Midgets show mettle in Homecoming melee
For more than a half, Estherville Lincoln Central played even with Class 3A No. 1 Bishop Heelan.
The Crusaders didn’t take their first lead until the 5:34 mark of the third quarter.
ELC, playing without starting quarterback Alex Arends throughout the second half, couldn’t gain any field position against Heelan. Turnovers and a short field led to two more quick scores before the end of the third quarter as the visitors suddenly led 28-7.
The Crusaders tacked on two more scores in the final quarter to leave town with a 41-7 victory.
“The kids hung in there and we were able to throw the ball a little bit. When we were able to mix it up, we had a chance,” said ELC coach Jerry Shultz.
ELC played a near perfect first half and got most of the breaks. Except for one mistake, the Midgets may have taken a 7-0 halftime lead.
The first break for ELC came after Bishop Heelan’s all-star, Brandon Wegher, found room down the Midgets’ sideline for an apparent 54-yard touchdown run.
A holding call brought that play back though and ELC forced the Crusaders to punt.
The Midgets picked up a first down on a pass from Alex Arends to Chance Moore, but they also had to punt.
Shortly thereafter, Wegher grabbed a pass intended for Dylan Sievert, but he was called for pass interference as ELC kept the drive alive.
Jordan Eggers got the ball the next two times and ran 18 yards to the Heelan 24. A face mask penalty against the Crusaders on the next play, gave ELC the ball at the 11.
ELC couldn’t take advantage in the red zone though as they had to delay of game penalties.
Heelan took over and drove to midfield before the end of the first quarter.
On the second play of the second quarter, Sievert stepped in front of a Zach McCabe pass around the ELC 40 and returned it to the Crusader 20, giving his team another chance to score.
Moments later, Sievert caught a pass from Arends at the 7-yard line. Eggers ran the ball to the 1-yard line and on third down, Arends scored on the quarterback keeper with 8:44 in the half. The Cody Baker kick was good as ELC led 7-0.
On the kickoff, Kyle Grems slipped. One of Bishop Heelan’s front line players tried to field the kick, but ELC’s Jordan Doyle recovered the ball to give the Midgets another opportunity.
On this drive, Arends connected with Joel Christensen to take the ball to the Heelan 25.
But the Crusaders sacked Arends and ELC eventually turned the ball
over on downs.
Bishop Heelan then drove to midfield and ELC forced a fourth down, but on the punt attempt, the Crusaders passed to TJ Obermeyer for a first down.
On the next play Wegher broke through for his first score of the night, a 23-yard scamper through the middle of the ELC defense.
The kick tied the score at 7-7 and that was the way the half ended.
The Midgets had the ball first in the second half, but were forced to punt. Heelan promptly drove down to the goal line. At the doorstep, the Crusaders fumbled the ball with Aaron Andrews falling on the ball for the Midgets.
However, ELC fumbled three plays later and the Crusaders Sean Keane scored from 4-yards out.
ELC was forced to punt on its next possession and this time Wegher broke free from 27-yards out.
The Midgets again didn’t have good field position on their next possession. This time, McCabe connected with Keane on a 7-yard strike with 23 seconds left in the quarter.
Wegher scored his third touchdown in the with 9:38 remaining, this one from 5-yards out.
Preston Ives completed the scoring for Heelan with a 60-yard punt return.
Heelan finished with an unofficial 202 yards rushing-189 by Wegher.
McCabe was 7-10 passing for 65 yards.
For ELC, Eggers rushed 24 times for 77 yards while Jake Lang had 12 yards on four carries and Bradon Held had 10 yards on three carries.
But the Midgets’ quarterbacks were sacked for losses and ELC ended with just 42 yards on the ground.
Chance Moore, stepping in for Arends, was 3-5 passing for 47 yards. Arends was 3-4 for 26 yards.
“Our kids gave a great effort tonight and came out with a great attitude. Hopefully, they came out next week with an even greater attitude,” said Shultz.
ELC (2-2, 0-2) travels to Spencer next Friday.