PREP FOOTBALL: To the house and to the DomeMARSHALL — The Edgerton/Ellsworth Flying Dutchmen had big plans for the start of the second half in the state quarterfinals against Nicollet last Friday.
By: Jocelyn Syrstad, Worthington Daily Globe
MARSHALL — The Edgerton/Ellsworth Flying Dutchmen had big plans for the start of the second half in the state quarterfinals against Nicollet last Friday.
As the special teams unit prepared to go out on the field to retrieve the kickoff, coach Andrew Fleischman told his boys that they were going to “take it to the house and score a touchdown” on the first play.
And that’s exactly what happened.
E/E sophomore Jorge Lopez snagged the ball and 69 yards later he was celebrating in the end zone with his teammates, putting the Dutchmen up 14-6 after the ensuing two-point conversion to break the 6-6 first half tied and change momentum.
“That was the best,” Lopez said. “All I was thinking was to keep running. It felt good because I wanted to get a touchdown for my team.”
But the play didn’t go as the Dutchmen had planned.
During halftime, Fleischman set up a play — figuring Nicollet would squib the kick — that was intended to go to Jorge’s older brother, Omar.
The elder Lopez had already made an impact in the game, intercepting a Sean Murphy pass with just more than four minutes left in the first half to give the Dutchmen another chance at the end zone.
But despite that, when the younger Lopez grabbed the ball at the start of the third quarter and took it home, no one on the E/E sideline was complaining.
“Whatever Lopez gets in the end zone, we’ll take it,” Fleischman said. “We were at a point, I told them at the half, where we just needed something good to happen and for someone to make that happen. Luckily for us, Jorge did just that.”
After that kickoff return, it was a completely different game for the Dutchmen.
Wide receiver Devin Hulstein went on to score a touchdown in both the third and fourth quarters. He also recorded an interception in the third.
E/E (12-0) ended up winning the quarterfinal matchup 28-12, but with how the Dutchmen played in the first half, it didn’t look promising they would advance to the next round.
“If they didn’t start believing in themselves and understanding that we’ve been preparing for a game like this — a four-quarter battle — nothing we talked about was going to matter,” Fleischman said. “In the first half we played tight, we played like we had something to lose and we didn’t take advantage of opportunities to stretch our lead. The noose got tight on us.”
Prior to halftime, the Dutchmen turned the ball over three times — twice on Isaac Heard interceptions and once on a fumble — and scored their only first-half touchdown just three minutes into the game.
Despite Omar Lopez’s second quarter interception and a handful of successful defensive stands, the Dutchmen couldn’t make anything happen offensively.
But Jorge Lopez’s return changed all of that and E/E will travel to the Metrodome Friday to play in the state semifinals against Ada-Borup.
“That was huge. Jorge set the tone for the rest of the game, he made it happen,” Hulstein said. “The energy shifted so fast. Jorge broke through the middle and our mindset just completely changed.
“We weren’t playing our regular Dutchmen football up to that point, and that play right there changed everything.”