LeMARS - Emmetsburg's E-Hawks locked up the Class 1A District One title Friday night with a fast start and a 47-14 win over LeMars Gehlen. But more importantly, the E-Hawks continue their season by entering the playoff series this coming Wednesday for a state record 37th time.
The E-Hawks would get off to a quick start, as they took the opening kickoff and drove 72 yards to score with 8:34 to go in the first quarter as Austin McCartan found the end zone off a one yard plunge. Nick Merwald's kick was good for a 7-0 lead.
Gehlen would come out after the kick and found their passing game off the mark, resulting in a three and out, giving the E-Hawks the ball again at their 33 yard line.
Once again, Jake Jackson guided the E-Hawk machine downfield, using hard runs by Andrew Wellik and Cody Henderson before switching things up. Jackson delivered a 24-yard pass to Austin Krause, who caught the ball and ambled into the end zone for the score with 6:14 to go in the first period. The kick by Merwald put the E-Hawks up 14-0 as the E-Hawks were taking control of the contest.
Gehlen would start in a hole after a penalty on the return, and would suffer their first turnover of the game with 3:58 when Cody Henderson picked off a ball thrown by Gehlen's Blake Wiltgen at the E-Hawk 32 yard line with 3:58 to go in the quarter. Emmetsburg quickly took advantage of the turnover and drove 68 yards to cap off the drive with a four yard keeper by Jake Jackson with 2:17 remaining in the quarter. Nick Merwald capped the drive off with the kick for a 21-0 lead.
Gehlen would go three and out on the next series and punted, giving the E-Hawks the ball near midfield.
On first down, Jackson let fly again and hit Nick Schany with a short pass that Schany would take 57 yards to the end zone, only to have the play called back on a holding penalty with 1:03 to go in the quarter, The E-Hawks shook off the penalty and worked into Gehlen territory to end the quarter with the 21-0 advantage.
It wouldn't take long to add to the score in the second quarter as Andrew Wellik would get in his licks with a five yard run with 11;41 to go in the half. The kick was on the mark for a 28-0 lead.
The Gehlen offense would go three and out again in the face of a determined E-Hawk defense and Emmetsburg got the ball back at midfield. It didn't take long at all for Wellik to come up with a 25-yard touchdown run with 10:10 to go in the half. Merwald's kick made the score 35-0 as Gehlen took the resulting kickoff.
But once again, the E-Hawk defense forced a punt, but this time, Emmetsburg would turn the ball over on a fumble with 6:33 to go in the quarter.
Gehlen would recover the ball at Emmetsburg's 45 yard line but would end up punting again after facing a fourth and 18.
The E-Hawks would take over but a second turnover, an interception by Gehlen would be returned to Emmetsburg's 21-yard line with 2:03 to go in the half. The Jays would deliberately drive the ball down and finally erased their goose egg with a two yard pass reception by Michael Whitehead with :21 to play in the half. The conversion kick by Fabio Rivera made the score 35-7 at the intermission.
The E-Hawks would kick off to start the second half and forced a three and out for the Jays. Emmetsburg took over and drove down to the Gehlen 15 yard line but would end up turning the ball over on downs with 8:28 to go in the third quarter.
Gehlen began driving downfield with their passing game, only to be stopped when Jake Jackson picked off a Wiltgen pass at the E-Hawk 24-yard line with 5:24 to go in the quarter.
E-Hawk Head Coach Mike Dunlap brought the second team offense into the game at that point. A big run by Jensen got the E-Hawks to the Jays' 14 yard line with 2:56 to go in the quarter, but Emmetsburg would turn the ball over on downs.
Gehlen would take over and engineered a drive that would cover 84 yards and be capped off by a 44 yard pass reception by Whitehead with :57 to go in the quarter. Rivera's kick cut the Jays deficit to 35-14 as the third quarter ended.
Emmetsburg would open the final quarter at their own 47 yard line and used an offsides penalty by the Jays to keep a drive alive that would set up a score. With 8:23 to go in the game, Allen Jensen took the ball 17 yards for a score, but Taylor Wegner's PAT?kick fell short, making the score 41-14.
Gehlen would get the ball and tried to take to the air again, but Shay Mortenson picked off a pass at the E-Hawk 40 yard line with 8:)5 to play. The E-Hawks would end up punting the ball away with just over 6:00 to play, but the determined defense stopped Gehlen and got the ball back on downs at the 50 with 4:51 to go in the game.
Quarterback Brandon Elbert started marching the E-Hawks downfield again, getting runs from Jensen, Mitch Petersen, Jacob Kibbie and Greg Wesley, filling in for an injured Aaron Bird. The E-Hawk reserves marched steadily downfield until with 1:07 to play, Jacob Kibbie got the call and made his way into the end zone from five yards away. Wegner's kick was no good, giving Emmetsburg the 47-14 lead.
Gehlen would take over after the kick but the clock wound down to cap off the E-Hawks' regular season on a positive note.
Emmetsburg would pick up 501 rushing yards off 69 attempts while Gehlen managed 50 yards on 15 attempts. The E-Hawks had one of three passes with one interception for 24 yards, while the Jays had 22 of 44 passes with three interceptions for 247 yards.
Emmetsburg got 188 yards rushing off 22 carries by Allen Jensen and 145 yards off 16 carries from Andrew Wellik. Mitch Petersen added 68 yards from 11 rushes and Cody Henderson gained 50 yards from six carries.
Aaron Bird had two carries for 14 yards and Greg Wesley added four rushes for 14 yards. Jake Jackson had two carries for nine yards, while Jacob Kibbie rushed twice for eight yards. Austin McCartan made three rushes for seven yards and Brady Christensen ran once for six yards.
Jake Jackson completed one pass for 24 yards to Austin Krause.
Defensively, Cody Henderson intercepted a pass and returned it 14 yards for the E-Hawks, while Shay Mortenson and Jake Jackson also picked off passes. Nick Schany racked up nine tackles, while Austin McCartan added eight stops to the effort, as did Brady Christensen.
The E-Hawks will host the Raptors of Ridge View in the first round of Playoff action this Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. at Duane Twait Field.