WALL LAKE - After taking a 6-0 lead in the first quarter, Estherville Lincoln Central stretched its lead with a pair of quick scores to start the second half. That proved to be the difference as the Midgets won the first district game of 2013 with a 27-12 win over East Sac County.
ELC coach Andy Umthun said before last week's Algona game, the Midgets had had the worse practice of the season.
"Practice went a lot better this past week and I thought it showed," said Umthun.
In a first half filled with turnovers, ELC scored the lone touchdown as Justin Heinrichs connected with brother Joe on a 23-yard fourth-down pass with 1:58 left in the first quarter.
East Sac County's best football of the first half came on the opening drive as the Raiders drove into ELC territory. But the Midgets came up with the key stops to take over on downs.
Midway through the second quarter, the two teams traded fumbles. ELC had an opportunity to score late in the half with the ball inside the Raider 25 with 25 seconds remaining.
But a couple plays that went the wrong way kept the score at 6-0.
ELC had most of its yards through the air in the first half as Justin Heinrichs was 9-of-19 for 113 yards.
Defensively, Roderick Fuller had an interception.
Meanwhile, East Sac had 77 yards on the ground in the first half with just one completion for 12 yards.
"The first half was a little sloppy on both sides," said Umthun. "Both teams combined for five or six turnovers.'
But the second half was a different story. Billy Snyder fake reversed the opening kickoff and went 85 yards down the sideline. Anthony Segura's PAT kick made it 13-0.
Justin Heinrichs picked off an East Sac County pass on the Raiders' next drive. ELC took advantage of a short field and a few plays later, Avery Hansen ran into the end zone on an option pitch reverse from 13 yards out.
Down 20-0, East Sac County put together a drive and a 32-yard pass from Ty Jacobsen to Carter Niehaus to the 1-yard line set up a 1-yard run by Alex Green.
ELC also had an answer though and ELC used a 27-yard connection between Justin Heinrichs and Joe Heinrichs. A few plays later, Justin ran the ball in from 1-yard out with 7:48 left in the fourth quarter.
East Sac County put together another drive, but this time it was stopped by Joe Heinrichs made a one-handed interception catch in the end zone.
The two teams battled up and down the field a couple more times with East Sac county scoring on a 7-yad touchdown by Nick Snyder with 10 seconds remaining for the final score.
Coach Umthun was happy with his team's defensive effort.
"I couldn't be more pleased with the defensive and in their improvement from one week to the next," said Umthun.
Unofficially, ELC rushed the ball 39 times for 63 yards. Snyder led the way with 64 yards on 20 carries while Hansen had one carry for 13 yards.
Justin Heinrichs was 14-of-25 passing for 198 yards. Besides Joe Heinrichs, Fuller, Hansen and Carsten Bosch all caught passes.
East Sac County also rushed the ball 39 times for 177 yards. Jacobsen was 5-of-15 passing for 79 yards.
ELC (2-1 overall, 1-0 in district play) is on the road against Clarion-Goldfield next Friday.