To borrow from an old classic, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times". For the Emmetsburg E-Hawks, Fridays district opener with the Rebels of Sioux Central was a tale of two different halves of football.
Emmetsburg played the Rebels even up to a 7-7 draw at halftime Friday night, but brought their A-game to bear in the second half and scored 28 unanswered points in a 35-7 win over the Rebels. The win gives the E-Hawks a 1-0 mark in Class 1A District Two play and a 3-0 mark on the year.
Penalties hobbled the E-Hawks in the first quarter, as a trio of flags on their first drive would force a punt midway through the first quarter of Friday's game at Albert City. But after getting the ball back, Emmetsburg took over at their 33 and drove 67 yards to take a lead after Brady Berkland dashed into the endzone with 3:38 to go in the quarter from 15 yards out and Zach Overberg added the conversion kick for the 7-0 lead.
E-Hawk Nick Schany races in to block a punt by Sioux Central’s Brad Ripke as teammate Marcus Akridge follows in the fourth quarter of Friday’s game at Albert City. Schany would block the kick and Akridge recovered the punt, scooping it up for a 57 yard return and touchdown. --Dan Voigt photo
Sioux Central would take over and began working their way down field as the first quarter ended. The Rebels would drive down to Emmetsburg's 26, but turned the ball over on downs.
The E-Hawks would start with good field position, but an interception of a Ryan Kliegl pass would kill the Emmetsburg possession and put Sioux Central back on the offense at their own 37. The Rebels would be forced to punt, and the E-Hawks started at their own 20 after the punt rolled into the end zone.
Emmetsburg would start the long drive downfield and got to the Rebels' 15 yard lien with 8:27 to go in the half. Back-to-back holding penalties would send Emmetsburg backwards, and the E-Hawks would turn the ball over on downs at the Rebels' 37.
Sioux Central would use a series of short screens to work their way down field and with 2:32 to go in the half, Nick Wittmaack would score off a 30 yard pass from Brad Ripke, but only after Emmetsburg's Cody Henderson had tipped the ball in the end zone, and Wittmaack was able to snag it before it hit the ground. The conversion kick tied the game up at 7-7 as the two times would exchange a series of possessions with no further scoring before the intermission.
Taking the kickoff to open the second half. Emmetsburg engineered a 63-yard drive that would pay off with 8:47 to go in the third frame as Andrew Wellik ran in from six yards out. Overberg's kick put the E-Hawks back on top by a 14-7 margin as Sioux Central took over.
Again, the Rebels were able to march downfield off a series of screens and short runs, but after working down to the E-Hawks' 27 yard line, the Rebels fumbled on an exchange. Wellik jumped on the loose ball to kill the drive and give Emmetsburg another shot.
With the ball at their own 27, Emmetsburg ground its way down the field and with with 2:52 to go in the third frame, Brady Berkland would plunge into the end zone from a yard away for the score. The conversion kick was blocked, however, forcing Emmetsburg to settle for a 20-7 advantage at the end of the third frame.
Sioux Central came back after the E-Hawk score and drove to the Emmetsburg 32 yard line, but an incomplete pass would force a turnover on downs with 11:14 to go in the game as the E-Hawk defense was hitting on all cylinders.
With Jake Jackson calling the signals, the E-Hawks started downfield once again, using the running of Wellik and Berkland to move the offense down towards the goal line.
With 9:42 to go in the contest, Jackson would keep the ball and scamper into the end zone from four yards out. Marcus Akridge got the nod on the conversion and bulled into the end zone for the 28-7 advantage.
The kickoff would bounce out of bounds, giving the Rebels the ball at their 35, and they quickly moved into E-Hawk territory to the 43, but sputtered and were forced to punt. As Ripke dropped the ball for the kick, Emmetsburg's Nick Schany dived and blocked the ball squarely. The ball bounced back behind Ripke, but Marcus Akridge blasted past the Rebel to scoop up the ball and sprint from the end zone to score on the 57- yard blocked punt return.
Zach Overberg delivered the chip shot kick and Emmetsburg held a 35-7 seven lead with 5:16 to go in the contest that would hold for the win.
Emmetsburg would rack up 462 yards of total offense against Sioux Central's 279 yards. For the E-Hawks, however, 85 yards of penalties did not aid the effort, compared with 55 yards for the Rebels.
Brady Berkland would carry the football 20 times to gain 174 yards while Andrew Wellik also had 20 carries to gain 172 yards on the night in a very balanced rushing attack for the E-Hawks. Marcus Akridge added five rushes for 38 yards, while Cody Henderson had four carries for 21 yards. Jake Jackson had two runs for 18 yards, while Ryan Kliegl made five carries for 11 yards. Austin Mccartan had two ruses for five yards and Mitch Peterson added one carry for five yards to give Emmetsburg 444 yards on the ground.
Ryan Kliegl completed three of nine passes for 18 yards with one interception on the night. Andrew Wellik had a 12-yard catch and Brady Berkland mad two catches for six yards in the effort.
Defensively, Brady Berkland made 21 tackles on the night, while Nick Schany had 11 stops and the blocked punt.
Austin McCartan made 10 tackles, while Marcus Akridge had eight tackles and recovered a fumble, as did Andrew Wellik. Tayler Wegner and Andrew Garrelts also each had eight tackles.
The E-Hawks will continue the district slate this Friday as the return home to host the Indians of Pocahontas Area/Pomeroy-Palmer at Duane Twait Field. Game time will be at 7 p.m.