In spite of a couple early miscues, Estherville Lincoln Central gave the Midget fans plenty to cheer about in a scoring against Spirit Lake on Friday.
But when the dust had settled, the defending state champion Indians had 47-26 victory.
ELC quarterback Justin Heinrichs put on a good offensive display, running the ball 32 times for 223 yards and completing 16-of-27 passes for 140 yards, unofficially.
ELC’s Zach Edwards (30), Avera Hansen (3) and Carsten Bosch (44) forced Spirit Lake’s Josh Hofstra (27) to fumble on this play, but the Indians recovered the ball as the Midgets were unable to take advantage.
Photo by David Swartz
But even without starting quarterback Alec Henrickson, the Indians were too much. Spirit Lake didn't have any passing yards, but finished with 467 yards on the ground on 45 carries.
ELC got off to a rough start.
After the Indians pinned ELC at the 2-yard line with the opening kickoff, the Midgets had 9-yard run, but a fumble came at the end of it.
Two plays later, quarterback Billy Brown ran the ball in from 6-yards out.
ELC's next drive went well behind the running of Heinrichs, but after getting first and goal at the 5-yard line, the Spirit Lake defense held and pushed Heinrichs out of bounds on fourth and 5.
The Indians took over at their 17 and on the first play from scrimmage, Caleb Jennings scampered around the left end and down the sideline 83 yards for a 6-0 lead.
The two teams traded a couple possessions, but the Indians put together another drive with Logan Backhaus scoring from 4-yards out with 7:17 left in the first half.
ELC started at midfield on the ensuing drive, helped by a facemask penalty on the kickoff.
Justin Heinrichs busted free for a 30-yard run. Two plays later, receiver Joe Heinrichs was tripped in the endzone and the Midgets moved up 10 yards on the pass interference call. After a 1-yard loss, Justin Heinrichs again found some room to run and scored from 11 yards out to put ELC on the board. The two-point conversion failed as ELC trailed 19-6.
Joe Heinrichs then intercepted a Spirit Lake pass at the Indians 34-yard line. ELC was unable to take advantage as Justin Heinrichs was intercepted by Justin Jones three plays later.
Spirit Lake again put a quick drive together as Jennings had a big run into ELC territory and the Brown scored on a 24-yard run with 3:22 left in the first half.
Trailing 26-6, ELC wasn't done in the first.
ELC put together a eight-play drive that included a pass to Joe Heinrichs and a screen pass to Billy Snyder. The drive was completed with a 19-yard pas to Rodrick Fuller with 1:14 on the clock. Justin Heinrichs connected with Joe Heinrichs on the two-point conversion as ELC trailed 26-14 at the break.
Both teams scored relatively quickly to start the second half. Spirit Lake got an 85-yard kickoff return from Austin Folsom.
On the ensuing drive, ELC again did a good job of moving the ball with Heinrichs scoring on a nifty 28-yard run, keeping the game within two scores, 33-20.
On the Indians next drive, Josh Hofstra lost the ball at the Midget 1-yard line trying to stretch for the touchdown with ELC recovering the fumble. ELC got some breathing room, but for the second time on the night, Spirit Lake scored on the first play of the drive. This time Trevor Jensen romped 57 yards as the third quarter came to a close. The PAT gave the visitors a 40-20 lead.
ELC came up with one more scoring drive that included a pass interference call against Spirit Lake and a 12-yard pass from Heinrichs to Avery Hansen. The drive concluded with a 2-yard run by Carsten Bosch that made it 40-26 with 8:09 left in the game.
On the Indians next drive, a 65-yard touchdown run by Kenten Murray was called back on a holding penalty. But Spirit Lake still completed the drive on a 2-yard quarterback keeper by Backhaus.
Doing most of the damage for Spirit lake was Jennings, who had 121 yards on three carries. Hofstra had 80 yards on 12 carries and Murray and 86 yards on 10 carries.
Spirit Lake (8-1 overall, 6-0 in district play) continues its season with a first-round playoff game at home against MOC-Floyd Valley on Wednesday.
ELC finishes its first season at 2-7 overall and 1-5 in district play under first-year coach Andy Umthun.
Nine seniors played in their final game-Joseph Heinrichs, Billy Snyder, Noah Helmers, Alec Wycoff, Anthony Segura, Levi Jensen, Chase Erickson, Maysen Lupkes and Corey Reeves.
"Those nine seniors gave me a great year, but I was hoping to do more for them," said Umthun.
With a number of key juniors returning next year, Umthun looks to the future.
"We have a nice core group of juniors to build on what we did this year," he said.