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Rebels shut out Raiders, 30-0

FULDA -- Playing under a full harvest moon Friday night on Fulda's Homecoming, Murray County Central won most of the battles at the line-of-scrimmage and claimed a 30-0 Little Sioux Conference high school football victory over the host Raiders.

In improving to 3-2 on the season, MCC capitalized on a trio of pass interceptions -- two of them in the first half, that both led to Rebel touchdowns -- and rushed for a total of 294 yards on 52 carries.

"Our line did a nice job on both sides of the ball," praised MCC head coach Chris Davis. "As our depth improves, we are able to utilize more players and many of our linemen are just playing one way -- which gives us a big advantage as the game wears on."

Fulda (0-5) played very well -- on both sides of the ball -- in the first quarter, as the Raiders moved the ball through the air and stopped the Rebels on MCC's first three possessions.

Aaron Leinen, a 152-pound junior quarterback, completed his first three passes and was four-for-five after a 20-yard completion to Chris Witzel helped spark Fulda's third drive.

"We knew that Fulda was going to pass, and we knew that they could cover the field on defense," noted Davis. "The Raiders have played good football against some good teams, and that was true for much of the game tonight."

Leinen and FHS Homecoming King Tom Kuhl connected on an 18-yard pass play on the Raiders' first play from scrimmage -- setting the tone for the first quarter.

After Fulda's opening drive stalled, MCC's Scott Veenhuis ripped off a 15-yard gain through the right side of the Rebel line -- as both teams made big gains on their first plays.

But most of the game's first 12 minutes was dominated by the defenses.

Neither team could sustain a drive, but the Raiders gradually began to win the field position battle.

The Fulda defense, in fact, backed MCC up to its own one-yard line with 1:02 to play in the quarter.

But a booming 51-yard punt by Rebel quarterback Kyle DeLong helped get MCC out of its own backyard, and the complexion of the game soon changed.

Fulda started its fourth possession with good field position at its own 48-yard line.

After heavy defensive pressure by MCC forced three straight Raider incompletions, Rebel defensive back Ben Clarke intercepted Leinen's shovel pass -- right in front of the Fulda sideline -- giving MCC the ball at the Raider 47 with 39 seconds remaining in the quarter.

"That was a big play," said Davis. "We put together a nice drive after that."

Starting with an 8-yard gain by Veenhuis and a 5-yard burst by Jeremy Storm, the Rebels began a time-consuming march that was capped by an 19-yard touchdown strike from DeLong to Paul Counter with 7:55 to play in the first half.

The game's first sustained drive covered 53 yards on 11 plays and chewed 4:44 off the clock.

Storm's two-point conversion run gave MCC an 8-0 lead.

Less than a minute later, MCC defensive back Mike Tentinger's interception gave the Rebels the ball at Fulda's 36-yard line.

This time it took only five plays for MCC to score, as Storm powered for six yards, Veenhuis rambled 18 yards on a reverse (putting the ball on the 11), Scott Beach plowed ahead for four yards, Veenhuis picked up another first down with a 7-yard gain, and Clarke scored the touchdown on a 1-yard quarterback keeper.

Eli Ackerman, a bruising 247-pound linebacker, took the carry for the two-point conversion, increasing MCC's lead to 16-0 with 5:58 to play in the half.

Ackerman made a big defensive play on Fulda's next series and the Raiders punted after facing a fourth-and-11.

Storm, who finished the game with 148 rushing yards on 17 carries, ripped off a 38-yard gain on MCC's first play of the next Rebel possession, moving the ball from their own 38 to the Raider 24.

A few plays later, the Rebels received a serious blow when Veenhuis (nine carries, 69 yards) left the game with a knee injury at the 3:40 mark.

Veenhuis left via ambulance, and his status was not known at game's end.

"We are very concerned for Scotty right now," said a subdued Davis after the game. "You just hate to see these kinds of injuries. He was apologizing for getting hurt and not being able to continue contributing."

After a 26-yard TD strike from Blaine Jacobson to Counter was nullified by a holding penalty -- which moved the Rebels back to Fulda's 44 -- Delong connected with Counter, who broke a pair of tackles and picked up 23 yards.

On fourth-and-six from the 21, DeLong found Storm for a 16-yard gain and the Rebels were knocking on the door again.

After a 2-yard gain by Ackerman, 268-pound MCC lineman Jeremy Peterson (who moved into the backfield as part of the Rebel "beast formation") powered in from a yard out and with 1:22 on the first half scoreboard, the Rebels held a 22-0 lead.

Fulda stopped the two-point conversion try and the Raiders came back with a solid third quarter -- keeping MCC from scoring, while moving the ball better themselves.

After a 14-yard pass completion from Leinen to David Crowley put the Raiders at midfield, Leinen gained several yards on the ground -- including a 6-yard scramble that gave Fulda a first down at MCC's 37.

But after a long pass play fell incomplete, the Raiders were forced to punt again and Fulda's Brady Spies delivered a good kick, pinning the Rebels at their own nine-yard line with 5:44 to play in the third quarter.

MCC mounted a nice drive, but Fulda's defense held on downs, giving the ball back to the Raiders.

Earlier in the quarter, Fulda's Derrick Hotovec had made a spectacular touchdown-saving tackle after a 37-yard gain by Storm.

At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the teams traded interceptions.

With 11:23 to play in the game, DeLong came up with MCC's third pick. Six seconds later, Fulda's Ryan Sinnamon intercepted a DeLong pass and the Raiders had the ball on the MCC 32-yard line.

The Rebel defense again held and eventually put together a long drive, capped by a 14-yard touchdown run by Josh Swanson -- who also ran in the two-point conversion -- with 1:49 showing on the clock, ending the game's scoring.

Leinen finished the game 11-of-26 for 103 yards with Kuhl making four catches for 46 yards. DeLong was 6-of-11 for 97 yards, as Counter caught three passes for 53 yards.

Fulda, which had just 21 net rushing yards on 18 carries, made six first downs in the game, compared to 20 by the Rebels.

MCC 0 22 0 8 -- 30

Fulda 0 0 0 0 -- 0