GARNER - Estherville Lincoln Central saw a heavy dose of Braden Meintz in a 30-8 loss to Garner-Hayfield/Ventura on Friday.
The Cardinal running back ran for 130-plus yards and two touchdowns and kicked a field goal in the first half. He then added one touchdown in the second half, but the ELC defense was able to limit his yardage.
"We weren't sure if they guys were ready to play and Garner controlled the game in the first half," said ELC coach Andy Umthun. "The guys showed some character coming out and playing hard in the second half."
GH/V tried some trickery to start the game with an attempted onside kick. The ball only went 5 yards, so ELC started with good field position. But the Midgets were unable to take advantage. A punt by Anthony Segura pinned the hosts inside their 10-yard line.
However, the Cardinals then began a 95-yard, clock-eating drive with Meintz scoring on a 6-yard run.
ELC went backwards on its next drive with Segura punting from the Midgets' goal line.
The Cardinals took advantage of the short field with Meintz scoring on a 9-yard line with 8:22 left in the first half.
ELC punted again on the next drive. This time quarterback Spencer Shaw connected with Shawn Murphy on a 20-yard strike with 1:53 left in the first half. After Meintz added the two-point conversion run, the hosts led 20-0.
The Cardinals intercepted Heinrichs right before half. The ELC defense came up with a big play. With the hosts facing third-and-goal from the 5-yard line, a sack by Sergio Osornio pushed the hosts back to the 13-yard line for fourth down. Although Meintz had missed two extra point kicks earlier in the game, this time he hit a 30-yard field goal.
In the second half, GHV drove down field with Meintz scoring on a 1-yard run with 7:13 in the third.
ELC's defense then came up with a couple turnovers-one by Segura-to stop a couple of GHV drives later in the game.
"We didn't change our game plan in the second half-we just executed are game plan better," said Umthun.
The Midgets' offense went to work for one scoring drive in the final frame.
The drive was helped by a 40-plus yard run by Carsten Bosch and culminated with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Justin Heinrichs to Rod Fuller. The Midgets were able to add the two-point conversion.
"I thought our offensive line did a much better job in the second half and gave Justin some time," said Umthun. "We did a better job of taking what the defense gave us."
ELC (2-6 overall, 1-4 district) ends the season at home against ninth-ranked Spirit Lake next Friday.