Cougars stumble versus Lions
Wednesday, October 24, 2012 6:36 AM
State-ranked, undefeated Spring Grove dominated both sides of the football on Parents Night at Mabel-Canton last week, defeating the Cougars 51-13.
The win gave the Lions an outright conference championship, and the next morning the computer established the visitors (8-0, 7-0 SEC) as the top seed in this week's Section One nine-man football tournament. The Cougars received the number five seed.
Unfortunately for Mabel-Canton, other than two early Spring Grove turnovers, the Cougar defense could not stop the Lion starters. The Cougars had just as much trouble on offense with no first downs until their eighth possession just before halftime. M-C managed only 54 yards of offense in the first half, but with a long pass and a long touchdown run, finished with 235 total yards.
With season-highs of 519 rushing yards and 602 total yards, Spring Grove overcame six holding penalties for a season-high 65 penalty yards while matching season-highs with two fumbles and two turnovers. In between two early Lion turnovers, Spring Grove needed only two plays to go 73 yards for a 6-0 lead. They would then score on five straight possessions to lead 44-0 at halftime.
M-C scored on their final two possessions of the game. Six-foot M-C junior Collin O'Bieglo completed three of nine for 55 yards. His 48-yard toss to sophomore Donnie Lind set up a five-yard TD run by Noah Manning (13 carries, 47 yards) for the first Cougar score in the third quarter
Spring Grove's reserves consumed most of the running-clock fourth quarter with a 15-play, 67-yard march, which ended on downs at the Cougar 13. Three plays later, sophomore Keyser Wenthold closed the scoring, breaking free for a 74-yard sprint with 1:49 to play. He had a team-high 82 yards on two carries.
M-C junior running back Hunter Johnson came into the game averaging 192 yards per game with 20 touchdowns. He had gained 144 yards versus Spring Grove back in week one but found little running room in the rematch, gaining 54 yards on 17 carries. Johnson scored by kicking one of two extra points and finished the regular season with 1,398 rushing yards
For SG, Olerud averaged over 15 yards per carry while taking 22 handoffs for 335 yards, the most rushing yardage in the 11 years for which Spring Grove single-game records exist. The 170-pound senior running back/linebacker broke tackle after tackle on TD runs of seven, 43, 59 and 30 yards. His fifth TD, a one-yard run, came after he returned an interception 38 yards to the lip of the goal line. He also scored on three extra-point plays - two runs and a pass reception. Olerud finished the regular season with 1,127 rushing yards including 25 TDs plus two receiving TDs.
Olerud also supplied a key block on the 48-yard TD run by 195-pound junior fullback Caleb Happel, who rushed for 106 yards on only nine carries (11.8 yards per carry) and collected a 25-yard TD pass from Blaine Storlie.
Each quarterback was intercepted once but neither was sacked. Storlie, a 5-foot, 10-inch senior, completed six-of-10 passes for 83 yards and one TD. Freshman Alex Engelhardt caught two passes for 37 yards including the catch of the game - an 11-yard diving grab while being knocked out of bounds.
Neither team was able to take advantage of an early takeaway. Four plays after Happel forced a fumble recovered by Brandon Schuttemeier on the M-C 30, Wenthold picked off a pass at the five and returned it 15 yards. After Chris Nordsving fell on a Lion fumble on the opening kickoff at the SG 34, M-C went three and out. Spring Grove would not lose another fumble, but the Cougars continued to struggle against the Lion starting defense, converting only one third-down play.
M-C (3-5) will take the number-five seed on the road versus number four Houston (4-4) for the Oct. 23 quarterfinal playoff game. The Hurricanes defeated the Cougars 44-13 in week two. Spring Grove, ranked number three in the state nine-man poll and number six in the computer rankings, will take the top section seed into the playoffs at home versus number eight Lyle/Pacelli (1-7). The winners of that game will play in the semi-finals on Saturday, Oct. 27, with the higher seed hosting at 7 p.m. The other side of the bracket pairs number two Grand Meadow (7-1) against number seven Glenville-Emmons (2-6) and number three Lanesboro (5-3) versus number six LeRoy-Ostrander (2-6).
Southeast Conference 2012
FOOTBALL conf. season
W L W L
Spring Grove* 7 - 0 8 - 0
Grand Meadow 6 - 1 7 - 1
Lanesboro 4 - 3 5 - 3
Houston 4 - 3 4 - 4
Mabel-Canton 3 - 4 3 - 5
Glenville-Em 2 - 5 2 - 6
LeRoy-Ostrander 1 - 6 2 - 6
Lyle/Pacelli 1 - 6 1 - 7
* defending champion