MLA rules in Edgerton
EDGERTON — Mountain Lake Area has gotten used to earning big leads early in games and keeping them. They’re unbeaten, in part, because of it.
Friday night proved itself no differently for the No. 3 ranked Wolverines, as they survived their tallest 9-man test thus far, 48-18, against fellow third-ranked Edgerton/Ellsworth on the road.
The win pushes the maroon and white to 7-0 while E/E falls to 6-1.
“It was really huge for us to get a big lead, because they’re a strong and physical team,” MLA coach Tim Kirk said. “We did struggle in stopping them, but we’re a quick strike offense. We came out right away and got that lead.”
MLA put together a big drive early, marching down field and converting on third-and-long and on fourth down to take an early 6-0 edge on a keeper by quarterback Carter Kirk.
The 6-foot-7 230-pound Kirk found success in the first half on the ground, through the air, and on the defensive line, as his team ripped off 22 unanswered points.
MLA’s senior tailback, Andrew Hempeck, took the ball 66 yards to the house on the first play of his club’s next drive to reach the end zone for the first of three times on the night.
“Our line was fantastic and we worked well as a team. I give credit to everyone, from the coaches down to the special teams,” Hempeck said. “This was a good team we played, very well coached, and it will be interesting if we have to play them again.”
The hometown Flying Dutchmen scooped up a muffed MLA kickoff return in the second quarter for a first down, and suddenly they had a spark of life. It was to no avail though, and MLA’s Kirk put on another score on the board to extend the advantage before halftime.
The Dutchmen found the end zone with 5:50 left in the second period, on a rush by fullback Tyler Kurrasch. They added another with Austin Rostkamp just 2:20 later, as they trailed 28-12 at halftime.
“I thought our guys played hard and we did a lot of nice things,” E/E coach Andrew Fleischman said after the game. “Mountain Lake has a phenomenal team and they executed very well. When their offense gets going like that, they’re very hard to stop.”
MLA put up an insurance score in the closing seconds of the first half and carried the momentum into the third quarter. Kirk connected with Hempeck with 8:23 left in that third frame for a score, and Hempeck intercepted the Dutchmen on their next drive to remain in the driver’s seat.
E/E recovered a fumble to take over at its own 35 yard line late in the third quarter, and the hometown crowd watched their Dutchmen plow down field to a pitch-and-score from two yards out by Kurrasch on the opening play of the closing frame.
Mountain Lake iced the win with a pair of scores late in the fourth quarter to remain unbeaten.
Hempeck led the Wolverines with 16 carries for 168 yards and two scores, while Kirk finished with 19 carries for 118 yards and a pair of scores. Kirk was 7-of-11 for 172 yards and two touchdowns through the air. Eric Wenner, a junior for MLA, was on the receiving end of one of those, for a 53-yard touchdown. Senior Alex Gerdes had two catches for 41 yards on the night for the Wolverines.
Defensively, both Hempeck and senior Jose Gonzalez accentuated the win with interceptions.
Mountain Lake now prepares for a home contest on Wednesday against Fulda. Edgerton/Ellsworth travels to Cleveland the same night.
“I don’t know if the wind tonight was a huge factor,” coach Kirk said. “I don’t know if it helped us or hurt us, but it definitely makes a coach think we overcame and that we did a great job.”
MLA 14 14 7 3 — 48
E/E 0 12 0 6 — 18