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Section 3 9Man finals: E/E runs over H-BC

LES KNUTSON Daily Globe MARSHALL -- Grinding out 369 yards on the ground by rushing the ball 52 times Thursday evening, Edgerton/Ellsworth won its seventh Section 3 9-Man championship by defeating rival Hills-Beaver Creek, 30-12, in a much antici...

LES KNUTSON

Daily Globe

MARSHALL - Grinding out 369 yards on the ground by rushing the ball 52 times Thursday evening, Edgerton/Ellsworth won its seventh Section 3 9-Man championship by defeating rival Hills-Beaver Creek, 30-12, in a much anticipated high school football game between two perennial southwestern Minnesota powers.

  Leading the offensive charge for the victorious Flying Dutchmen was 210-pound senior fullback Blake Van Dyke, who carried the ball 19 times and scored four touchdowns while racking up a total of 216 yards.

  A stellar all-around team defense by E/E limited the normally-diversified attack of the Patriots, who scored just twice in the game -- once late in the second quarter and again midway through the fourth after the Dutchmen had built a 24-6 lead.

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  Highlight defensive plays came from senior defensive end Jake Huisken (early fumble recovery), junior defensive end Trey Gilbertson (consistent pressure on H-BC quarterback Zach Scholten, including batting down a pair of pass attempts) and senior linebacker Dayne Niemeyer (pass interception after the Patriots had crossed midfield late in the first quarter, along with several key open-field tackles later in the game). Niemeyer also blocked both of H-BC’s extra-point kick attempts.

  Huisken, who also had a sack, finished with a team-leading 11 tackles, while Van Dyke - playing middle linebacker - finished with 10 tackles. Gilbertson had eight tackles and applied the pressure which set up Niemeyer’s interception) and Niemeyer came up with seven tackles, including a touchdown-saving stop on hard-running H-BC tailback Isaiah Vis on a screen pass early in the fourth quarter.

  “Our kids really played good defense,” declared E/E head coach Andrew  Fleischman. “We had to be good on ‘D’ because Hills is such a good offensive team. I thought that our four defensive tackles – Rylie Carlson, Joe Van Essen, Zach Johnson and Thad  Gunnink – who we rotated in and out, really did a nice job of playing the line-of-scrimmage and allowing our ends and linebackers to make tackles.”

  The Dutchmen will carry a 10-1 record into next week’s opening-round state tournament game at Rochester Community and Technical College, playing the champion from Section 1. Defending state champion Grand Meadow and highly-ranked Spring Grove play tonight (7 p.m.) on that same field where E/E will play the winner at 7 p.m. on Nov. 11.

  Two years ago, the Dutchmen tangled with Grand Meadow in the state title game at TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis on a frigid late-November morning. Grand Meadow won that game by a final score of 48-0. The Superlarks are undefeated again this season and gave Spring Grove its only loss.

  “Whoever we play next week is very good,” summed up Fleishman. “I’m just glad that we earned that chance by playing so well against H-BC tonight.”

  On a beautiful evening for football at Mattke Field on the campus of Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU) with the temperature in the mid-50s, each team’s defenses set the tempo early, as both E/E and H-BC were forced to punt after their opening offensive series.

  After going out three-and-out on their first possession, the Dutchmen caught a break when H-BC’s punt attempt was bobbled and an alert Huisken recovered the ball at the Patriot 45-yard line.

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  Nine plays later, Van Dyke scored his first touchdown on a one-yard plunge to the left with 5:34 remaining in the first quarter.

  “We gave them a short field and you can’t do that against those guys,” said H-BC head coach  Rex Metzger. “That happened to us again right away in the second half and they scored again after getting the ball on a short field.”

  The Patriots moved the chains for a couple of first downs before Niemeyer came up with big pick, giving E/E the ball at its own 35-yard line as the first quarter neared completion.

  Two plays later, on the first play of the second quarter, Van Dyke ripped off a 58-yard gain before being tackled by Vis at the H-BC seven-yard line. Two plays later, Jaden Bloemedaal (13 carries for 51 yards) scored on a three-yard jaunt to the left corner, giving the Dutchmen a 12-0 lead with 11:03 left in the first half.

  The Patriots, who stuffed the Dutchmen on all five of its two-point conversion attempts, worked to get back in the contest, playing well the rest of the second quarter.

  Hard runs by Vis (118 yards on 23 carries) and Trenton Bass (51 yards on 13 carries) helped move the chains for several first downs and Scholten (six rushes for 26 yards) capped a seven-play, 57-yard Patriot drive with a 15-yard touchdown run with 59 seconds left in the half.

  “We had a nice drive there and thought we had some momentum going into halftime,” Metzger said. “But, the third quarter did not start out the way we wanted it to.”

  E/E quickly gained the upperhand in the third quarter when Jeffrey Swenson recovered a fumble on H-BC’s opening kick return. It took just three plays for Van Dyke to burst 23 yards up the middle for his second touchdown and an 18-6 Dutchmen lead.

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  “Blake can run the ball hard,” praised Fleischman. “He really grinds it out when we feed him the ball.”

  Another big gain (21 yards) by Van Dyke and a 19-yard burst by quarterback Landon Buckridge (eight carries for 40 yards), along with an 18-yard run by Bloemendaal set up Van Dyke for a six-yard TD surge at the 11:08 mark of the fourth quarter, increasing E/E’s lead to 24-6.

  A 40-yard run by Vis and an 18-yard screen pass from Scholten to Vis highlighted H-BC’s next drive and the Patriots scored with 5:46 to play when Bass took a pitch to the right and crossed the goal line from two yards out. A six-yard completion from Scholten to Josh Keuter (three catches for 18 yards) gave the Patriots a third-and-three at the nine before  Vis spun his way to the three, setting up Bass for the score.

  The Dutchmen kept the ball on the ground and effectively ran out the clock, while adding an insurance touchdown when Van Dyke entered the end zone on an 18-yard run up the middle with 2:03 left in the game.

  Mason Sluis contributed 62 rushing yards on 12 carries, for the Dutchmen who were 0-of-5 passing.

  Logan Leuthold was H-BC’s leading tackler with 12, while Vis (who caught three passes for 33 yards) and Bass (four catches for 48 yards) had 10 and nine tackles, respectively. Jax Wysong had a sack for the Patriots, who finished a fine season with an 8-3 record.

  “We had 13 first downs and moved the ball pretty well at times,” summed up Metzger. “We just needed to be able to finish some of those drives, which is a challenge against a team as good as the one who we played tonight.”

 H-BC      0  6  0  6    -  12E/E        6   6  6  12  - 30

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