Nov. 4—STILLWATER — The odds were heavily stacked against the Mayo football team Friday night.
Despite that, the Spartans threatened all evening to pull off a major upset in the second round of the Class 6A football playoffs.
Mayo was the No. 5 seed in its game with Stillwater, the Ponies the top seed. Also stacked against the Spartans was that a bunch of their players were missing due to injuries.
Mayo still almost made up for all of it before finally being overcome in the fourth quarter and losing 49-31.
The Spartans, who'd been moved up from Class 5A to 6A this season for the first time, finished 4-6 overall. Stillwater is now 8-2.
"I am extremely proud of our kids with what they were forced to go through," said Mayo coach Donny Holcomb, whose team had advanced to state in consecutive seasons before making the jump this year to 6A. "Something that most people don't know is we were without our starting running back tonight, our top backup, a starting cornerback, a starting linebacker, another starting linebacker and a starting offensive tackle. We had six sophomores and a freshman playing a bunch tonight. You just don't see teams doing that in Class 6A."
Behind another stellar night from quarterback Rees Grimsrud, the Spartans still almost made everything work. Grimsrud finished 22-for-40 passing for 346 yards and four touchdowns.
Top pass catchers were Max Durgan (134 yards receiving and a touchdown), Carter Holcomb (65 yards and three touchdown), James Mankaka (60 yards), Calder Sheehan (42 yards), Lucas Peterson (23 yards) and Spencer Kober (20 yards).
Durgan is just a sophomore.
"He is our next great receiver coming up," Donny Holcomb said. "He's got great hands and runs good routes."
Grimsrud had his massive night despite being under heavy pressure from Stillwater's pass rush all game.
The senior helped the Spartans build a 24-14 halftime lead. He did it despite Mayo having trouble running the ball all game. It finished with just 3-yards rushing, as Grimsrud was hit with a negative-49 yards rushing due to being sacked so many times.
"Reese is an excellent leader and competitor," Donny Holcomb said. "He had guys in his face all night, and he was still making plays. He took hits all game and he just kept coming back, throwing."
Holcomb noted that Grimsrud finished his season with nearly 2,200 passing yards, one of the top handful of marks in the state.
It was the fourth quarter especially when Mayo faltered. Stillwater used the frame to outscore the underdog Spartans 28-0. Mayo had entered those final 12 minutes on top 31-21.
"Offensively, Stillwater ran the ball really well in the fourth quarter," Holcomb said. "And we couldn't protect our quarterback in the second half. But you've got to give Stillwater a ton of credit. They deserved to win."
Stillwater 49, Mayo 31
Mayo 3-21-7-0 — 31
Stillwater 14-0-7-28 — 49
S — T. Schmidt 15 pass from N. Kinsey (Huber kick)
M — Ethan Post 29 field goal
S — J. Hoheesel 85 pass from N. Kinsey (Huber kick)
M — Carter Holcomb 5 pass from Reese Grimsrud (Post kick)
M — Aaren Grabau 24 pass from Grimsrud (Post kick)
M — Holcomb 30 pass from Grimsrud (Post kick)
S — H. Thury 35 pass from N. Kinsey (Huber kick)
M — Lucas Peterson 7 pass from Grimsrud (Post kick)
S — T. Schmidt 24 pass rom N. Kinsey (Huber kick)
S — E. Rosario Matias 22 run (Huber kick)
S — E. Rosario Matias 66 run (Huber kick)
S — E. Rosario Matias 2 run (Huber kick)