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Unity Christian 14, ELC 0 Knights prevail in defensive tilt

Rowley runs for 97 yards

September 9, 2018
David Swartz - Managing Editor ( , Estherville News

ORANGE CITY - Prior to Friday's game between Estherville Lincoln Central and Unity Christian, ELC coach Ryan Rezac said the teams are similar in how they play. The winner would be determined by who executed better.

The Knights did that in their 14-0 victory over the Midgets.

While ELC's defense made some impressive goal line stands, turnovers and the inability to move the ball hindered the Midgets' chances.

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"We've got to get better in practice and do what we need to do to get better and clean up some things," said ELC coach Ryan Rezac, following the loss.

Both teams punted on their first possession.

On ELC's second possession, the first costly mistake occurred, as Unity Christian's Jackson Hofland intercepted Alec Heifner's pass deep in the Midgets' territory.

Unity Christian needed just one play to get inside the 10-yard line, but ELC stopped the Knights on fourth down at the 1-yard line.

Three plays later, ELC again had to punt with Unity Christian again driving inside the 10-yard line. But after a false start by the Knights, ELC's Christian Sheridan intercepted a pass in the end zone, as ELC's defense came through again.

But when Unity Christian got the ball back again, this time the Knights wouldn't be denied as quarterback Austin Van Donge scored on a 9-yard run to put the hosts ahead 6-0. That came with 10:28 left in the first half.

The defensive battled continued through the second quarter, with Unity Christian's defense coming up with a score. After a snap went over the head of Heifner deep in ELC territory, the Knights scored a safety when the ELC quarterback was called for intentional grounding from the end zone. That came with 1:33 left in the first half, as the hosts led 8-0.

In the first two weeks, ELC had been able to regroup at halftime and often change the course of the game.

This time, Unity Christian's defense responded to the challenge. The teams continued to battle up and down the field before Unity Christian came up with the final score of the night, a 6-yard reception from Donge to Jackson Hofland with 5:11 in the fourth quarter.

ELC looked to respond when Heifner connected with Bennett Loock on a 62-yard connection to get inside the Knights' 20-yard line. However on fourth-and-two from the 5-yard line, Unity Christian's defense stood tall, as ELC turned the ball over on downs.

The Knights were able to get a first down and run out the clock to end the game.

Unity Christian finished with 299 total yards compared to 203 by ELC.

Heifner finished 7-of-14 passing for 130 yards. Loock had two catches for 76 yards, Octavious Piercy-Maze had four catches for 34 yards and Blake Miller had one catch for 20 yards.

Briar Rowley continued as the workhorse in the backfield, but Unity Christian limited the senior to 97 yards on 28 carries. Christian Sheridan had three carries for 5 yards while Heifner and Piercy-Maze both had negative yardage.

Keegan Brown led ELC's defense with 10.5 tackles, including a tackle for a loss. Brian Egeland and Rowley each had eight tackles with Egeland regarding three tackles for a loss. Loock had an interception and Rowley recovered a Unity Christian fumble.

ELC (2-1 overall) is home this week against Sheldon. The Orabs also are 2-1 this season starting with wins over Sibley-Ocheyedan (39-6) and South O'Brien (27-14) before losing to LeMars (45-20) last Friday.



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