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E’Hawks Persevere In Homecoming Showdown

By Staff | Sep 30, 2008

DANCING IN TO SCORE - E’Hawk backup quarterback Joey Naig tip-toed his way into the end zone from two yards out for the insurance touchdown in Emmetsburg’s Homecoming victory over St. Edmonds’ of Fort Dodge on Friday night. Naig filled in admirably after starter Tyler Kliegl was injured in the late stages of the second quarter, as he engineer all three of the E’Hawks’ scoring drives and recovered a fumble on defense. -- Dan Voigt photo

Homecoming 2008 will be one to remember for the Emmetsburg E’Hawks. For the first time in their season, the E’Hawks trailed at halftime in a contest, and then came back to win a hard-fought, injury fest over St. Edmonds of Fort Dodge by an 18-7 score.

However, the win moves Emmetsburg to the sole lead of Class 1A District Two with a perfect 3-0 mark, and 5-0 mark overall on the season, after Belmond-Klemme was defeated by Lake Mills.

“St. Edmond is a very physical football team,” Emmetsburg Head Coach Mike Dunlap said following the win. ”You have to give a lot of credit to our offensive line for really getting off the football in the second half, and we had some younger guys come in and really step up for us as well when some of our starters got dinged up.’

The E’Hawks would see their opening drive stall with a fumble that was recovered by St. Ed’s with 11:16 to go in the first quarter. The resulting Gael drive ended with a 22 yard field goal attempt that was knocked astray by Langston Jones and Bobby Mortenson with 8:58 to go in the quarter.

Emmetsburg took over once again and began marching the ball downfield with its bruising ground game, but the second fumble of the contest saw the Gaels recover again near midfield.

The E’Hawk defense responded, stopping St. Ed’s after the Gaels passed their way down to the nine yard line and bulled to the four where they turned the ball over on downs with 2:10 to play in the quarter. But, Emmetsburg could only get to its own 14 and punted the ball to wrap up the first quarter with the Gaels at 46 yard line.

The defensive battle continued with a six yard sack by Adam Leuer and Bobby Mortenson to open the second frame. The sack would eventually force a punt, which would lead to the E’Hawks going three and out, setting up a punt.

On the punt coverage, the ball was dropped by the St. Ed return man. Emmetsburg’s Joey Naig rocketed to the pigskin and recovered it at the 50, giving the E’Hawks’ new life.

Tyler Kliegl drove the E’Hawks downfield, and with 4:45, Kliegl pitched to Langston Jones, who was dragged down at the one yard line. A fumble on the next next play would be recovered by the E’Hawks at the eight. The E’Hawks would try to bull the ball into the end zone, and on fourth and goal, Jones got to the two yard stripe, only to see the Gaels get the ball back with 2:13 to go in the scoreless half.

The Gaels would go four and out, but Emmetsburg would suffer a similar fate, turning the ball over on downs with :57 to go at their own 37. St. Edmond’s quickly got to the 20 yard line with :08 to play, and with :02 to go in the half, Gael quarterback John Engler connected with Brian Sandvig on a 20-yard touchdown pass. Bryan Huss kicked the extra point, making the score 7-0 in favor of the Gaels at the intermission.

With Tyler Kliegl coming out of the contest just prior to the intermission, Joey Naig stepped to the help of the E’Hawks to finish the half, and stayed at the wheel in the second half.

Emmetsburg’s defense held the Gaels to three and out to open the second half, and after the punt, took over at the Gaels’ 32 yard line with 10:19 to play in the quarter. Langston Jones continued to batter the St. Eds defense, and the E’Hawks methodically ground their way to a third and one at the nine-yard line.

Jones took a handoff and collided with three defenders at the one, but leaned backward with the ball extended to break the plane of the goal line for the E’Hawks’ first score Matt Wellik’s kick went wide, however, leaving Emmetsburg down by a point with 8:55 remaining in the third quarter and plenty of football remaining to be played.

The Gaels would mount a sustained drive, working down to the E’Hawk 37 yard line with 4:22 to go in the third, but Bobby Mortenson dumped John Engler for a 10 yard loss off a blitz that would force a punt.

Emmetsburg took over at its own 12 yard line, and ground its way to midfield to end the third quarter, trailing 6-7, but only after Jones limped off the field in the midst of the drive.

The fourth quarter opened with the E’Hawks still holding hope, as Jones returned to the field with a heavily taped ankle, and cracking off a 29-yard run down to the 13. Smelling the end zone, the E’Hawks got to the two yard line and with 10:51 remaining in the game, Taylor Morris bulled his way into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown. On the two-point conversion try, Morris was stopped just inches shy of the end zone, giving Emmetsburg a precarious 12-7 lead.

St. Edmonds took the resulting kickoff at their own 25, but on first down, the ball squirted loose and Matt Ballman spotted the pigskin and dived on it at the 29 to give Emmetsburg great field position off the turnover.

Naig engineered a time-comsuming drive that was capped off with a two-yard carry by the junior quarterback with 6:52 to go in the game. However, the two-point conversion failed once again, leaving Emmetsburg with a bit of breathing room in an 18-7 lead.

St. Edmonds would try to engineer a drive on their next possession, but Trevor Dettmann, playing with his right hand in a full cast, intercepted a pass at the Gaels’ 40 and returned it 17 yards down to the 23 yard stripe.

However, Emmetsburg would fumble the ball a third time in the game at the four yard line after Taylor Morris had hit the ground with 3:41 to go. The Gaels took the ball and started driving, but a penalty slowed their advance.

With time running down, the Gaels coughed the ball up on a massive hit. Tommy Kuecker recovered the ball at the Gaels’ 35 yard line with :46 to go and the E’Hawks were content to take a knee on the last two snaps to preserve the hard-fought victory.

Emmetsburg would earn every one of its 279 yards, as all of the offense came on the ground in the win. St. Edmonds gained 131 yards on the ground and 94 in the air for a 225 yard offensive effort in the loss.

Langston Jones would gain 142 yards in 23 carries, despite the injured ankle in the second half. Taylor Morris picked up 88 yards on 21 carries, while Bobby Mortenson added 39 yards off five rushes. Joey Naig gained 23 yards in seven rushes, while Tyler Kliegl would rush five times, but lost 13 yards in the process.

Emmetsburg had just one punt reception in the contest, a 16 yard reception by Tommy Kuecker in the third quarter.

Defensively, the E’Hawks had 15 tackles from Bobby Mortenson, including a sack,,while Tommy Kuecker added 10 stops, as well as a fumble recovery. Joey Naig and Matt Ballman both recovered fumbles for the E’Hawks, while Taylor Morris also recorded a quarterback sack.

Emmetsburg will now concentrate on the Cardinals of Garner-Hayfield when they travel to Garner this Friday night.