It’s Good To Be Dome Again!
CEDAR FALLS – Even though it may seem corny to say “Dome Sweet Dome”, It’s always good to be dome, er, home again, especially when it means a State Championship berth in the UNI Dome. After Saturday’s 27- win over West Branch in the Class 1A Semi-final, the E’Hawks of Emmetsburg will make a return to the state title game this coming Saturday when they take on West Lyon for the Class 1A State Championship at 10:05 a.m.
“It’s a great feeling to be in the championship game,” admitted Emmetsburg Head Coach Mike Dunlap. “The games never get any easier, but we just have to take them one game at a time. We certainly have the greatest respect for all of our opponenets and that goes for West Lyon.”
Emmetsburg got the ball on the opening kickoff and started what would be an 80-yard drive to set the tone of the contest. Using power football and a clock consuming offense, quarterback Tyler Kliegl drove the E’Hawks across the UNI Dome turf and with 9:09 to go in the opening quarter, Langston Jones would bowl over a would-be tackler and dived into the end zone to cap off a six yard touchdown. Matt Wellik added the conversion kick for an early 7-0 lead.
West Branch would take over and started a drive of their own after a touchback, but with 6:28 to go in the quarter, West Branch would fumble the ball at the E’Hawks’ 34 yard line, where Bobby Mortenson grabbed the loose ball to give the E’Hawks the orb.
Emmetsburg went to work and quickly engineered a drive that resulted in an apparent touchdown, only to have the run waved off on a holding penalty.
Starting at their own 41, Emmetsburg shook off the miscue and started down the field again, using hard runs by Langston Jones and Taylor Morris to pick away at the West Branch defense. Morris would make a huge run down to the 27 yard line for a new series of downs, and with 2:20 to go in the quarter, Morris dived over the goal line for a six yard touchdown. Matt Wellik’s kick was good and Emmetsburg held a 14-0 lead that would hold to the end of the quarter after a sack by Jacob Morris left West Branch facing a second and 10 at Emmetsburg’s 35 yard line.
The Bears would move down to the E’Hawk 28 yard line, but Emmetsburg’s defense stiffened and stopped the Bears on a fourth and 16, getting the ball back on downs.
Emmetsburg took over at its’ own 28, and started driving down field, but with 5:50 to go in the half, a pass by Kliegl was intercepted at the Bears’ 11-yard line. The Bears would take over after the turnover and engineered a 77 yard drive that would result in a one yard touchdown by quarterback Adam Donohoe with 1:13 to go in the half. Brandon Young kicked the conversion to cut Emmetsburg’s lead to 14-7 at the intermission.
The E’Hawks would kick off to open the second half, with West Branch getting a good return to their own 36 yard line, but Emmetsburg’s defense would force the Bears into three downs and a punt, giving Emmetsburg the ball at their own 34 yard line.
The E’Hawks took over and started grinding their way downfield like they had in the first half, eating up time off the clock along with yardage until Taylor Morris dived into the end zone from a yard out with 4:12 to go in the third quarter. Matt Wellik added the kick for a 21-7 lead and West Branch took over after the kick.
However, a solid of West Branch’s Jordan Thompson resulted in a fumble. Emmetsburg’s Justin DeFord and Bobby Mortenson both scrambled for the ball with Mortenson coming up with the loose ball at the Bears’ 37 yard line with 3:57 to go in the third quarter.
With great field position, the E’Hawks went to work quickly. Tyler Kliegl found Trevor Dettmann racing to the end zone and fired off a pass that Dettmann hauled in at the one yard line, but a flag for offensive pass interference brought the play back to the 49 yard line.
Emmetsburg went back to work, grinding away at the yardage and using a 14 yard pass to Langston Jones to get a first and 10 at the Bears’ 24-yard line. The E’Hawks would keep chipping away, getting to the 17 yard line for a fourth and three before picking up a first down at the 12 to end the third quarter with the 21-7 advantage.
With a fresh set of downs, Emmetsburg kept working the clock, driving down to the five yard line, but ended up turning the ball over on downs with 9:58 to go in the contest.
West Branch took over with a sense of urgency and began passing, but Tyler Kliegl picked off a pass at West Branch’s 16 yard line and got two yards on the return.
The turnover was just what Emmetsburg wanted. Kliegl and the E’Hawks chipped their way towards the goal line until Taylor Morris found his way into the end zone from a yard out with 7:33 to go in the game. The conversion kick went wide, however, making the score 27-7 as the Bears took over following the kick.
A good return by West Branch brought the Bears to the 24 yard line from the one-foot line, and West Branch started driving again. Using a series of quick short passes, West Branch marched down field as the clock spun down, getting to Emmetsburg’s eight-yard line.
The E’Hawk defense forced West Branch backwards for a couple of plays, forcing the Bears to a third and goal at the 12-yard line, but a pass quickly brought the Bears to the one yard stripe.
West Branch took a time out to talk about the play ahead of them as the E’Hawks gathered at the goal line, thinking of their stand a week earlier on the goal line against Aplington-Parkersburg.
With West Branch facing fourth and goal at the one, the Bears tried to force the ball around the left side, but Emmetsburg’s defense blew through the offensive line and dragged Jordan Thompson down to kill the play and get the ball back on downs.
Emmetsburg got out of the end zone quickly, earning a first down at the 16 yard line with 1:28 to go in the game, and the reserves came in for the final two snaps of the contest as the celebration began on the E’Hawks’ side of the field.
Emmetsburg would come up with 349 yards of rushing offense off 58 carries, while West Branch gained 90 yards off 26 rushing attempts in the contest.
Tyler Kliegl would lead Emmetsburg’s rushing attack on Saturday, as he carried for 143 yards on just nine rushes for the E’Hawks. Taylor Morris added 123 yards on 29 rushes, but scored three touchdowns, while Langston Jones gained 88 yards off 16 carries and scored one touchdown.
Tommy Kuecker had three yards on one carry and Keaton Carter had a two yard gain, while Matt Wellik lost a yard on one carry and Joey Naig lost nine yards on one rushing attempt.
Tyler Kliegl completed one of three passes for 14 yards with one interception. Langston Jones was the receiver of the 14 yard throw.
West Branch completed 14 of 20 passes with one interception for 144 yards as the Bears had a total offense of 234 yards, opposed to Emmetsburg’s 364 yard effort.
Defensively, Emmetsburg got 11 tackles from Tommy Kuecker, while Bobby Mortenson made nine stops and recovered two fumbles. Tyler Kliegl intercepted a pass, while Taylor Morris and Jake Morris each tallied a quarterback sack in the win.
“West Branch is a good football team and we have to give them a great deal of credit,” Dunlap said. “But, the kids played hard, kept their focus, and did what we needed to do. Now, we get ready for next Saturday.”