Estherville Lincoln Central came up with plenty of big plays to give fans something to cheer about on homecoming night Friday.
But it was Clarion-Goldfield's ability to put together clock-eating scoring drives that proved to be the difference in the Cowboys 40-26 victory.
Midgets' senior running back Andres Blanco had an outstanding night as he scored on a 1-yard run, an 89-yard kickoff return and a 71-yard pass play. However, he was limited to just 7 yards rushing on eight carries.
Estherville Lincoln Central Matt Burrell (14) pulls in a pass during first quarter play against Clarion-Goldfield during the Midgets homecoming on Friday.
EDN photo by David Swartz
Meanwhile ELC's defense couldn't stop the visitors often enough. Unofficially, the Cowboys rushed 78 times for 432 yards. They were 3-5 passing for 70 yards.
The Midgets had 45 yards on the ground. Hansen was 8-of-13 passing for 182 yards.
Clarion-Goldfield opened the game with a 72-yard, 5-minute drive that ended on a 2-yard run by Jake Haberman. The Cowboys accomplished the drive without attempting a single pass as they ran up the middle and on sweeps to the side.
ELC drove just across midfield on its first drive. Blanco's punt pinned the Cowboys in their 10-yard line.
Clarion-Goldfield quarterback Adam Steven's first pass settled into the hands of ELC linebacker Tucker Milburn, who returned the ball to the Cowboy 15.
A pass from Evan Hansen to Matt Burrell gave ELC a first down at the 5-yard line. Three plays later, Blanco bulled his way in from a yard out. However a poor snap on the extra point didn't give Blanco a chance to kick the ball as ELC trailed 7-6.
Clarion-Goldfield came back and put another drive together that culminated in a Haberman scoring on a 6-yard run. That came with 5:25 left in the first half.
On the ensuing kickoff, Blanco made a few cuts and went down the left sideline for an 89-yard return. ELC's two-point conversion failed, but ELC trailed 21-12.
That appeared it could be the score at halftime.
But the Cowboys had a second on the clock at the ELC 34-yard line.
Stevens threw the ball up for 6-6 tight end Stephen McAtee. The Midgets appeared to have the coverage on the play, but McAtee went up and grabbed the ball and fought threw two ELC defenders to get the final yard into the end zone. That gave the visitors a 28-12 lead at the break.
ELC was unable to do anything on its first drive of the second half, but the Cowboys came up with another drive. They came up with another big play when Haberman broke free on a 35-yard romp.
ELC again responded with a big play. This time, Hansen connected with Blanco who got a couple blocks on an outside screen as he raced 71 yards for the score.
This time ELC earned the two-point conversion as Hansen connected with Milburn to cut the deficit to 34-20.
The Cowboys put together another drive with Trenton Sann scoring on an 8-yard run. Their two-point conversion failed.
ELC put one final drive together. A 54-yard pass from Hansen to Corey Reeves took the Midgets to the Cowboy 21-yard line. That eventually set up a 1-yard run by Hansen with 3:15 left in the game.
Clarion-Goldfield was able to run out the clock after the onside kick.
Unofficially, Haberman had 246 yards on 33 carries for the Cowboys while Sann had 106 on 22 carries and Mad Odland had 62 yards on 18 carries.
Billy Snyder led ELC with 23 yards on six carries. Hansen had 15 yards on five carries.
ELC (1-3 overall, 1-1 in the district) is on the road the next two weeks. The Midgets travel to Lake City to take on South Central Calhoun next Friday and then are at Central Lyon/George-Little Rock.