Head’n To TheDome
As the old adage says, “Defense Wins Championships.”
After Friday’s 14-6 win over the top ranked Falcons of Aplington-Parkersburg, no Emmetsburg fan will ever argue that adage.
A huge goal line stand on four consecutive downs led Emmetsburg to its Quarterfinal victory last Friday, and brings the E’Hawks back to the warm confines of the UNI Dome this Saturday night against the West Branch Bears in a 7:30 p.m. contest. The winner will meet the winner of West Lyon vs Prairie Valley in the Class 1A Championships on Saturday, Nov. 22.
But back to last Friday night.
With the wind howling out of the north at 25 miles an hour, wind chills around 15 degrees, and the occasional snow flurry falling on soggy turf, the atmosphere was perfect for a playoff game.
The top-ranked Falcons got the ball first, but had to punt, and Emmetsburg would suffer a similar fate, but the snap was mishandled and punter Matt Wellik couldn’t get the kick off, giving the Falcons the ball at Emmetsburg’s 30. The E’Hawk defense rose to the occasion and forced the Falcons to turn the ball over on downs.
Once again, the E’Hawks would be forced to punt and AP took over at their 20 and managed to drive down to Emmetsburg’s five yard line as the first quarter came to a scoreless close.
Facing third and goal at the E’Hawks’ two yard line to open the second frame, the Falcons tried to wedge the ball into the end zone, but Emmetsburg’s defense, led by seniors Josh Wolfe, Adam Leuer, Robbie Myers, J.C. Rezabek and Seth Bird, stood their ground as the linebackers plugged the gaps.
On fourth and goal at the one and a half yard line, the E’Hawks answered the bell again, stopping the Falcons dead in their tracks, but more importantly, giving the E’Hawks the ball on downs at their own one yard line.
With 11:17 to play in the half, Emmetsburg started its drive. Taylor Morris got out to the 13, but the ball was knocked loose as he tried to stay on his feet. However, teammate Lucas Thomsen, trailing the play, saw the ball come out and jumped on it, recovering it at the 13 yard line to keep the drive going.
The E’Hawks, under the field direction of quarterback Tyler Kliegl, kept working the running game into the wind, eating up the clock. After crossing into AP territory, the E’Hawks got a first down at the Falcons’ 30, and two minutes later, Taylor Morris blasted around the right side and dived into the end zone after a 15 yard run to put the E’Hawks up by a 6-0 score. Matt Wellik would send the kick straight through the uprights as Emmetsburg took the 7-0 lead with 3:46 to go in the first half.
The Falcons would be unable to get a drive going after starting at their own 38 and punted with 2:16 to go, and the E’Hawks were content to run the clock out to take the7-0 lead into the locker room to warm up at intermission.
Emmetsburg took the kick facing the wind to start the third quarter, a tactic that would pay off in spades later in the contest. After stalling on their initial drive, the E’Hawks punted and the Falcons took over at their 13, but only advanced three yards before punting.
The E’Hawks took over at the Falcons’ 45 yard line with 8:15 to go in the third and started marching downfield once again.
After a slow start to the drive, Langston Jones ground his way down to the 12 yard line on a 36 yard run.
With a new set of downs, the E’Hawks clawed their way towards the goal line before Jones would pop through the crush of Falcon defenders to score with 4:50 to go in the quarter. Wellik added the kick for a 14-0 lead.
The Falcons continued to struggle, and tried a fake punt on fourth and 15, only to have the ruse sniffed out by Matt Wellik and Tommy Kuecker.
After punting to the Falcons, Emmetsburg would go on defense as AP drove to the E’hawks’ 28 yard line to end the third quarter, trailing 14-0.
The Falcons would end up turning the ball over on downs after solid defense by the E’Hawks, but AP got the ball back on a fumble at Emmetsburg’s 25. The Falcons would take advantage of the miscue and scored off a 12 yard pass from Alec Thomsen to Alex Hornbuckle with 5:56 to go in the game.
AP tried to pass for the conversion, but Tyler Kliegl knocked down the pass for the 14-6 score that would stand to the final buzzer.
For the E’Hawks, Taylor Morris gained 127 yards off 27 carries, while Langston Jones had 90 yards on 14 rushes. Tyler Kliegl picked up seven yards on eight attempts to give the E’Hawks a total of 114 rushing yards, with no passing on the night.
Aplington-Parkersburg had 91 rushing yards on 37 attempts and had seven of 14 passes for 72 yards to total 163 yards total offense.
For the E’Hawk defense, bobby Mortenson racked up 17 tackles, including a sack, while Tommy Kuecker had 15 tackles. Jake Morris had 10 tackles and a sack, while Josh Wolfe came up with seven tackles and a sack.