PREP FOOTBALL: E/E wins shootout over H-BC
EDGERTON -- It was a play Isaac Heard hadn't tried before.
But with the way it turned out, the junior on Edgerton/Ellsworth's football team might call it again.
Heard scored what proved to be the game-winning touchdown with 5:13 remaining in Saturday's Section 3 9-man semifinal playoff game against Hills-Beaver Creek as the Flying Dutchmen advanced to the section final with a 44-36 victory.
"It's the greatest feeling I've ever had," Heard said following the game. "I can't describe it, it's awesome."
The two teams combined for 992 yards, including 807 in the air in what started as a defensive battle and finished as a shootout.
"The one thing that we're fortunate enough to have is we have a good enough team with enough diversity that if you try to take away one thing, other things are going to be open," E/E head coach Andrew Fleischman said. "Lucky for us, Isaac did a really good job, our receivers ran great routes and our line gave Isaac time."
Heard finished 25-for-43 passing for 337 yards and five touchdowns. He also threw his first three interceptions of the year. On the ground, he had 52 yards on seven carries.
"I listened to coach, to just get rid of the ball and just have fun," Heard said. "He was like, 'Don't worry about mistakes and have fun.' I've never thrown an interception before and I threw three. But it didn't faze me at all."
But one of Heard's biggest plays came with his legs.
Leading by eight points late in the fourth quarter, Heard dialed up a new play.
"They were cheating so bad with our pulling guards," Fleischman said. "We just talked about it on the sideline. We had never worked on it in practice.
"It might stay. We might keep that one in there. It ended up working out pretty good."
Heard faked to Derek Voge, who was immediately stopped at the line of scrimmage.
"He didn't even tell me he was going to pull it out," Voge said. "Coach told him he wasn't going to give it to me. I thought I was going to get it the whole time. Then I got stuffed right up the middle as he pulled it out.
"I took the blame for it, you could say."
But Heard kept the ball and was wide open around the right side for a 37-yard touchdown.
"They've been flying to our motion the whole time, so I told coach, 'I'm going to keep it, no matter what,'" Heard said. "I decided to try it and it worked.
"Normally teams don't fly as much like that. But Hills, last time we beat them so much on that play, so this time it worked for a touchdown."
Trailing 44-28, H-BC went on a 13-play touchdown drive, which was capped by a touchdown pass from Jordan Larson to Taylor Reese (six receptions, 51 yards) with 1:19 remaining.
Dalton Bass caught the two-point conversion as the Patriots trailed by eight points.
H-BC attempted an onside kick, but E/E's Casey Schilling came up with the ball to seal the victory.
It was the final catch in what was a brilliant day for Schilling, who was playing his final home game.
"This is one of the best games I've ever played in," Schilling said. "You have to give them a lot of credit. They did not go down without a fight. I'm just glad we won the last game on this field in my senior year. It's a good feeling."
The 6-6 receiver had 12 receptions for 155 yards and two touchdowns as Heard's favorite receiver.
"Me and Casey had a little special chemistry going on today," Heard said. "We knew that slants were going to be open all day and they were. If Casey is open, I'm throwing it to him. Our other receivers are great, too, but if Casey is open, he's the one I'm throwing to."
On the other side, Larson had a career game himself.
The senior quarterback was 21-for-34 passing for 470 yards and four touchdowns.
"One thing about Larson that he did -- and that helped Bass underneath -- was that he bought time," Fleischman said. "All of a sudden, our defense gets more stretched out and now Bass has more lanes to run through. I don't know how many times I thought we had them sacked and he kind of snuck out of there."
Bass, who had rushed for more than 1,200 yards entering the game, was held to 62 yards on 18 carries. But he did plenty of damage in the passing game, catching six passes for 255 yards -- as he had 317 yards of total offense.
"I think it's a credit to what a good player he is," Fleischman said. "I thought we did a very good job on him in the run game. We really limited their run game. They got us spread out all over the place and when they could get it to him and he gets a seam, he's very, very dangerous. We're an aggressive defense and he really made us pay a couple of times."
The two defenses played well early as Heard found Devin Hulstein for a four-yard touchdown for the only scoring in the first quarter.
But both teams opened it up in the second.
Heard threw a four-yard touchdown pass to Voge (nine rushes, 63 yards, four receptions, 65 yards, 10 tackles) and the quarterback ran in the two-point conversion, giving E/E a 14-0 lead.
But two plays later, H-BC answered.
Larson connected with Brady Vaughn (four receptions, 89 yards) for a big 44-yard gain before Bass ran for a 45-yard score, cutting the deficit to 14-6.
The Patriots were driving on their next possession, but Voge recovered a fumbled pitch, giving the Dutchmen offense another opportunity.
And they didn't waste it.
Heard threw a 10-yard pass to Blake Jouwstra (eight catches, 101 yards) for a score and the two-point conversion went to Schilling, giving E/E a 22-6 lead.
Bass had a big 47-yard reception on the ensuing possession and capped the drive with a 28-yard touchdown grab in the final minute of the half. He ran in the conversion, but E/E had a 22-14 lead at the break.
"Coming into this game, I knew we could throw on them," H-BC head coach Rex Metzger said. "I knew we could stretch them deep. We had our screen game working a little bit and kind of had them on their heels at different times. Bass made a few big plays that put us right back in the game."
The Dutchmen scored on their first possession of the second half as Schilling caught a 16-yard touchdown, giving E/E a 28-14 lead.
"Isaac threw me great balls all night," Schilling said. "You have to give all the credit to him. It's pretty easy to catch it when he's putting it right on the dot."
H-BC scored a few minutes later as Larson threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to Seth Nuffer (three receptions for 76 yards), but the Patriots still trailed by eight points.
"Every time it seemed like we got ourselves in position to make a stop or make a big play, all of a sudden, we'd break a little bit and they would make a big play," Metzger said. "It seemed like the whole game, we were trying to scramble from behind."
Schilling caught a nine-yard touchdown pass four plays later as E/E increased its lead to 36-20.
"Casey is a phenomenal receiver," Fleischman said. "He runs routes, he catches the ball and he's so smart. He's very smart about what the defense is trying to do to him. Casey is as good of a big game player as there is, with all the experience he's had between here in football and obviously playing basketball. We always know in a big game in a big situation, we just count on him that he's going to make plays."
As the fourth quarter started, Bass scored on an 87-yard screen play and the two-point pass from Larson to Reese was good, bringing the Patriots within eight points, 36-28, with 8:48 remaining.
"It was more of a defensive breakdown," Voge said. "We didn't know who was on who. We were more concerned with Nuffer and the ends leaking out on us. We just overlooked (Bass).
"It was kind of like we would stop him five times, then he would get loose once. Then we'd stop him another five times and he'd get loose again."
Hulstein had a key interception on the next H-BC possession, setting up Heard's touchdown run.
The Patriots scored late, but fell one possession short to end their season with an 8-2 record.
"For both ends, it was a good game to be in," Metzger said. "They just made a few more plays than we did. We had some big plays, they had some big plays, but we just couldn't answer there at the end.
"I'm proud of our guys and proud of the way we played. They are a heck of a team. They are going to make a run deep in the playoffs."
Defensively, E/E's Johnny Menning had 10 tackles and three sacks, while H-BC's Taylor Leuthold (15 tackles), Bass (11 tackles) and Nuffer (six tackles) each had an interception.
The Dutchmen (10-0) will face Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley (9-0) at noon on Friday at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall. The Wolverines beat Fulda 28-0 on Saturday.
"We know they are good, but I think we can beat them if we execute on every level we have," Voge said.
H-BC 0 14 6 16 -- 36
E/E 6 16 14 8 -- 44