The Barnum Bombers advanced to the State Tournament quarterfinal game as they used three big plays and one short run to break the Cook County Vikings short-run style of play and spirits, winning the Section Championship by a score of 30-18 at Duluth’s Public School Stadium on Thursday, November 1. Barnum’s defense was not without noting as they shut down a big, strong and fast Peter Warren, who was among the rushing leaders coming into the game.
Daniel Warpula, among the area’s top yardage players, was the first to score and it was on the first Bombers possession. Warpula raced 58 yards and Colton Selix ran for the two points for 8-0. Cook County's Colin Everson was able to score from two yards out., but the two-point conversion failed for 8-6. Barnum burned Cook County on a big pass on a perfect heave by Zac Carlson to hit Selix on stride for a 59-yard shocker and Brandon Newman’s two-point run made it 16-6 to end the first quarter scoring.
Cook County’s spirit had not yet yielded and they scored on a one-yarder by Everson, but again the run for points failed and Barnum was still up 16-12. Newman and then Warpula would combine on a short dive and a long stunner. Newman’s big blockers got enough for him to plow in from a yard out and Newman added the two-point conversion run for 24-12. A 60-yard sprint around the corner and down the sideline broke the Vikings' back before halftime with a very solid 30-6 advantage.
The Vikings were able to get the only score of the second half as once the Bombers held on fourth-and-goal from a yard out. Cook County quarterback Kale Boomer, who spent much of the second half trying to pass and scramble for yards, finally scored in the third quarter for 18-30 as the pass for points failed. It would be the final tally as neither team scored in the fourth quarter.
Cook County did not get a good start as the kick went out of bounds, allowing Barnum to start on the 35. That was followed by too many men on the field. Warpula hit the middle for a couple with Boomer getting the tackle. On the very next play it was Warpula burning the Vikings around the right side as he turned the corner and flew for a 58-yard shocker. Selix ran for the two points and Barnum was already up 8-0 with just 11:12 showing on the clock.
A squibber was covered on the 35. The Vikings got some initial yardage, but a fumble followed and Boomer had to cover. Another fumble occurred and this time it was Selix recovering on the 30 at 10:33.
A run got very little with Everson tackling, but Selix got good yards on the right side. Warpula came up just short for fourth-and-one. Barnum went for it, but Newman was dragged down by Jonny Jacobsen at 8:45 and Cook County took over on downs.
The Vikings went with the shotgun formation and Warren got four. A pitch was stopped back at the line of scrimmage on a great read and tackle by Selix. Warren was stuffed for a loss of one by big but mobile 280-pound Tory Slater. The punt was left alone and as it was a real boomer from the 23 and rolling to the 25 at 6:33.
Barnum took an illegal procedure call and Warpula was thrown for a yard loss by Jacob Shroeder. Carlson threw a nice pass to Selix and it looked like Selix had made a great catch to keep one foot in bounds, but it was correctly ruled he had a toe on the line. The punt was returned to 36 at 5:01.
Warren hit the middle left for four with John Zmyslony making the stop. Warren tried the middle again, but Bomber Brady Youngberg was there. Area sack-leader Zmyslony zipped around and got a sack. A fumble on the left side was rolled on by a Barnum player.
A late whistle on forward progress turned into a fumble being called and the recovery being credited to Warren. From the 12, it was Boomer for four yards on the right. Warren used his head down plowing power to take it to the two and a first down. Everson got the call and went in on the right middle for the two-yard TD. The two-point conversion run failed and Barnum’s lead was cut to 8-6 at 1:56.
A short kick was returned by Warpula to the 41. Barnum and Carlson came out firing. Carlson threw a perfect spiral and hit Selix on stride for a 59-yard stunner. The two-point conversion run by Newman was good and Barnum was up 16-6 at 1:36. Bomber Stephen Swanson’s short kick was turned into a sharp play as a middle row man tossed it back to Boomer for a return to the 45.
Warren was smothered on the right with Swanson leading the charge. A roll right was taken back left and Boomer made a good throw and got a two-feet-planted catch by his receiver for a first at the 31. Warren was stopped by Bomber Sam Anderson. On third-and-four Warren plied the middle and got a first on a six-yard run before Swanson stopped on the 20 at 11:53. Everson went left for a couple and took a pitch right for a few more, but Warren was stuffed on a pitch by Seth Vogt and Anderson for a loss of one at the 15. Warren came right back and got a first to the Bombers’ nine. After Cook County called timeout at 10:28, Warren ran the middle to the five before Jaxon Lind stopped. Warren kept at it and made it third-and-goal with Caleb Forsberg tackling. Warren was stopped in the middle at the one. The Vikings switched it up and went to Everson to get the score from a yard out, but with Barnum's Swanson and others dragging down Thomas Anderson there would be no two-point and Barnum was up 16-12 at 9:11.
What looked like it would a very good return by Newman was tripped up by Boomer at the 43. Selix made a smart run on the right, waiting for his blocks and picking then dashing his way for large yards before Boomer stopped. Warpula got a great gainer to inside the 10 and the Vikings called time at 8:23. Selix went right. Zach Peterson almost got the score as his plunge took it to within a foot of the goal line. After the Vikings were offside once, it was Newman getting the call for the dive and score. Newman went left and dove for goal line and the extra points for a 24-12 lead at 7:02.
Swanson’s squib kick went out of bounds. Soon it was Slater stopping Warren for a third-and-five on the 40. Boomer kept on an option for a first to the 45 at 5:35. Selix took on Warren for a solid stop and a hold moved it back to the 45. The Bombers were gang tackling and Warren went nowhere for second-and-16. Warren was pushed back by more gang tackling and the Vikings suffered a delay of game back to the 33. Selix delivered quite a hit on the right side. Boomer tried to keep, but Anderson was all over it and the Bombers took over on down at the 39 at 3:25.
Warpula wisely waited for some fantastic blocking and then kicked it into overdrive for a sprint down the left side to further stun the Vikings with a 60-yard TD. The pass for two points was overthrown by a couple of feet, but Barnum was now riding a 30-12 lead at 3:02.
A squib kick went to Boomer on the 40. Cook County was able to put together two first downs to the Bombers' 40. Selix almost had a free ticket as he had excellent coverage on Mark Marxen in the left corner. Boomer was thrown for a sack by Zmyslony and Cook County called time at 10.7 looking at fourth-and-18 from the Bombers' 30. Vogt was covering on a pass that went in and out of Marxen’s hands at the 5.
As the Bombers were up 30-12 they were content to take a knee and head in with a fairly solid 30-12 lead.
Neither team was able to score on their initial possessions of the third quarter. Cook County sustained a drive from the 23 at 6:53 and had first downs at 5:58 and about five minutes and 3:10. The drive culminated in a Boomer run from two yards out but with the two-point pass dropped, it was 30-18 at 2:18.
An intercepted pass, intended for Vogt, stopped one Barnum drive and it stayed 30-18.
In the fourth quarter, Cook County drove the field, but from eight yards and on fourth-and-goal, the Barnum bunch had an impressive stand as Boomer came up short by a foot from paydirt. There would be no scoring in the fourth frame as many Barnum reserves and some Vikings second squaders got to see some time.
As important, perhaps even more so, was what didn’t show up on the board — Barnum’s ability to shut Warren out of scoring. It was Warren who recently had set the new Minnesota record of most touchdowns in a game with eight. He probably got only about 80-100 yards against the Bombers' stiff defense. It was only Cook County's second loss of the season, with the first loss also to the Bombers at Grand Marais back on September 14.
As good as 9-2 and Polar division Barnum is on both sides of the ball, they will have to play another outstanding offensive and defensive game to be able to handle number one-ranked and undefeated Mahnomen. That shootout will be at Duluth’s Public School Stadium on Saturday, November 10 at noon.