Medford quarterback Willie VonRuden saved the best for last in his return to the field Tuesday night, leading Medford to three touchdown drives in the final stanza and a 27-13 win versus St. Clair/Loyola in Mankato. With the win, the Tigers will face Maple River in Mapleton Saturday night at 7 pm with the broadcast on The Mighty 920 KDHL.

VonRuden has missed the last several games and Medford had been shutout in the final two games of the regular season. On Tuesday, the Tigers offense took a while to develop some rhythm. They went three-and-out on three of their four drives in the first half. On the one drive they did move the ball, a fumble turned the ball over to the Spartans.

Trailing 7-0 at the half, Medford got the opening kick off of the second half and quickly punted again. After forcing St. Clair/Loyola to punt, the Tigers started at their own 46-yard line and VonRuden began to take over the game. He ran for a weaving, 23-yard touchdown run right after a 20-yard scamper. That evened the game at 7-7 with about seven minutes to go in the third quarter.

The teams traded punts and the Spartans were forced to start a drive at their own 11-yard line after a nice boot by Jack Paulson of the Tigers. St. Clair/Loyola's elusive quarterback bounced out of a possible tackle and took the ball the distance on the first play to put the Spartans up 13-7 with under a minute to play in the third.

The Tigers scored the next three times they had the ball.

After the Spartans tried an onside kick, the Tigers started at the St. Clair/Loyola 49. A few plays later VonRuden connected with Josiah Hedensten who leaped high in the air and came down hard on his back with the ball in the end zone with 10:10 remaining. He remained on a ground for a couple of minutes but was able to return. Jacob Andrews hit the extra point for the Tigers' first lead of the game at 14-13.

After forcing another Spartans' punt, Medford drove 60 yards in four plays with VonRuden dashing the final 40 for a 21-13 lead with six minutes left. Then St. Clair/Loyola lost the ball on downs at their own 29. Jarone Chavis iced the game with a 15-yard touchdown carry with 1:08 to play.

The win is Medford's first playoff victory since 2013.

Catch the Garage Force of Faribault "Football Blitz" on Kat Kountry 105 Saturday at 9:30 pm.



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