Princeton built a 21-point lead and was just able to make just enough plays to beat Milaca in the first ever Pizza Bowl 35-28, in front of a packed house on Friday, Sep. 6 at John Harvey Field.
Senior quarterback Jack Slipy was ecstatic after winning the first match-up between the two since 2011. “This feel amazing, we struggled for three years, it feels good to win,” said Slipy. In what was advertised as new life into an old football rivalry, the game did not disappoint as the Pizza Bowl had plenty of big plays and drama to keep the fans on the edge of their seats from kickoff until the clock stuck zero.
The Tigers were able to strike first in this affair as they took a 7-0 lead after a 4-yard run by Cole Carlson. It would become a theme of the night, as Carlson was able to run for 219 yards with three touchdowns on the night.
After a punt by the Wolves, Princeton was looking for more when Tigers quarterback, Slipy was picked off by senior Logan Molacek, who was able to return the interception 74-yards for a Milaca touchdown evening the game at 7-7.
“My quarterback coach told me to forget about it, and I did,” said Slipy on his bounce-back performance from the pick-six. Slipy was able to go on to throw two touchdowns.
After another Carlson touchdown, and a missed extra point, Princeton took a 13-7 lead with 3:33 left in the first half. The Wolves would respond with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Braden Hardy to Henry Truebenbach, giving Milaca the 14-13 lead heading into the half.
After entering the half down by one point, the Tigers would come out firing outscoring the Wolves 21-0 in the third quarter. “We knew that that first half wasn’t us, we came out flat,” said Princeton head coach Ryan Fay. “I loved the resilience we were able to come back from halftime with, we really talked about performing at the level we can, and that third quarter, we showed that,” continued Fay.
Entering the fourth quarter, the game seemed all but over before Milaca was able to get its offense rolling scoring two quick touchdowns on the back of Hardy, who ran for a 20-yard touchdown and tossed another to Molacek for 25-yards.
“We just kept reminding ourselves that no matter the score, we still were in the game,” said Hardy.
The two quick touchdowns set up an onside kick attempt for the Wolves, but it failed to be recovered as Princeton was able to run out the clock sealing the victory for the home team.
Milaca coach Kevin Armbrust was disappointed with the loss, but believes this is a step in the right direction for the team. “We are continuing to establish our football team, regardless of the score we won’t quit,” explained Armbrust.
The Tigers will walk away with the coveted Pizza Paddle trophy, bragging rights for its hard -fought win over Milaca.
The two teams plan to meet again next year with the trophy on the line again.
The win moves Princeton to 1-1 with a match-up against ranked Dassel-Cokato on the horizon, in what will be a good test for the Tiger squad. Milaca falls to 0-2 and will face winless Little Falls on Sep. 13, in what will be homecoming for the Wolves.
Princeton 35 Milaca 28,
Milaca 7 7 0 14 - 28
Princeton 7 6 22 0 - 35
p - Cole Carlson 4 yard run (Zachary Marshall kick)
m - Logan Molacek 74 yard int-return (Bodee Zens kick)
p - Cole Carlson 7 yard run
m - Braden Hardy pass to Henry Truebenbach 20 yard (Bodee Zens kick)
P - Cole Carson 85 run (Carson 2-pt run good)
P - Jack Slipy pass to Lukas Backlund 43 yard (Zachary Marshall kick)
P - Jack Slipy pass to Colton Malecha 17 yards (Zachary Marshall kick)
m - Braden Hardy 18 yard run (Bodee Zens kick)
m - Braden Hardy pass to Logan Molacek 25 yards (Bodee Zens kick)
m - Hardy 12-69; P - Carlson 30-219.
m - Hardy 10-16-2-157; P - Slipy 4-10-2 84.
m - Truebenbach 5-111; P - Lukas Backlund 2-55.