E’Hawks Escape With OT Win Over Aplington-Parkersburg
For many, many years, one of the tried and true adages of football is that “Defense Wins Championships.”
If you didn’t subscribe to that adage going into Wednesday night’s Class 1A Substate game, you left Duane Twait Field believing it as the Emmetsburg defense made a huge stop in overtime and then came back offensively for a 13-7 win over Aplington-Parkersburg.
The thrilling victory advanced Emmetsburg into a first round playoff game Monday night with South Winneshiek in Emmetsburg. The Warriors are no strangers to the E’Hawks, as Emmetsburg defeated South Winnishiek by a 54-20 tally in the substate round a year ago.
In Wednesday’s substate matchup, it was a case of mirror images – with the visiting Falcons being almost a mirror image of the E’Hawks. Taking the opening kickoff, Emmetsburg would start a drive that drove to their own 34 before a punt would ensue, giving Aplington-Parkersburg the ball at their own 35.
The Falcons would put together a series of short runs by Alex Hornbuckle that would result in a 65-yard drive capped off by a five yard run by Jake Everts with 5:14 to go in the opening quarter. The kick by Brandon McCracken was good, giving the Falcons a 7-0 lead over the E’Hawks.
However, there was no panic for the E’Hawks, but there was frustration on the horizon.
After getting a touchback on the kick, Emmetsburg started at its own 20 and went backwards off penalties before punting on fourth and 15 at the 25. The Falcons got the ball at their own 39, but were held to three downs and a punt by the E’Hawk defense, which got the ball back at the 12 yard line with :24 to go in the quarter.
On first down, quarterback Cory Schultes stuck the ball in Joey Naig’s gut and the senior busted and ran his way 76 yards down to the Falcons’ 13 yard line before being forced out of bounds as time expired in the quarter.
Trailing 7-0 to start the second quarter, the E’Hawks were in ideal field position at the 13, but could only bull their way to the nine yard line. On a fourth and seven at the nine, Emmetsburg Head Coach Mike Dunlap sent kicker Ben McCain out to try a 26 yard attempt from the left has mark, but the strong southeasterly wind caught the kick and drove it left of the uprights for the miss.
Dropping back into defense, the E’Hawks held the Falcons to a three-and-out, giving Emmetsburg the ball back at the Falcons’ 38 yard line . But once again, a penalty would stop the drive, forcing a punt at midfield into the wind the Falcons got at their 20 own 20. Aplington-Parkersburg started a drive that would push towards midfield off runs by Hornbuckle, but with 6:30 to go in the half, a run by the Falcons turned into disaster as the ball popped loose at their own 40 and Bobby Gappa dived into a pile of bodies to try and corner the ball.
The officials pried the pile apart and after what seemed like minutes, Gappa emerged from the bottom of the pile with ball in hand for the E’Hawks. The E’Hawks quickly drove down to the Falcons’ 15 yard line, and then faced fourth and eight at the 13 yard line. The attempt to keep the drive alive stalled, giving AP the ball back at their own 13.
The Falcons’ drive went nowhere, though and a punt was shanked at the 27 yard line, giving the E’Hawks the ball at the Falcons’ 38.
With 1:19 to go in the half, Emmetsburg started driving downfield, getting to the 17 yard line with just under 1:00 to play. After a time out, facing third and 10 at the 17, Cory Schultes put the ball in the air and hit tight end Nick Wuebker at the one yard line. Wuebker was brought down right away, but the E’Hawks had earned the first down at the one-yard stripe.
Emmetsburg lined up and Schultes gave the ball to Tommy Kuecker, who bulled his way into the end zone from a yard away with :33 to go in the half. Ben McCain drilled the conversion kick to tie the score at 7-7 when the half came to a conclusion.
Aplington-Parkersburg would get the kick to open the second half, but would go nowhere, turning the ball over on downs. Emmetsburg would take over, but would be forced to punt as the two defenses managed to counter each other’s offenses through the third quarter. The two teams would trade possessions and punts through the quarter, with the E’Hawks having the ball at their own 25 to end the third frame with the score still deadlocked at 7-7.
The E’Hawks started the final quarter with a drive that was aided by a chop block penalty against the Falcons that brought the E’Hawks to the AP 31 yard line. The drive continued down to the 10 yard stripe on third and one, when Tommy Kuecker had the ball stripped after it looked as if he were down on the ground.
The Falcons came up with the ball, robbing the E’Hawks of a prime opportunity with 6:37 to go in regulation.
Aplington-Parkersburg would take to the airways, using short passes to work their way downfield into Emmetsburg territory until, with 4:33 to go, Bobby Gappa read the play and jumped in front of a pass at the E’Hawks’ 28 yard line, grounding the Falcons’ drive.
Emmetsburg took over and drove to midfield, where Schultes erupted for a 27 yard gain on a bootleg down the Falcons’ sideline to the AP 24 yard line.
With 1:19 to go, the E’Hawks tried to punch into the end zone, only to be stopped by the Falcons’ defense, who got the ball back at their own 26 yard line with 1:05 to play in regulation.
The E’Hawk defense stepped up, and with a fourth and one at their own 34, the Falcons were stopped, setting up the overtime period.
Emmetsburg won the toss and elected to go on defense first, defending the south end zone, with the wind at their backs. Aplington-Parkersburg got the ball first at the 10 yard line, and on first down, quarterback Austin Ryan kept the ball and was smothered by Howard Henkelvig and Tommy Kuecker for no gain.
On second down, Ryan rolled out, but John Ruddy was on the express route and simply ran Ryan down, whirling the quarterback to the ground 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage.
Now facing third down at the 20, Ryan put the ball in the air for the right end zone, but Joey Naig jumped in front of the ball for the interception to kill the Falcons’ changes.
Now, it was the E’Hawks’ turn. Starting at the 10 yard line, Schultes put the ball in Kuecker’s hands and Kuecker bounced outside to pick up five yards.
On second down, Kuecker got the ball again, and dived inside to the two yard stripe before being buried by the interior of the AP?line.
On third down, the E’Hawk line gave a tremendous surge as Kuecker dived forward again off right tackle, and got the nose of the ball over the goal line. After a few anxious seconds, the linesman signaled the touchdown as the stands erupted in cheers and celebration of a battle fought well.
Emmetsburg would end up with 281 yards total offense, with 265 rushing yards off 59 plays, while the Falcons mustered 130 yards of 42 plays. In the air, Cory Schultes completed one of eight passes for 16 yards, with Nick Wuebker making the 16 yard reception. Aplington-Parkersburg picked up eight of 15 passes for 102 yards for a total of 232 yards total offense.
Emmetsburg would be led by Joey Naig’s 29 carries for 151 yards in the battle, while Cory Schultes added 61 yards off 11 rushing attempts. Tommy Kuecker added 15 rushes for 36 yards and scored both Emmetsburg touchdowns, while Brady Berkland added 13 yards off three carries and Jake Morris added four yards on one attempt.
Defensively, Bobby Gappa would come up with a fumble recovery and a pass interceptions, as well as five tackles, while Joey Naig intercepted a pass and made four tackles. John Ruddy tallied a big quarterback sack in the overtime as he made three tackles as well.
Tommy Kuecker would pace the defensive effort with a dozen tackles on the night, while Brady Berkland added 10 stops to the effort. Howard Henkelvig would add in eight tackles and Tyler Henderson made seven tackles for the E’Hawks.