St. Francis Ends Victoria's Season in D-2 Semis

Victoria played St. Francis in the semifinals of the 8-Man Division II playoffs on Friday, Nov. 20 in Victoria. (Photo courtesy Mike Blanke.)
Victoria played St. Francis in the semifinals of the 8-Man Division II playoffs on Friday, Nov. 20 in Victoria. (Photo courtesy Mike Blanke.)

VICTORIA-Shadryon Blanka rushed for 238 yards and three touchdowns and added a receiving score as the #1-ranked St. Francis Indians pulled away from #3 Victoria 44-22 Friday evening in the 8-Man Division ll Semifinals.

St. Francis took the opening kickoff and scored 75 seconds into the contest when Blanka raced 38 yards up the far sideline for his first touchdown giving the Indians an 8-0 lead after the two-point conversion.  After being stopped on their first possession, the Knights defense got a stop of their own on the Indians' next series and then junior Quarterback Grant Schoenrock scored on a 42-yard run to draw the Knights to within 8-6 after the two-point play failed.  The points were the first given up in the postseason by St. Francis after the Indians had shut out their three previous opponents.

Victoria's defense got another stop of St. Francis and then the Knights went in front early in the second quarter on Carson Werth's two-yard run and the lead was 14-8 after the successful two-point conversion.  Victoria then had an opportunity to extend its lead slip through its hands when Blanka appeared to be sacked on a fourth down play at midfield.  However, the 205-pound senior got away from the grasp of Seth Schwien and raced 25-yards for a first down.  Two plays later Quarterback Ben Busse tossed a 21-yard touchdown pass to Kobe Tice and St. Francis was back in front 16-14 after the two-point play.  The Indians added a tally just before halftime when Busse and Blanka connected for an 11-yard scoring pass to give them a 22-14 advantage at intermission.

The Knights had a chance to potentially tie the score again on their opening drive of the second half.  Facing a fourth and three from the St. Francis six-yard line, a fumble on a handoff caused Victoria to turn the ball over on downs and Sainty took advantage.  Blanka scored one touchdown in the third quarter and another in the fourth stanza on runs of 12 and three yards respectively to swell the St. Francis lead to 36-14.  Adam Krien then scampered 28 yards for a touchdown with just under two minutes remaining to make the score 44-14.

Victoria picked up their final touchdown of the 2020 season when Schoenrock found Lucas Klein for a 13-yard touchdown pass with 14 seconds left in the game to provide the final margin of 44-22.

St. Francis (11-0) accounted for 316 of their 373 total yards on the ground.  The Indians defense which has pitched six shutouts this season held Victoria to 152 yards rushing and 264 yards of total offense while forcing two turnovers.  Jayvon Pruitt led all Victoria rushers with 17 carries for 79 yards.

Victoria (11-1) was back in the Semifinals for the first time since winning their most recent of their seven state championships in 2015.  The Knights lost a home playoff game for the first time since Otis-Bison defeated them in the second round of the 2011 playoffs and they also saw their 35-game Division ll winning streak snapped with their first defeat since falling to Central Plains in the 2014 season opener.

St. Francis advances to their third title game in the last five years and is seeking its first championship.  The Indians lost to Osborne in the 2016 Division l Championship game and then last year in the D-l Final, they lost to Canton-Galva 66-36 after leading 36-0 in the first half.  The Indians will face #2-ranked Hanover in the title game on November 28 in Newton.  The Wildcats routed Twin Valley League rival and fourth-ranked Frankfort 74-26 in Friday's other Semifinal.