CANNON FALLS -- Stewartville marched inside the Bombers' 10-yard line three times during Tuesday's Section 1AAA tournament game at John Burch Park and Cannon Falls prevented the Tigers from scoring each time.
The Bombers forced a pair of turnovers on downs and Stewartville missed a field goal as Cannon Falls, the No. 2 seed, escaped with a 10-0 victory. Cannon Falls advanced to Saturday's semifinals where it will play host to No. 3 Plainview-Elgin-Millville.
Cannon Falls held No. 7 Stewartville to 171 yards of total offense on 51 plays. The Bombers also picked off three passes and recovered a fumble.
Joey Van Boxel, a Bombers senior linebacker, finished with seven tackles and one interception.
"He stepped up big time," Cannon Falls coach Josh Hofstedt said. "He probably played his best defensive game of the year."
Senior Brock Gobin and junior Trevor Sullivan each also intercepted a pass and Nate Zibolski, a senior, added seven tackles.
The Bombers also struggled to move the ball on offense in the opening half. The scored was tied at 0 at halftime.
Cannon Falls didn't break the stalemate until senior quarterback Spencer O'Reilly scored from 2 yards out with 56 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
"We just hammered away and got a touchdown," Hofstedt said.
Cam Adel kicked the extra point. The junior kicker also connected on a 22-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. The field goal capped a clock-draining, 90-yard drive and came with 52 seconds remaining in the game.
The complexion of the game could have been very different if not for what Hofstedt called a blown call.
With 6:15 to play in the first half, Gobin was hit and fumbled the ball. One of his teammates fell on the ball, a whistle blew and the ball squirted free. A Stewartville player scooped it up and jogged into the end zone.
Due to the inadvertent whistle, Cannon Falls got the ball back at their own 24-yard line and replayed second down.
Hofstedt said the Tigers should have gained possession of the ball.
"I hope our defense would do what they did all night long," Hofstedt said when asked how the game would have changed if Stewartville got the ball. "... (But) I don't even want to think about it."