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Unhappy homecoming

WORTHINGTON -- The Worthington High School homecoming crowd was treated to a fine running performance Friday night. Unfortunately for the Trojans, it was turned in by Luverne Cardinal halfback Derek Elbers. The 165-pound senior rushed for 191 yar...

WORTHINGTON -- The Worthington High School homecoming crowd was treated to a fine running performance Friday night.

Unfortunately for the Trojans, it was turned in by Luverne Cardinal halfback Derek Elbers. The 165-pound senior rushed for 191 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries in leading the Cardinals to a 32-7 Southern Minnesota Alliance Conference football victory.

Elbers' total was part of the Cardinals' 372 offensive yards on the night. With a punishing push from the line, Luverne (3-2) moved the ball at will.

"I can't say enough about the play of our line tonight -- on both sides of the ball," Luverne head coach Todd Oye said following the game. "The battle on the line is usually what will determine the outcome of the game, and we won that battle tonight."

Defensively, the Trojans (2-3) were simply blown off the line much of the night. And once the Luverne backs blasted past the front, the Trojans had difficulty tackling the Cardinals' powerful rushers.

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"They just dominated us, so what do you say or what do you do," a visibly discouraged Worthington head coach Dennis Hale said. "It wasn't about Xs and Os as it physically was a mismatch."

While Elbers carried much of the load on the ground, sophomore running back Phillip Paquette contributed with 39 yards on five carries and quarterback Jeremy Hoff rushed twice for 23 yards and a score.

The junior also completed 5 of 7 passes for 94 yards and a TD. Senior tight end Andrew DeBoer was the recipient of Hoff's touchdown toss from 31 yards out. The well-balanced air attack saw four other receivers -- Weston Sawtelle, Mitch Bauman, Derek Boeve and Jake Clark -- make catches for Luverne.

"Jeremy has been making some nice decisions and our receivers have done a good job blocking as well as catching balls," Oye said.

On Luverne's first offensive series of the game, the Trojans bent a little without breaking. Senior tackle Bryant Schroeder made a terrific hit on Elbers to stall the drive at the Trojan 44. The Cardinal defense quickly returned the favor, forcing a three-and-out to gain control of the ball.

On its second possession, Luverne mixed the run and pass well -- earning a first down on the Trojan 12. Hoff went in from there -- virtually untouched by the Trojan defense -- to score with 5:51 remaining in the opening quarter. Chris Engesser was true on the PAT and the Cardinals had a 7-0 advantage.

The Trojans shot themselves in the foot with penalties following the score, quickly relinquishing possession.

Elbers and Paquette did the work as the Cardinals moved from midfield to the Trojan 13 in four plays. Elbers scampered in from there to give the Cardinals a 13-0 lead with 16.6 seconds left in the period.

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The Trojans, meanwhile, tried to mix things up a bit to open the second quarter -- inserting running back Nate Stoll at quarterback in hopes of changing the flow. Unfortunately for the senior, his first pass attempt was picked off by Clark at the Luverne 23.

The Luverne offensive line was akin to a steamroller on the Cardinals' next drive, flattening defenders and opening up huge holes for Elbers to pilot the machine down to the Trojan 2. With the exception of an 11-yard completion to Boeve, Elbers gained all the acreage -- capping off the 77-yard drive with a 2-yard plunge with 5:19 left in the half.

"The line did a great job all night long," Elbers said. "They work hard day in and day out. When you carry for that many yards, you have to give them the credit."

Hoff and DeBoer finished the scoring in the first half with a 31-yard TD connection and the Cardinals took a 25-0 lead into the locker room.

With 2:59 left in the third quarter, Elbers would score his second TD of the night on a 15 yard scamper around the right side -- giving Luverne a 32-0 lead.

Stoll, who finished the night as the Trojans' leading rusher with 118 yards on 20 carries, managed to find the goal line to open the fourth quarter. His score cut the deficit to 32-7 as John Mead was good on the PAT. Mead also caught two passes for 24 yards on the night, while Tom Mammen gained 35 yards on two receptions.

Junior running back Tim Roos gained 47 yards on 11 carries for the Trojans and Neal Melton rushed six times for 20 yards.

Starting quarterback Quentin Dudley completed 4-of-7 passes for 55 yards and threw an interception, while Stoll (1-of-5) and sophomore quarterback Mike Vorwald (1-of-6) each threw an interception.

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The Trojans travel to Waseca next week, while the Cardinals host Mound-Westonka.

Luverne 13 12 7 0 -- 32

Worthington 0 0 0 7 -- 7

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