That Was A Close One…
INWOOD – The old adage that defense wins championships was never more true than Friday night for the Emmetsburg E-Hawks. And, it seemed even more appropriate that an outstanding defensive effort should occur against none other than the West Lyon Wildcats, as the E-Hawks trailed 3-0 after one quarter and then used a pair of big defensive efforts to earn a 17-10 victory over their arch-rivals to take sole possession of the Class 1A District Two lead.
The narrow victory gives Emmetsburg a 6-0 mark overall and 4-0 in the district, but another challenge awaits this Friday night as Emmetsburg makes another trip to the west to meet old Lakes Conference foe Sibley-Ocheyedan.
The E-Hawks knew going into Friday’s game at West Lyon that there were some “ghosts” to be dealt with – the biggest being the 3-0 loss West Lyon suffered at the hands of the E-Hawks in the 2008 State Championship game.
That ghost came out fairly early in Friday’s game, as the E-Hawks would take the opening kick and go nowhere, being forced to punt to the Wildcats.
With a 20-mile an hour wind at their backs, West Lyon ground their way down field, and with 5:19 to go in the first quarter, Trevor Snyders booted a 35 yard field goal to put the Wildcats up 3-0, a lead that would hold through the end of the first stanza of play.
The wind would play a key factor in Friday’s game, as nearly every kickoff was made with the wind, resulting in deep kickoff returns in the endzone for touchbacks at the 20. Emmetsburg and West Lyon would trade possessios and punts to end the first quarter with the E-Hawks facing a second and nine at their own 21 yard line, trailing 3-0.
The E-Hawks would get a crucial first down early in the quarter and would grind their way near midfield before having to punt. West Lyon would get the ball at their own seven yard line and tried to get out of the shadows of their goal posts.
The Wildcats managed to get to their 30, but faced a fourth and 11 and were forced to punt. On the punt, Ben McCain blew into the path of the ball and blocked the punt, which Emmetsburg got at the Wildcats’ 10-yard line with 5:22 to go in the half.
The big defensive play would be countered by an equally determined West Lyon defense, as Emmetsburg would settle for a field goal of their own, which McCain delivered from 25 yards away with 4:13 to go in the half to tie the score at 3-3.
West Lyon would get a first down and then be forced to punt as the clock wound down, and Emmetsburg would have one last hurrah before the intermission.
Starting at the 50-yard line after the punt, Cory Schultes lost 13 yards on a sack, setting up a third and 20 at the E-Hawks’ 40 yard line. A quick handoff to Marcus Akridge kept the drive alive with a first down at the Wildcat 40, and on the first down play, Schultes handed off to Andrew Wellik, who blasted to the E-Hawk sideline and raced 39 yards before being tackled at the one yard stripe.
On the next play, Wellik finished the job with a one yard plunge into the end zone for a 9-0 lead with :26 to go in the half. Ben McCain added the conversion kick and Emmetsburg held a 10-3 lead at the intermission.
But, everyone knows that anything can happen in football.
The third quarter turned into an exchange of punts and possessions, as both teams struggled offensively to move the ball against each others’ defenses.
Emmetsburg’s special teams came up with a big play on a punt that got a friendly bounce and appeared to be rolling out of bounds when Ryan Kliegl rocketed in and grounded the ball at the two-yard stripe to bury the Wildcats.
West Lyon would work its way out of the hole and got near midfield before punting to the E-Hawks. Starting at their own 45 with 5:14 to go in the quarter, Emmetsburg started grinding away once again, getting hard running efforts from Wellik and Marcus Akridge.
The efforts of the backs and the offensive line would be rewarded with 1:22 to go in the quarter as Wellik dived into the end zone from three yards out to score. Ben McCain added the point-after-touchdown kick to make the score 17-3 when the third quarter came to a close.
West Lyon would mount a scoring drive of their own in the fourth quarter that would be capped off by a two yard plunge by Cody Ahrendt and Snyders added the kick to cut Emmetsburg’s lead to 17-10 with 10:23 to play in the contest.
After an E-Hawk punt, West Lyon tried to mount a drive and would turn the ball over on downs after a big fourth and one stop by the E-Hawk defense at their 18 yard line.
The E-Hawks would try to work out of their territory, but another sack would end up forcing a punt with 300 to go in the game.
West Lyon took over at their 47 and used a quick 33 yard pass to get to the E-Hawk 20 with 2:38 to go in the game.
Just when it looked like the game might get really interesting, Emmetsburg’s Nick Wuebker stepped up and got to quarterback Cody Grotewold, dumping him for a loss and setting up a third and 10 at the 20.
The E-Hawk defense stood tough and on fourth and 10 at the 20, West Lyon went for the whole enchilada, putting up a pass to Adam Teunissen in the end zone that fell out of his grasp for the incompletion that turned the ball over on downs at the E-Hawks’ 20.
Emmetsburg came out with 1:09 to go in the game and demonstrated the victory formation with three snaps and Schultes taking a knee three times to ice the win.
Andrew Wellik led the offense with his 149 yards of 27 carries, while Marcus Akridge added 48 yards on 13 carries. Jake Carlson had one rush for no gain and Cory Schultes lost two yards on eight rushing attempts as Emmetsburg totaled 195 yards rushing on 49 plays. West Lyon gained 192 yards on 51 rushing plays.
Schultes completed one of four passes for three yards, with Jake Carlson making the lone reception.
West Lyon would complete three of six passes for 58 yards, giving the Wildcats a total offensive effort of 250 yards to the E-Hawks’ 198 yards.
While penalties had been a sticking point for the E-Hawks in previous games, Friday’s contest was relatively clean. Emmetsburg was whistled twice for a total of 20 yards, while West Lyon had one penalty for five yards.
Defensively, Emmetsburg got 14 tackles from Ryan Kliegl, while Bobby Gappa added 13 strops and Austin McCartan made 10 stops. Ben McCain tallied a blocked punt, while Marcus Akridge and Nick Wuebker both tallied quarterback sacks.
Emmetsburg will head west once again this Friday night when they travel to Sibley-Ocheyedan.