If there's a regular season game that means more emotionally than Homecoming, you'd be hard-pressed to pick one. For Emmetsburg's E-Hawks, Homecoming 2012 ended a high note with a 40-7 victory over the Western Christian Wolfpack on Friday night.
Emmetsburg would jump out to a 21-0 advantage at the end of the first quarter of play and never really had to look back.
The win improves Coach Mike Dunlap's E-Hawks to 5-1 overall on the season and 3-0 in a tie for the lead of Class 1A District One with South O'Brien.
Emmetsburg would take the opening kick on Friday at their own 30 yard line and wasted little time in setting the tone of the contest. On second and nine, Andrew Wellik took the handoff and beat the Wolfpack defenders for a 69-yard touchdown run with 11:13 to play in the opening quarter. Nick Merwald split the uprights for a 7-0 lead as the crowd was still filing in.
Western Christian would be held to a three and out on their resulting possession, and the E-Hawks made good use of the punt.
Starting at their own 38, Emmetsburg would grind downfield, eating clock time. A key first down was picked up off a fourth and one with 6:55 to go in the quarter, an on the next play, quarterback Jake Jackson spotted Nick Schany in the end zone and put the ball in the air. Schany and a defender both went for the ball, which was tipped, but Schany managed to grab the orb as he fell and held on to score the eight-yard touchdown reception with 6:21 to play in the quarter. The conversion kick gave the E-Hawks a 14-0 advantage.
The Wolfpack would manage to string together a first down on their next possession but punted again, giving Emmetsburg the ball at their own 30 with 4:26 to go in the quarter.
The Emmetsburg ground game shifted into gear again with runs by Cody Henderson, Jake Jackson and Wellik as it marched downfield to cap off the 70-yard drive with a nine-yard run from Wellik with 2:23 to play in the quarter. The kick by Merwald made the score 21-0 as the E-Hawks appeared to have the game in a cruise control mode.
The Wolfpack would take over as the quarter ended and managed to string together its first extended drive of the game, but ended up stalling out on fourth and 10 at the E-Hawk 18 yard line. A 36-yard field goal attempt drifted wide left with 10:40 to go in the half, denying the Wolfpack a scoring opportunity.
Emmetsburg would take over but couldn't get anything going and were forced to punt. Western Christian took over near mid-field with 9:08 to go in the half, and once again started a drive, using short passes to work their way downfield until, with 6:50 to go in the half, Drew VanSloten broke loose for a 13-yard run to score. The conversion kick by Michael Den Herder was good, cutting the E-Hawk lead to 21-7.
After the kickoff, Emmetsburg took over at their 25 and quickly started marching downfield once again and with 4:34 to go in the half, Wellik threaded his way through the defense again to race 44 yards to the end zone for a score. Nick Merwald's kick drifted right, making the score 27-7.
Western Christian would get a first down but was forced to punt once again and the E-Hawks ended up returning the favor with 1:07 to go in the half. The Wolfpack took over at their own 25 yard line and used a couple of quick passes to race downfield.
Just when it looked as though the Wolfpack were poised to score, a pass tipped by a defending Brady Christensen at the E-Hawk 15 ended up in Jake Jackson's hands as he returned it to the 41 yard line with :17 to play in the half. The clock would wind down with the E-Hawks holding the 20-point, 27-7 lead at the intermission.
The visiting Wolfpack took the kick to start the second half and started a slow, methodical drive, only to lose the ball on a fumble with 7:22 to go as Mitch Petersen fell on the loose orb at the E-Hawk 22 yard line.
Emmetsburg took over and needed just a couple of minutes to convert the turnover into points. As Jake Jackson took the snap, the blocking of his teammates opened up a hole on the right side. Jackson took the ball and scampered 34 yards for a score with 4:22 to go in the third quarter. But, Merwald's kick went wide right again, forcing the E-Hawks to settle for a 33-7 lead.
The Wolfpack took over after the kick and drove from their own 21 down to the Emmetsburg 34 yard line, but with 1:02 to go in the quarter, facing a fourth and one, Western Christian was stopped dead in their tracks by the E-Hawk defense to turn the ball over on downs.
Quickly, the E-Hawks raced downfield to the Western Christian 18-yard line as the quarter ended, setting up the final quarter of play.
With a first down to start the final stanza at the Wolfpack 18 yard line, Emmetsburg took its time to set up a score, getting a four yard run from Jake Jackson to tally the final points of the game with 10:15 to go in the game. This time, Nick Merwald found the mark and put the kick dead center for the 40-7 advantage.
Western Christian would get the ball only to fumble it and recover it to waste a down, which would ultimately lead to the Wolfpack turning the ball over on downs at the Emmetsburg 44 yard line with 7:43 to go in the game.
The E-Hawks would drive over the mid-field stripe, but fumbled the ball back to Western Christian at their own 41 yard line. Again, the Wolfpack would take over, but a determined E-Hawk defense would force another fourth and long that would come up short to give the ball back on downs.
Emmetsburg would get the ball back at it's own 16 yard line with 2:38 to play, and the E-Hawks would use the clock up to take the 40-7 victory to cap off Homecoming week.
The ground game paid off again for the E-Hawks, with 438 rushing yards off 49 attempts. Western Christian gained 188 yards off 39 attempts. In the air, the Wolfpack held the advantage of 125 yards to just four yards for the E-Hawks.
Andrew Wellik came away with 18 carries for 253 yards, while Cody Henderson picked up 102 yards off 12 carries. Jake Jackson added nine rushes to pick up 58 yards, with Allen Jensen earning 32 yards from seven rushes. Austin McCartan had a one-yard pickup on one attempt and Mitch Petersen carried twice to pick up a yard.
Jake Jackson completed two of four passes for eight yards, with Nick Schany making a reception for a touchdown and Andrew Wellik making a catch for a loss of four yards.
Defensively, Austin McCartan made 16 tackles and Nick Schany added 12 stops, while Jake Jackson had an interception for a 25 yard return and Mitch Petersen recovered a fumble.
The E-Hawks travel to Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn this Friday evening, Oct. 3.