Yes it was Home, sweet home!
A defense that bent, but didn’t break and a solid running game gave Estherville Lincoln Central a decisive 20-3 win over Denison-Schleswig on Friday.
The Midgets running game worked to perfection in the first half as ELC built a 14-3 lead.
However, an interception by Jordan Eggers followed by a 99-yard, 8 minute-14 second drive in the fourth quarter put the game out of reach.
The Midgets set the tone early in the ball game.
Although both teams went three plays and out on their first possessions, ELC got the first break.
On ELC’s punt, Keith Fandel kicked a line-drive that took a Midget bounce past the Monarch return man. He picked the ball up, but a hard hit jarred the ball loose and Nathan Hecht recovered for ELC at the Denison-Schleswig 25.
A couple runs by Eggers and the Midgets were knocking on the door at the 5-yard line. Alex Arends kept the ball on an option play and broke a pair of tackles to reach the endzone with 6:03 remaining in the first quarter.
Although the two-point conversion pass failed, ELC held a 6-0 lead.
“We needed something good to happen early and then needed to capitalize on it and we did that,” said ELC coach Jerry Shultz.
Although the Monarchs came up with a couple first downs, the Midgets defense stopped the visitors at midfield after a sack by Arends.
The second quarter didn’t start well for ELC as the Monarchs’ John Blum picked off an Arends’ pass. But Denison-Schleswig went three plays and out .
ELC again started a drive at the 20-yard line after the punt went into the endzone.
But the Midgets running game kicked in big time with Eggers and fullback Keith Fandel running mostly up the middle of the bigger Monarch defensive line.
ELC drove down to the 6-yard line when Arends attempted a pass to Jeremy Hunt. The Monarchs were called for interference and ELC had first and goal at the 4-yard line.
But a motion penalty followed by a holding penalty suddenly had ELC at first and goal from the 19-yard line.
A screen pass to Eggers got the Midgets back to the 10 -yard line. On third down, Arends was sacked back to the 12-yard line
On fourth down, Arends threw the ball up for the 6-foot-4 Dylan Sievert, who went up and grabbed the ball over the smaller defender.
“I told him on the sideline, ‘if we’re going to throw that, you have to go up and get it,’ and he said he would,” said Shultz.
ELC again went for the two-point conversion and Arends found a wide-open Hunt to give the Midgets a 14-0 lead.
The Monarchs weren’t done yet in the first half as they took the next drive deep into ELC territory.
Denison-Schleswig appeared to be in business when quarterback Ricky Torres completed a 20-yard pass to Kerry Fineran on a third down and 18 to the ELC 10-yard line.
But the Midget defense came up big with a sack by Kyle Grems and Dan Jones. A pass into the endzone was incomplete and the Monarchs had to settle for a 47-yard field goal by Jacob Feller.
The third quarter belonged mostly to the Monarchs, but the Midget defense kept the visitors out of the endzone.
When Eggers intercepted a pass in the endzone early in the fourth quarter, he came out enough that the ball was marked on the 1-yard line.
Eggers, Arends and Fandel again went to work as the Midgets went 99 yards ending with an Eggers 15-yard touchdown run with 2:38 remaining in the game.
The Monarchs’ last gasp came to naught as Joel Christensen stripped a receiver after a completed pass. Fandel recovered the fumble to wrap up the win.
Unofficially, Fandel had 97 yards rushing on 15 carries. Eggers had 88 yards on 24 carries and Arends had 54 yards on 10 carries.
Arends was 6-of-9 passing for 52 yards.
Sievert caught one pass for 23 yards, Hunt had three catches for 19 yards and Eggers had one catch for 10 yards.
“We played with some emotion and the kids stepped up and made some big plays,” said Shultz. “We’ve talked about it the last couple weeks and the kids know this was a totally different team tonight.”
ELC (3-4, 1-4) is home against Storm Lake next Friday.