounced to the Woodbury senior at midfield, who made his way into the end zone. The score dropped four plays after Stillwater lost a fumble on the Royals’ third down.
On the ensuing Stillwater drive, Kinsey’s second-down throw went through the hands of a receiver and into the hands of Quentin Cobb-Butler, who was able to intercept it. Three plays later, Liam Frommelt fell on a Woodbury fumble to keep a drive alive. Isaiah Tisdale hit a three-pointer on the next play for a 21-17 lead.
“We’re young and inexperienced, so we’ve never experienced this before, but we learned from our leaders on the team that we just have to stay calm,” Hoheisel said.
In the first week, Lakeville North’s ponies were soundly beaten. Coach Beau LaBore said team focus and composure were among the key points over the last seven days.
“Last week we looked very young and inexperienced. Tonight they look like they’ve been in some battles. Looks like they grew up pretty quickly. When three plays literally slip through your fingers and slip into the others, you dig deep into your pockets and keep playing football, it’s very rewarding.
“You have to love it when the guys get excited about making the next play and not focus on close plays that don’t go the way you want them to, it’s a shame.”
After a slow start, Kinsey skillfully ran the Ponies’ rhythmic passing game, completing all eight passes in a nine-play second quarter drive that went 75 yards and culminated in an 8-yard snag by Hoheisel in the corner end zone. The only pass on the drive of 11 yards was a 32-yard completion to Schmidt.
Cobb-Butler hit a 34-yard field goal to bring the Royals to 7-3 at halftime.
https://www.twincities.com/2023/09/07/nick-kinsey-stillwater-clutch-late-to-beat-woodbury-28-25/ Nick Kinsey and Stillwater beat Woodbury late 28-25 – Twin Cities