PREP FOOTBALL: Dutchmen fly to state
FARGO, N.D. -- Andrew Fleischman told Jordan Gunnink he needed to take control of the game. A senior on Edgerton/Ellsworth's football team, Gunnink did just that for his head coach. Gunnink ran for two touchdowns and caught another as the Flying ...
FARGO, N.D. -- Andrew Fleischman told Jordan Gunnink he needed to take control of the game.
A senior on Edgerton/Ellsworth's football team, Gunnink did just that for his head coach.
Gunnink ran for two touchdowns and caught another as the Flying Dutchmen earned a state berth with a 22-16 victory against Wheaton in the Section 3 9-man final Friday.
"Let's go have some fun, that's all I said," Gunnink said. "It's football, it's a section game in my senior year, I'll just go out and have fun, you can't be nervous."
Gunnink scored what proved to be the game winner with 7:49 remaining in the third quarter, and the Dutchmen defense did the rest.
"At halftime, I told him, 'You need to take it over,' and he did," Fleischman said. "He was running the ball and he just did a phenomenal job. At halftime I grabbed him and I said, 'You have to win it for us, you have to go get it,' and I think he did. He did a great job."
Gunnink finished with 90 yards rushing and 100 yards receiving as E/E punched a ticket to state for the first time since 2006.
"Coming up here and losing at Fargo last year was the worst feeling ever," E/E junior Casey Schilling said. "We got this close, and now that we got here and we finally won, it's just a great feeling."
In fact, the Fargodome hadn't treated the Flying Dutchmen well at all.
During their two previous trips, E/E had not only lost both times, but never had a lead in either game.
"To be honest with you, that's the first time we've been ahead in Fargo," Fleischman said. "We told them (Thursday) night and we told them this morning to expect good things to happen and something good happened. I thought we really built off of that."
The Dutchmen (11-0), who lost to Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley last year and Wheaton in '07 at the Dome, couldn't have picked a bigger way to take their first lead.
With the score tied at 8-all in the second quarter, quarterback Dylan Voge connected with Gunnink on an out-and-up route for a 79-yard touchdown strike.
"I think that helped, it boosted them up in the run game a little bit," Fleischman said of the long pass. "Getting Jordan over the top really forced their safeties to stay back a little bit. Early on, I thought their safeties were really flying up on the ball. We made them pay once and we had some chances later and we didn't quite protect Dylan and give him enough time."
But on that play, Schilling was running a comeback route, leaving room for Gunnink over the top.
"We haven't had a long pass for a while and me and Voge haven't all year," Gunnink said. "So it was kind of nice to have it happen at the Fargodome. Last year, we had the same thing against C-G-B and the exact same play. It worked again this year."
But from the beginning, the Dutchmen had to play from behind.
After forcing an E/E punt on the first possession, Wheaton, who entered the game ranked No. 6 in the state and with a perfect 10-0 record, went to work on its own 26-yard line.
The Warriors marched 74 yards in five minutes to pay dirt. Facing a fourth-and-five on the E/E 20, Wheaton quarterback Justin Lee found Riley Wilson for a touchdown. After the two-point conversion Wheaton had an 8-0 lead.
The Flying Dutchmen had a turnover on their next possession, but as time was winding down on the first quarter, E/E came alive.
Starting on their own 28, the Dutchmen mixed the run and the pass to march down the field.
A key 20-yard pass from Voge to Brady Timmer (two catches, 39 yards) moved E/E into Wheaton territory.
As the second quarter began, Gunnink capped the scoring drive with a three-yard touchdown, and after a two-point conversion pass to Schilling, the score was tied at 8-all.
E/E then connected for Gunnink's 79-yard bomb as it took the lead.
But that lead wouldn't last.
Normally a run-dominant team, Wheaton opened its passing game on the ensuing possession.
Lee connected on passes of 43 and 16 yards to move the ball down the field.
Wilson capped the drive with a one-yard plunge and followed with the two-point conversion, giving Wheaton a 16-14 lead heading into halftime.
"Really, in the first half, minus the last drive where they hit us deep a couple times in the b-gap, the only thing they really hurt us on was play action," Fleischman said. "We just needed to do a better job of knowing the down and distance and staying back. Our linebackers, even in passing situations, were really hugging. That's just because of what a good running game they had. We ran more three-man in the second half, which gives us a little better coverage and we blitzed a lot more in the second half."
E/E's adjustments worked.
Wheaton didn't score again in the game as the Dutchmen shut down the high-powered offense.
"We've been working real hard all week," E/E's Johnny Menning said. "We knew what we had to stop, we had to stop the run game. I feel we knew their offense fairly well."
The Warrior offense was run-oriented, using a triple-option attack.
"Coach just told us to go for one guy and hope you get the right one," Menning said.
At the end of the game, Menning got the right one.
E/E was stopped at the 1-yard line early in the fourth quarter, setting up Wheaton with the ball, seven minutes remaining and 99 yards to go for a game-tying touchdown.
As the Warriors were moving toward midfield, Menning started to disrupt the flow of the offense.
He blew up a sweep play, and followed with a sack, setting up a second-and-26 for Wheaton.
"Those were big momentum getters," Menning said. "They kind of stopped them, took their momentum away and gave us some more momentum."
Menning teamed with Wade Gunnink for another sack, and a desperation pass was batted down by Adam LaFollette as E/E took over with less than two minutes remaining.
All that was left was to run out the clock as the Flying Dutchmen advance to the state tournament.
"It means a lot," Fleischman said. "It's our first time in Section 3 and we have a lot of respect for this section. This section is a powerhouse. Wheaton would win a lot of sections. Hills would win a lot of sections and C-G-B would win a lot of sections. This is a tough 9-man section and it really means a lot to come through it."
Menning finished with a team-high 13 tackles and three-and-a-half sacks.
"I really didn't want to start basketball practice," Menning said. "I knew I had to work hard."
Jordan Gunnink and Derek Voge each made nine stops as the E/E defense limited the Warriors to 290 yards of total offense.
Dylan Voge completed 11 of 15 passes for 176 yards, with Jordan Gunnink hauling down three receptions for 100 yards.
Schilling had a team-best five catches for 37 yards.
"Our passing game is going really well," Schilling said. "Especially with turf in here, everything is so much faster and you don't have any wind that can affect it. Passing is a lot more efficient and it's easier. Voge is throwing the ball well, it makes it easy."
The Flying Dutchmen will face Section 1 champion Lanesboro -- which defeated Glenville-Emmons 52-8 -- in the state quarterfinals at 5 p.m. on Friday at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.
"We think we can match up with anybody," Fleischman said. "Wheaton, for us, is the worst matchup we could go against. They have a combination of size and strength. We just have to take it one game at a time, but our confidence is going to be high. It's very important for us to know that we can be in a battle and find a way to come through."
Wheaton 8 8 0 0 -- 16
E/E 0 14 8 0 -- 22