Unseat Defending State Champs
The cold, hard, truth of the matter on Monday night was simple. Emmetsburg manhandled West Lyon in a 35-0 shutout win over the defending state champions.
But the real story is how the E-Hawks built off a disappointment a year ago to put together a lopsided win that saw West Lyon on the losing side of a continuous clock for the entire second half of Monday’s game, something the Wildcats were not accustomed to.
A year ago, West Lyon sent Emmetsburg home with a 21-13 loss in the quarter final playoff game. But on Monday, it was the Wildcats making the long, quiet, bus ride home, with lots of time to reflect on a season, while the E-Hawks celebrated quickly and then began to think about their next task – Semi-final playoff action this Saturday at 12 noon in the UNI Dome.
The bid for a tenth “Gold Cadillac” began with the defense setting the tone of the game from the opening kickoff on Monday.
West Lyon would take the opening kickoff at their own 16 yard line, but would end up with a fourth and two and a punt off the first possession. The ball was downed at the E-Hawks’ 47 yard line as the offense took to the field for the first time.
On first down, quarterback Ryan Kliegl handed off to Brady Berkland, who scooted left and found some green – a whole lotta green, as in 53 yards worth, all the way to the end zone for a touchdown with 9:51 to go in the opening quarter. Zach Overberg booted the extra point kick and that quick, the E-Hawks were off to the races.
West Lyon would get the ball at their own 22 and once again, went three and out for a punt.
Taking over at their 41, Emmetsburg started a time-consuming drive downfield, highlighted by a pair of first downs and a run by Cody Henderson down to the three-yard line before Andrew Wellik would bull in from three yards out to score. Overberg’s kick made the score 14-0 with 4:01 to play in the opening quarter as the E-Hawk Express looked to be building up a full head of steam.
For a third time in the quarter, West Lyon would take the kick and start this time at their own 31, but would only gain five yards to end up punting again against the determined E-Hawk defense.
Emmetsburg would get the ball back at their own 34 and worked out to their 45 as the quarter ended.
As the second quarter began, the E-Hawks would get to the Wildcats’ 45, but came up inches short on a fourth down conversion to turn the ball over to West Lyon.
The Wildcats tried to use the possession to their benefit, but on third down, a pass by the Wildcat’s Brandon Snyder was picked off by Ryan Kliegl at the E-Hawks’ 36 yard line to kill the drive.
Taking over after the turnover, Kliegl directed the E-Hawks downfield, using runs by Marcus Akridge and Brady Berkland to march to the other end of the field. After a keep by Kliegl got the E-Hawks to the Wildcat 20, it was Berkland’s turn and he burst into the end zone from 20 yards out for his second score of the game. The kick by Overberg was right down the pipe to make the score 21-0 with 6:30 to go in the half.
Disaster struck the Wildcats on the resulting kick, though, as Tyler Kruse fielded the ball but lost it when he was hit by Nick Schany. The fumble was recovered by Ryan Kliegl at the Wildcat 28 yard line.
With excellent field position, the E-Hawks capitalized quickly. A little trickery had Berkland take the handoff and then set up and throw to Kliegl for a 10 yard reception.
Andrew Wellik would get the nod and took the ball down to the three yard line. After being stopped once, Wellik bulled into the endzone again from three yards out for the score. Overberg added the kick and a 28-0 lead belonged to the E-Hawks with 5:03 to go in the half.
After taking over at their own 18 yard line, the Wildcats earned their first-first down of the game on the possession, The Wildcats would get a second first down on the drive, getting to their own 42 yard line before an illegal shift penalty negated a nine-yard pass to Adam Teunissen.
After the penalty, the Wildcats would stall at the 42 and turned the ball over on downs to the E-Hawks with 1:35 to go.
Starting at the West Lyon 40 yard line, Emmetsburg started grinding away again. A quick pass from Kliegl to Berkland picked up 29 yards down to the 11. From there on, it was all Berkland with runs of six yards and four yards before he crossed into the end zone from a yard away. Zach Overberg put the kick through the uprights for a 35-0 lead with :37 to go in the half.
West Lyon would get the ball at their 28 yard line, and would get one play off to end the half looking at the unfamiliar side of a 35-0 score at the intermission.
The second half opened with the clock running continuously and Emmetsburg taking the kick at their own 26 yard line. But the E-Hawks would turn the ball over when Marcus Akridge was hit and lost the football, which was recovered by the Wildcats at Emmetsburg’s 31 yard line.
West Lyon would be unable to capitalize on the gift and would turn the ball over on downs at the E-Hawk 24 with 7:49 on the clock. The E-Hawks took over, only to go three downs and punt, putting the Wildcats at their 46 yard line. Another three downs and a punt would result and Emmetsburg started at their own eight yard line before ending the quarter at their own 18.
Starting the final quarter at their own 18, Emmetsburg would end up going three downs and punting to the Wildcats. West Lyon started at their 28 yard line but a sack of Meyer by Marcus Akridge would force a punt on fourth and 11.
It was three and out for the E-Hawks on their possession and the defensive reserves took over for Emmetsburg as West Lyon got the ball at their 46 yard line.
The Wildcats started to drive but a hit by Tyler Henson forced a fumble that was recovered by Tony Henson with 2:10 to go. A penalty on West Lyon moved Emmetsburg to the Wildcats’ 36 and as the clock wound down, the E-Hawks took a knee to end the game with the shutout victory.
Emmetsburg’s domination of the game was most obvious in allowing West Lyon just two first-downs in the contest, while the E-Hawks racked up 15.
Emmetsburg rushed the ball 49 times for 258 yards, while West Lyon made 23 carries to gain 48 yards. Ryan Kliegl completed one of two passes for 29 yards and Brady Berkland made one pass for 10 yards to give the E-Hawks 39 yards in the air, while West Lyon had three of 10 passes with one interception for 15 yards, giving the Wildcats a total offensive performance of just 63 yards, compared with Emmetsburg’s total offensive effort of 295 yards.
Brady Berkland would rush 13 times for 107 yards while Andrew Wellik added 16 carries for 76 yards. Marcus Akridge ran 13 times to gain 43 yards and Ryan Kliegl added six carries to pick u 18 yards.
For West Lyon, Kaleb Heyer was the leading rusher with nine carries for 24 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, Emmetsburg was led by Jake Jackson and Brady Berkland, as they each collected eight tackles. Austin McCartan and Andrew Garrelts both made five tackles in the win, while Marcus Akridge had three stops with a quarterback sack and Tyler Henson and Ryan Kliegl both recovered fumbles, with Kliegl intercepting a pass for the E-Hawks.
But in what may be a most telling stat, Emmetsburg won the battle of possession time, caring for the pigskin 29;06 of the game, while West Lyon had just 18:54 of possession in the game.
“We had a great team effort and came out ready to play,” said E-Hawk Head Coach Mike Dunlap, “We always want to set the tone early, and I was really proud of our kids.”
“We played well in all phases of the game – offense, defense and special teams,” Dunlap added. “I thought our defense really did an excellent job to hold them down.”
But the time to celebrate is short, as the E-Hawks make their return to the State Semi-finals this Saturday at 12 noon by taking on the Falcons of Council Bluffs St. Albert’s, who defeated Logan-Magnolia 35-7 on Monday night.
St. Albert’s, a state semi-finalist last year until falling to West Lyon, is also undefeated on the season.