E-Hawks Endure Heartbreak In Defensive Struggle
PAULLINA – The toughest loss is one by a single point.
In a defensive battle of two very evenly matched teams, Emmetsburg’s E-Hawks suffered that toughest loss in a 7-6 setback against South O’Brien in Paullina Friday night. The loss is Emmetsburg’s first setback in district play, and ties them with South O’Brien for the district lead going into the regular season finale` Friday night.
The E-Hawks will host LeMars Gehlen, who beat South O’Brien, while the Wolverines play Western Christian, so the district title is up for grabs.
Emmetsburg would get the ball to open the game and went three downs and punted in the face of a very determined Wolverine defense. After the punt, South O’Brien started at the E-Hawk 43 yard line with 10:16 to go in the first quarter.
Utilizing the runs of tailback Zach Nieman, South O’Brien ground their way downfield, and with 5:47 to go in the first quarter, Nieman ran in from four yards out to score. Nieman would then kick the extra point for a 7-0 South O’Brien lead as the E-Hawks took over.
The E-Hawks would struggle again on the offense on their possession, and were forced to punt again with 4:)8 to go in the quarter.
South O’Brien took over at their own 46, and once again, the Wolverines started riding the legs of Nieman downfield. After picking up a first down, the Wolverines continued to march, but on a third and four, a pass from Bret Purhmann to Kelvan Lansink was tipped away by the E-Hawks’ Brandon Elbert, and on fourth down, the E-Hawk defense stopped the Wolverines four yards behind the line of scrimmage to get the ball back.
Taking over at their own 28 yard line, Emmetsburg’s offense needed to find a spark and Allen Jensen delivered. Jensen would run three straight plays for two, five and four yards to pick up a first down just before the end of the first quarter.
Trailing 7-0 and facing third and 10 to start the second quarter, quarterback Zach Anderson hit Jensen with an eight yard screen pass, but the drive would end up in a punt that the Wolverines would field at their 17 yard line.
South O’Brien would take over with 11:09 remaining in the half, and started driving downfield once again as the E-Hawk defense battled on every play. But fate would deal a card as the Wolverines fumbled at their own 43 yard line with 10:19 to go in the half when Tyler Henson made the hit and fell on the loose ball.
With a gift in hand, Emmetsburg went to work. Allen Jensen made two runs and Zach Anderson hit Austin Krause with a 20 yard screen up the middle that put Emmetsburg on the 20 yard line. With the momentum swinging their way, the E-Hawk offense kept digging. Allen Jensen made two five-yard runs for a first down at the 10, and on then got to the Wolverine eight yard line.
A loss of yardage backed Emmetsburg up to the 10.
On third and goal at the 10, Zach Anderson tucked the ball in and broke to the right and dived into the endzone for an apparent touchdown with 7:13 to go in the half, but was slow to get up.
In the meantime, the E-Hawks had been whistled for holding on the play, negating the score and backing Emmetsburg up to the 25 yard line.
Anderson would come to the sidelines as backup quarterback Brandon Elbert moved in and quickly hit Jacob Kibbie with a 15-yard strike back to the 10 yard line, but facing fourth and goal, Coach Mike Dunlap sent kicker Jake Miller to try a 27 yard field goal, but the ball fell short to end a promising drive.
South O’Brien took over again at their 20 but would be forced to punt with 3:09 remaining in the half. The E-Hawks would start at their own 29 yard line after a holding penalty on the punt return, and after losing four yards on first down, Elbert handed off to Allen Jensen, who got a couple of key blocks to the left side and the race was on. Jensen used his speed to out run the South O’Brien defense for a thrilling 75-yard touchdown run with 2:12 to go in the half.
Emmetsburg elected to go for two points on the conversion, but Jacob Kibbie was tripped up a yard short, making the score 7-6 in favor of the Wolverines at the intermission.
The defenses would crank things up another notch on each side of the ball in the second half, as South O’Brien would get the ball and would use 4:30 of the quarter to get to the E-Hawks’ 26 yard line before turning the ball over on downs.
The E-Hawk offense took the field with Elbert at the helm as Anderson did not return, along with lineman Tanner Dahm, who had been injured in the first half.
Despite the adversity, Emmetsburg would get to their 40 before having to punt.
The two teams would then trade punts back and forth until the Wolverines ended up with the ball at their own 36 to end the third quarter still leading 7-6.
The E-Hawk defense would rise up again to start the final quarter, and forced a punt by the Wolverines with 10:51 to go in the game, giving Emmetsburg the ball at their own 15 yard line.
Emmetsburg started to drive down field, using power runs from Jensen, Greg Wesley and Aaron Bird down to the South O’Brien 39 when the game was stopped for an injury on the Wolverine sideline with 7:28 to go in the game.
The stoppage of play lasted nearly 5:00, which would take some of the momentum out of the E-Hawks as they waited for play to resume.
On third and one, Greg Wesley got the drive back in gear with a three yard gain for first down and Allen Jensen would pick up five tough yards before an offsides penalty moved the E-Hawks to the 27. Emmetsburg would get to the 21, but would lose ground and were turned away on downs with 3:49 to go in the game.
The Wolverines took over and started to drive, but on a second down at their own 30, an busted play saw the ball fly out of the quarterback’s hands and fly forward into the arms of a pair of E-Hawks for an apparent fumble recovery with 1:40 to go, but an official whistled the play dead in mid-stride, wiping out the outcome for motion on the Wolverines.
South O’Brien would end up punting and Emmetsburg took over at their own 26 yard line with 1:20 to go in the game.
On first down, Elbert’s pass for Kibbie was incomplete and on second down, Allen Jensen picked up four yards for third and six. Elbert would throw to Aaron Bird for a four-yard gain to the 28, but an offsides on the E-Hawks made the play fourth and seven. Elbert would keep the ball and picked up 12 yards for the first down but time would run out as the E-Hawks’ tasted the bitter one-point defeat.
The statistics showed a very even contest, with Emmetsburg gaining a total 226 yards and South O’Brien gaining 256 yards. Emmetsburg got 163 yards from Allen Jensen on 27 rushes, while Greg Wesley added 20 yards on five rushes. Aaron Bird picked up 10 yards on nine attempts, and Brandon Elbert gained 7 yards off five attempts. Zach Anderson added seven yards on one run and Tyler Henson added a three yard gain.
Zach Anderson would complete both of his attempts for 28 yards, with a 20 yard reception by Austin Krause and an eight yard catch by Allen Jensen, while Brandon Elbert connected on two of three for 19 yards, with a 15 yard catch by Jacob Kibbie and a four yard reception by Aaron Bird.
Defensively, Emmetsburg got 14 tackles from Greg Wesley, while Joel Hoyman racked up nine stops. Brandon Elbert had six tackles, while Shay Mortenson and Austin Krause both had five stops. Wesley Schultes and Aaron Bird would make four tackles each and Tyler Henson had three stops and a fumble recovery, while Zach Anderson, Luke Jackson, Allen Jensen and Erik Drost all added three tackles.
Emmetsburg will host Gehlen Catholic of LeMars this Friday and must win in order to ensure a District Championship with the post season set to begin four days later on Wednesday, Oct. 30.