Waconia Football - McEnelly

Waconia running back Max McEnelly scored twice, rushing for 148 yards in the fourth quarter as the Wildcats rallied for a 22-12 win over Chanhassen.

When Josh Kirchoff recovered a fumble in the end zone, on offense, extending the lead to 12-0 in the fourth quarter, it felt like a bit more comfortable for third-seeded Chanhassen in the Section 2AAAAA quarterfinals.

And why not? Through seven quarters, or 84 minutes of play against Waconia, first in the regular season, and then in the playoffs, the Storm had held the Wildcats to zero points.

Holding running back Max McEnelly to 44 yards rushing through three quarters, the Waconia multi-time state wrestling champion exploded over the last 10 minutes, scoring twice, adding an interception on defense as the Wildcats scored 22 unanswered points in an upset win on Oct. 26.

McEnelly accounted for 148 of Waconia's 155 yards in the fourth quarter.

The Wildcats had just 55 yards of total offense through the first 36 minutes.

McEnelly nearly doubled his production on the opening play of Waconia's first fourth quarter drive, a 40-yard run into Storm territory. Outside of a 15-yard facemask penalty, it was all McEnelly, 51 yards on the ground, the final 10 on a run up the middle to draw Waconia within 12-7 with 7:38 to play.

Chanhassen, running exclusively out of the Wildcat formation, receiver Charlie Coenen taking the direct snap, picked up two first downs, arriving in Waconia territory before being forced to punt.

Pinned at the 10-yard line by Storm punter Will Schleicher, Waconia needed a big play to get out of their own zone. On 3rd-and-3, McEnelly went left, a Chanhassen defender falling, no other player in the vicinity, an 83-yard score to the house.

A 13-12 Wildcat lead that was extended to 15-12 on a converted 2-point conversion by McEnelly.

With 2:47 on the clock, two timeouts, heading into a strong wind, Chanhassen's second play of the drive, a throw over the middle, hit McEnelly in the bread basket, a return to the 14-yard line.

Three players later, McEnelly taking the snap, handing the ball to Alex Riley in the opposite direction, went for seven yards and a game-clinching touchdown. A 22-12 win for Waconia.

Chanhassen's final two drives saw five incomplete passes -- four hitting receivers' hands -- and the interception.

The Storm complete the 2021 season with a 6-3 record.

Chanhassen led 6-0 at halftime on a late first-half throw from Grant Muffenbier to Josh och for 18 yards with 10 seconds on the clock.

The Storm's first three drive reached Waconia territory, including a turnover on downs inside the 2-yard line and a missed field goal after Chanhassen started on the Wildcat 26-yard line following a short punt.

A fourth drive was stopped on a short fourth-down run from the Waconia 10.

Chanhassen also had a punt blocked in Wildcat territory near midfield in the third quarter.

Muffenbier completed just 5-of-21 passes for 94 yards, 68 of that going to Och. Chanhassen did rush for 215 yards with Coenen and Maxwell Woods leading the way with 80 and 75 yards, respectively.

Dylan Kendrick (interception), Sam Macy (forced fumble), Gabe Porthan (eight tackles), and Alex Carstens (seven tackles) were Storm defensive leaders.

Waconia was just 1-of-9 passing for 18 yards. McEnelly was credited with 18 tackles, a sack and two tackles for a loss with Owen Amrhein also intercepting a pass in the third quarter.

Waconia (4-5) will face Chaska (8-0) in the section semifinals at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 30, at Chaska High School. The Hawks defeated the Wildcats 7-0 on a last-minute touchdown in the regular season.

New Prague (7-2), with its first playoff win since 2012, a 34-21 decision over Mankato East, heads to top seed Mankato West (8-0) on Saturday as well.