Quarterback Elise Schmidt fired three touchdown passes and her defense had two interceptions as the St. Cloud Bulldogs captured the Class 2A District 5 flag football championship with a 19-6 win over Gateway on Thursday night at Freedom High School.
 
The win lifted St. Cloud, 12-1 on the season, into the state tournament where they will face District 6 Champion Riverview in a regional semifinal on Thursday. Gateway, the 2019 OBC Champions, saw its season end at 11-3.  The Lady Bulldogs victory also avenged St. Cloud’s only loss this season.
 
“I could not be more pleased with our team’s focus and determination tonight,” St. Cloud Head coach Shawn Beck said.  “We were looking forward to this rematch ever since we dropped that early season game to the Panthers.”
 
Beck praised the play of Schmidt, her receivers and his defense.
 
“Elsie did a great job taking care of the ball tonight. She’s a really smart player who threw it on time and didn’t try to force anything.  Her receivers did a great job of catching the ball and making plays.  Defensively, I think we gave up six or seven plays of 20 or more yards the first time we played them, tonight we only gave up one really big play and that was on a tipped ball.”
 
St. Cloud jumped on top on its first possession as Schmidt hooked up with Kierstyn Kelly on a 43-yard catch and run for a touchdown. Schmidt hit Angelina Rodriguez for the conversion and a 7-0 lead.
 
Two possessions later, the Lady Bulldogs made it 13-0 on Valentina Velez’s sensational one-handed over-the-shoulder grab in the left corner on the end zone. The touchdown was set up by a 36-yard pass by Rodriguez, who took a lateral from Schmidt and hit Velez over the middle.
 
Four defensive stops, including an Andrea Hernandez interception before halftime, allowed St. Cloud to maintain a two-score lead at half.
 
St. Cloud would put the game away on the first play of the fourth quarter as Schmidt capped a four-play drive with a 28-yard scoring strike to Velez, who finished the game with four catches for 84 yards.
 
Gateway would finally get on the board midway through the fourth quarter, as quarterback Gyo Ramos capped an 11-play, 65-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run.  The key play of the drive was a 24-yard pass from Ramos to Bria Rollins-Simms.
 
Ramos completed 8 of 19 for 136 yards and two interceptions but was also sacked three times.  
 
“Congratulations to St. Cloud they jumped on us early and disrupted our offense, we just couldn’t get anything going all night,” Gateway Head Coach Travis Hill said.  “I’m sure our kids are disappointed right now but I could not be prouder of them.  They went undefeated in the county, won the first OBC flag championship in school history and certainly exceeded all our expectations. Our program took a big step forward this year.”