Senior AJ Wesloh broke off one long scoring run after another as Princeton football stayed on track with a 27-23 victory at St. Francis Oct. 4.
Wesloh’s first touchdown came on a 51-yard run in the second quarter which gave the Tigers a 14-7 lead at the half. His second came on the first play of the fourth quarter when he ripped off 71 yards to make it 21-7. The Saints pulled to within a touchdown on their next possession, but Wesloh took the next Tiger handoff 68 yards to pay dirt.
For the night, Wesloh finished with 278 yards on 18 carries for the 4-2 Tigers.
“As far as we know, AJ broke the team single game rushing record with the 278 yards. One scoring play was a sweep, and the other two were ISO type plays,” said Tiger Coach Roy Hanenburg. “We split Billy McClay out wide, and St. Francis had to bring a safety out to help cover, leaving one less person in the box to block. Good blocking and a quick runningback leads to touchdowns.”
The Mississippi 8 game began with the Princeton defense forcing a punt, then the offense drove 58 yards on seven plays, with Cole Warren blasting in from the 2 for a 7-0 lead. Three minutes into the second quarter, the Saints tied it when Max Gust scored on a 51-yard run; Gust went on to lead the Saints with 142 rushing yards.
A fumble on that kickoff set up the Saints on the Princeton 31, but the Tiger defense held to force a punt.
After Wesloh’s hat trick TD had Princeton ahead 27-14 with 10:36 to go, the game was far from over. The Saints used a fake punt to keep alive the next drive, and they scored on a 13-yard reception by 6’8” Jake Johnson to pull within 27-21.
The Tigers then went three-and-out, and St. Francis looked they were driving to win or at least tie when the Princeton defense stopped them on downs at the 8 yard line with 1:21 to play.
“They ran a counter play, and Cole Warren and Cam Paulson read the play and dropped them for a loss,” said Coach Hanenburg. “Billy McClay and Andrew Albright did a great job on the 6’8” Johnson to limit his catches. Safety Tanner Palmberg also did an excellent job helping out on the run from his safety position.”
The Saints stayed alive by stopping the clock and the Tigers deep in that end. Princeton elected to take a safety since the Saints came close to blocking an earlier punt. St. Francis then had one last-ditch effort, but Devon Budreau made a nice jump-ball interception at the 49 after D-end Joey Stenslie applied pressure on the Saints’ QB.
Next up: The Tigers get their final M-8 Red Division game at home against North Branch Oct. 11. The regular season closer then will be at Cambridge-Isanti on Wednesday, Oct. 16. Monticello travels to Chisago Lakes Oct. 11 for the Red Division title bout.
Two victories would be huge for Princeton’s seeding position for the upcoming 7AAAA playoffs. Hermantown (5-1), the Tigers (4-2) and Cloquet (5-1) are stacked at the top of the section heading into this week.
Princeton 27, St. Francis 23
First Downs 10 14
Rushing 37/312 36/175
Passing 11/4/0 20/8/1
Passing Yds 62 88
Total Yds 374 263
Tiger Individual Stats: Rushing: Wesloh 18/278, 3 TD; Warren 6/22, TD; Dahlheimer 6/21, Archer 6/-2. Passing: Archer 11/4/0- 62 yds. Receiving: McClay 2/38; Green 1/13; Palmborg 1/11.
Mississippi 8 Football: Red Div.: Chisago Lakes 4-0, 5-1; Monticello 3-0, 4-2; Princeton 2-2, 4-2; North Branch 1-2, 2-4; Big Lake 1-3, 1-5; Duluth Denfeld 0-4, 0-6. Blue Div.: Rogers 4-0, 6-0; St. Michael-Alb. 3-0, 6-0; Cambridge-Isanti 2-2, 4-2; St. Francis 2-2, 3-3; Buffalo 0-3, 1-5; Duluth East 0-4, 0-6.