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ELC 21, Forest City 20 A game to remember

Paulson recovers blocked punt to give Midgets a one-point victory

August 26, 2018
David Swartz - Managing Editor ( , Estherville News

FOREST CITY - Estherville Lincoln Central's season opening 21-20 win over Forest City had nearly everything a Midget fan could want-big offensive plays, big defensive plays and a come-from-behind victory.

Trailing 20-15 with about 5 1/2 minutes remaining in the game, ELC's defense came up with the game-winning play. After pinning Forest City deep in its own territory, the Midgets rushed the punt. Justin Wolfe got his hands on the ball and knocked it into the end zone where Garrett Paulson landed on it for the go-ahead score.

While the two-point conversion failed, ELC's defense forced the Indians to punt on the ensuing drive. Forest City did get the ball back one more time, but the Indians were unable to advance the ball and turned it over on downs.

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"We always teach resiliency," said ELC coach Ryan Rezac, who earned his first varsity coaching victory with the win. "I couldn't be more proud of the grit and toughness these guys showed tonight.

The Midgets had committed four turnovers in the first half and were down 14-2 at the break.

"There were mistakes made in the first half," said Rezac. "We just needed to play assignment football."

ELC started the game well. The Midgets forced the Indians to punt on the hosts' first possession and promptly drove deep into Forest City territory. However, the drive stalled inside the 20-yard line.

The Indians went to the air on the next drive and capped it with a 22-yard pass from Luke Johnson to Seth Brock with 18 seconds left in the first quarter. While the extra point failed, Forest City got the ball right back, as the Midgets fumbled on their next play from scrimmage.

The Indians took advantage and Johnson needed just one play to connect with Jordan Spooner on a slant route from 17-yards out. Johnson ran in the two-point conversion and the hosts led 14-0 with 1 second left in the opening frame.

In the second quarter ELC's offense continued to struggle, committing two more fumbles and an interception.

However, the Midgets' defense responded to the challenge. With the Indians back deep in their territory, Johnson slipped in the end zone, giving ELC a safety with 3:36 left in the half.

ELC's offense regrouped at halftime and the Midgets needed just three plays to strike pay dirt.

Alec Heifner tossed his first touchdown pass of the season to Octavious Piercy-Maze from 40-yards out, with Piercy-Maze breaking a tackle on the way to the end zone. Aldo Alvarado kicked the extra point and the deficit was reduced to 14-9 with barely a minute gone in the second half at 10:54.

ELC's defense made the stop on the ensuing Forest City drive. Shortly after the Indians' punt, Heifner connected with Bennett Loock on a 66-yard strike. While the extra point failed, the Midgets had the momentum and their first lead at 15-14 with 9:36 left in the third quarter.

ELC's lead was short-lived, as Forest City's Johnson returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards for the touchdown. While the two-point conversion attempt failed, the Indians had the lead back at 20-15.

The two teams battled the remainder of the third and most of the fourth before ELC came up with the key blocked punt.

ELC finished with 171 rushing yards led by Briar Rowley, who had 15 yards on 27 carries. Heifner finished 10-of-17 passing with two touchdowns and one interception. Loock had two catches for 75 yards, Piercy-Maze had four catches for 36 yards, Garrett Paulson had two catches for 13 yards, Blake Miller had one catch for 11 yards and Matt Christensen had one catch for 8 yards.

Defensively, ELC limited Forest City to 77 yards rushing and 85 yards through the air. Unofficially, the Indians only had about 60 yards on offense in the second half.

ELC's defense tackled Forest City players for a loss 20 times with 11 sacks against quarterback Luke Johnson. Brian Egeland led the way with six tackles for a loss, including three sacks. Blake Miller also had three sacks while Morgan Dostal, Briar Rowley, Parker Rowley, Jesse Wolfe and Justin Wolfe each had one.

Keegan Brown and Egeland each led ELC with eight solo tackles. Also, Egeland recovered a fumble and Parker Rowley had an interception.

ELC (1-0 overall) hosts Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn in the home opener this Friday. The Hawks won 66-0 over Okoboji on Friday.



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