Back in the win column
STORM LAKE – It’s not very often a team loses the turnover and penalty battles and comes out with a victory, on the road no less.
While it wasn’t pretty, ELC scratched and clawed it’s way to a 20-14 victory on a rainy night in Storm Lake.
The Midgets mostly ugly first half, which included two fumbles, was sandwiched by two beautiful scoring drives on the first and last possessions of the half.
To open the game, ELC’s defense pushed Storm Lake back to it’s own 6-yard line. On third and 24, Jake Lange batted down a Bobby Brown pass over the middle to hold the Tornados to a three-and-out.
ELC took over at mid-field and after a drive mostly featuring Lange, the senior tailback took it in from 1 yard out, with 6:20 to go in the first quarter, giving ELC a 6-0 lead.
After each offense had a drive stalled near mid-field, ELC’s Adam McCarthy picked off a pass, giving the Midgets the ball at their own 46-yard line. However, the Midgets gave the ball right back on the next play. Dan Jones mishandled the Alex Ahrens hand off, and the Tornados took over at the 44-yard line.
After a nice drive by Storm Lake, Brown hooked up with split end Michael Ivey for an 18-yard touchdown strike with 9:15 to go in the half. Brown was flipped into the end zone by an ELC defender on the two-point conversion, to give Storm Lake the 8-6 lead.
The ensuing kick off was returned by Nathan Jensen to the ELC 43, but yet again a Jones fumble gave Storm Lake the ball at the 44-yard line.
The teams exchanged possessions and ELC took over at their own 24-yard line with 1:10 left to make something happen, and they did.
Lange opened the drive with a 27-yard run to the 50-yard line. Ahrens then completed two consecutive passes, the first a 12 yarder to Jensen and the second a 17 yarder to Lange, giving ELC the ball at the 20-yard line with 39 seconds to play in the half.
A counter play to Jensen got the Midgets down to the 5-yard line after an apparent block-in-the-back penalty was waived by the officials.
With 30 seconds to play, Ahrens dropped back to pass, then dashed forward for a gain of two yards.
After an ELC timeout with under :20 to play, Ahrens was sacked back to the 5-yard line. With the clock still running ELC got the following play off just in time. Ahrens dropped back to pass but failed to find an open receiver, he ran forward, diving for the pile on and scoring the TD as time expired, giving ELC a 12-8 lead entering the break.
“We had a pass called down there and we told Alex that we didn’t have enough time, so he couldn’t take a sack,” said ELC coach Chuck Fandel. “Sure enough he got sacked, but we were fortunate to get the play off in time and Alex made a great play to get it in the end zone for us.”
ELC’s drive stalled to open the second half of play and after taking over on their own 10-yard line, Storm Lake put together a 12 play, 90 yard drive that took 4:30 off the clock, capped off by a 4-yard Nolan Cone touchdown run with 3:33 to go in the third period, giving Storm Lake a 14-12 lead.
To start the fourth period, ELC put together another terrific drive, capped off by another Ahrens touchdown run from 6 yards out. Ahrens completed a pass to Lange for the 2-point conversion, giving ELC a 20-14 lead with 11:13 left in the game. The Midgets hunt onto that lead to get their first district win of the season.
“This was a great game for us to get over the hump,” Fandel said. “We’ve been competitive in a lot of games this year and I’m just excited for our seniors. Our kids never quit and they had the heart to keep coming back. My hats off to them.”
Lange went over 160 yards for the second straight week, leading ELC with 27 carries for 168 yards and a touchdown.
Ahrens carried the ball 11 times for 49 yards and two touchdowns. He was also 7-of-10 passing for 74 yards.
Jones carried the rock 10 times for 33 yards for the Midgets.
ELC’s defense held the potent Tornado offensive attack to just 182 total yards, 110 on the ground and 72 through the air.
ELC will close out their season next Friday at home versus LeMars.