PREP FOOTBALL: Luverne knocks off Harrisburg 36-22
LUVERNE -- Effectively utilizing their versatility and receiving solid contributions from a number of players Friday night, the Luverne Cardinals opened the 2012 high school football season with a well-balanced 36-22 victory over the Harrisburg (S.D.
LUVERNE -- Effectively utilizing their versatility and receiving solid contributions from a number of players Friday night, the Luverne Cardinals opened the 2012 high school football season with a well-balanced 36-22 victory over the Harrisburg (S.D.) Tigers in a non-conference game at Cardinal Field.
Seniors Brett Heronimus and Skyler Wenninger spearheaded an impressive dual-quarterback system for Luverne, helping the Cardinals generate 392 total yards of offense (233 rushing, 159 passing) and reach the end zone five times with four different players.
Senior Wyatt Aubert (seven carries for 35 yards) scored a pair of touchdowns for the Cardinals, while Heronimus, senior Matt Arends and junior Gunnar Olson each scored once to boost Luverne to leads of 7-0, 13-7 (at halftime), 21-7, 28-14 and 36-14.
Harrisburg also featured a balanced offensive attack, although it was not as potent as Luverne's. The Tigers passed for 106 yards and rushed for 103 yards to finish with 209 yards overall, as the Cardinals were steady defensively for the most part.
"We're very happy with the way we played on both sides of the ball tonight," Luverne head coach Todd Oye said after the game. "This is the first time that we have defeated Harrisburg at home since we started playing them in 2006, and they always have a very good team. This year is no exception, as we knew this was going to be a challenge and we came out ready to match their effort and intensity."
Luverne takes 13-7 halftime lead
After a scoreless first quarter in which the two teams combined for five defensive stops, Luverne got on the board first on the second play of the second quarter to take a 7-0 lead.
The Cardinals, who had the only real scoring threat in the opening period when an eight-play, 45-yard drive stalled at the Tigers' 15-yard line, started their third possession of the game at their own 39 with 2:31 on the clock.
With Heronimus and Wenninger alternating snaps at quarterback and running back, Luverne marched 61 yards on nine plays to reach the end zone. Wenninger (3-for-8 passing, 69 yards; nine carries for 54 yards) completed an 11-yard pass to senior Jonny Solma and also gained six yards on a run to the right to trigger the series.
Heronimus (6-for-9 passing, 90 yards; 12 carries for 45 yards) later connected with Arends for a six-yard gain and then fired a 23-yard strike to senior Matt Overgaard (three catches for 43 yards) on the first play of the second quarter -- giving Luverne a first-and-goal at Harrisburg's four-yard line.
A four-yard touchdown plunge up the middle by Aubert followed, and sophomore Toby Sengvongxay booted the extra point through the uprights to lift the Cardinals to a 7-0 lead at the 11:30 mark.
Harrisburg countered with a 13-play scoring drive that covered 69 yards. Senior quarterback Andrew McCuen, who completed a 14-yard pass to Trevor Deschepper and also scrambled 16 yards on a keeper during the series, tossed a two-yard touchdown strike to Devyn Schriever in the back of the end zone.
Kyle Ackermann's PAT kick came next, and with 3:33 remaining in the first half, the score was tied at seven apiece.
"McCuen is a very good quarterback and will likely be playing college football somewhere next year," Oye said. "He made us look silly at times with some of his scrambling runs, but we did do a pretty decent job defensively of getting into their backfield and defending their passing game."
Luverne put together a nine-play, 66-yard touchdown drive on the ensuing possession and took a 13-7 lead with 25 seconds left. Solma (three receptions for 44 yards) hauled in a nine-yard pass from Heronimus and also snared a 24-yard aerial from Wenninger to get the Cardinals on the move.
Heronimus found Overgaard over the middle for a 12-yard connection and later got crossed the goal line on a two-yard quarterback sneak. The extra-point attempt was no good, leaving Luverne with a 13-7 halftime lead.
"We have so much flexibility within our roster, and it's nice to have both Brett and Skyler make plays at quarterback for us," Oye said. "We can interchange guys and give teams different looks -- on both sides of the ball -- to be successful in a variety of ways."
Cardinals take command midway through second half
Most of the third quarter was controlled by the defensive units and special teams, but Luverne's offense assembled a scoring drive in the last three minutes to change the scoreboard.
Heronimus started a five-play, 63-yard march with back-to-back eight-yard plays -- an eight-yard pass to Overgaard and an eight-yard run -- before Wenninger showed good speed on a nine-yard carry to the left side.
Heronimus then gained six yards on a keeper before launching a 32-yard touchdown pass to Arends down the middle of the field. Heronimus and Arends also hooked up for the two-point conversion, increasing the Cardinals' lead to 21-7 with 44 seconds left in the third quarter.
A nine-yard touchdown pass from McCuen to Deschepper (Ackermann PAT kick) -- which capped a quick four-play, 30-yard drive that was set up by a 50-yard kick return by Drew Andela -- trimmed the gap to 21-14 with 10:33 to go in the fourth quarter.
However, a huge 34-yard pass play from Wenninger to junior Josh Slieter on third-and-16 on the ensuing Cardinals' possessing helped pave the way for an answering touchdown.
Wenninger followed with a 16-yard run before Aubert got loose for a 24-yard burst-- taking the ball inside the five-yard line. Aubert then finished the six-play, 71-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown plunge (Sengvongxay PAT good) to put Luverne up 28-14 with 7:55 on the clock.
The margin became 36-14 a bit later, as junior Gunnar Olson (six carries for 84 yards) ripped off a nifty 51-yard touchdown along the left sideline. Wenninger scored the two-point conversion after a mishandled snap, finishing Luverne's scoring with 4:28 remaining.
Harrisburg completed the game's scoring with 2:36 to go, as McCuen threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Deschepper. The same two connected for the two-point conversion, making the final score 36-22.
Luverne (1-0) opens Southwest Conference play next Friday, taking on Redwood Valley in Redwood Falls.
Harrisburg 0 7 0 15 -- 22
Luverne 0 13 8 15 -- 36