Alex Engelhardt leaps above Houston’s Hunter Laschenski for 28-yard
Alex Engelhardt leaps above Houston’s Hunter Laschenski for 28-yard
Undefeated, state-ranked Spring Grove made just enough great plays to survive several of its most disastrous plays of the season last week. At Houston, the eighth-ranked Lions came from behind twice before scoring the winning touchdown with 3:49 left to play. Final score: Spring Grove 28, Houston 24.

Spring Grove fumbled away what would have been a game-clinching touchdown at the Houston 2-yard line with 1:41 left and then had to halt a last-ditch, last-minute 54-yard Hurricane drive.

Houston (0-3, 0-2 SEC), played its second straight game without a lost possession after losing a 4-turnover opening contest to Lanesboro. Spring Grove (3-0, 2-0 SEC) arrived with no turnovers through its first two games, but lost possession 4 times (3 fumbles, 1 interception). An errant punt snap, for practical purposes, served as a fifth lost possession.

Following the interception, Houston drove 56 yards in 6 plays to tie the score at 6-6 late in the second quarter.

After SG fumbled away the ensuing kickoff runback at the Lion 32, quarterback Christian Sires found Dylan Lee behind the SG secondary for a 33-yard touchdown pass. The Lions went into halftime down 12-6. Houston had scored twice in 43 seconds.

Spring Grove tied it up at 12-all with a 4-play, 58-yard drive on its second possession of the second half. Caleb Happel carried all four times including a 23-yard burst, the Lions' longest official run of the night. His earlier 73-yard TD run had been nullified by the only holding penalty of the game.

When Houston got the ball back, Sires broke free for the 'Canes' longest play of the game. But 42 yards downfield, the 6-foot, 180-pound senior was tripped from behind by a diving 5-5, 140-pound freshman Damon Cody at the SG 20. That desperation dive saved a touchdown as four plays later Alex Engelhardt broke up a fourth-down pass.

On the very next play, Keenan Siminski aired Dustin Vickerman an 83-yard strike to break the tie in the Lions' favor. It was the longest SG pass play in five seasons (since an 85-yard bomb in 2008). Happel ran in the extra-points and SG led 20-12 with 2:01 left in the third quarter.

The game would ultimately be decided by extra points with both teams scoring four TDs. Houston missed on all four extra-point tries - two kicks and 2 runs. SG missed on one kick and one run before Happel ran in what would be the winning points following the Lions' last 2 TDs.

After SG lost a fumble at midfield, Houston quickly used 2 runs and 2 passes to go 47 yards and get within two points at 20-18.

The Lions' bad punt snap went into the SG end zone where punter Matt Schleich made a great recovery and got off an amazing punt on the run. Officially, it was only a 3-yard punt as the Hurricanes took over on the Lion 23. Three option runs later, Houston was ahead 24-20 with 7:20 left to play.

The Lions then drove 61 yards in 9 plays with Happel carrying the final 5 yards. His conversion run put SG ahead 28-24.

Lion fans would not breathe easy until SG held on downs at the Houston 38 with just under 3 minutes on the clock. Five plays later, the Lions were about to put the game away with a first down at the Houston 2 when a fumbled snap gave the 'Canes one more chance.

Three passes and one run later, Houston had a first down at the SG 32 with 1:14 remaining. Three Lions forced a bad pitchout, but Houston recovered. Harrison Speltz tackled Sires while scrambling in between two passes broken up by Siminski (near the goal line) and by Schleich on fourth down with 16 seconds to play.

Houston had some early success while concentrating on Happel, but the 5-10, 200-pound senior running back still pounded into the 'Cane defense 39 times for 196 yards, no fumbles and 3 TDs with scoring on runs of 1, 10 and 15 yards.

Even so, SG could not have won without an aerial attack. Siminski completed 4 of 8 for 150 yards. After SG went three and out on the first three possessions, he went to the air for the first time with Engelhardt in jersey number 28 going up for a 28-yard gain as if it was a basketball rebound at the Houston 35.

That initial first down ignited the Lion offense. Seven plays later, Happel scored from 1 yard out, and SG led 6-0 early in the second quarter.

Siminski's other 3 completions went to Vickerman who continued to be a big-play threat. His 83-yard TD grab was caught 33 yards downfield in the air over a defender. Vickerman raced the final 50 yards on foot.

His most difficult catch was a closely-defended over-the-shoulder 28-yard beauty just before getting a foot in bounds along the sideline. Vickerman's 122 receiving yards is the most in 47 games (Ryan Mehus 5-152 vs. Lanesboro, 2008). He may the only Lion to have a TD reception in each of his first 3 varsity starts.

Unlike their first two games, the Hurricanes did not have to rely so heavily on Sires to run as well as pass. In those contests, Sires not only threw 63 passes, but also had 43 of his team's 67 total runs.

Playing for the first time this season, 209-pound Peter Jergenson carried 15 times for 51 yards including a 15-yard TD run. And 200-pound Christian Conley, who had carried only 2 previous times, ran 6 times against SG for 16 yards including a 9-yard TD run.

With that support, Sires threw a season-low 21 passes (11 for 21, 177 yards) and rushed a season-low 14 times for 67 yards including a 5-yard TD. Most of Houston's rushing yardage came on quarterback option plays involving Sires and either Jergenson or Conley.

SG outgained Houston 230 to 137 on the ground and 380 to 314 overall. Sires and Houston had a 177 to 150 edge through the air. Lee caught 6 passes for 88 yards and a TD.

SG converted only 2 of 10 third downs, Houston 2 of 12. On fourth downs, SG was 0 for 1 and Houston 0 for 3.

Five Lions had double-digit tackles. Schleich had 13 (1.5 for loss) and Happel 11 including a sack. With 10 stops each were Speltz (3 for loss), Nick Holty (2 for loss) and Brady Schuttemeier (1 for loss).

Siminski had 9 tackles (7 solo) including a stop after the interception which may have been a TD-stopper, a tackle on 248-pound Matt Johnson.

The Lion B-team (2-0) blanked Houston 24-0. The SG/Mabel-Canton/North Winn junior high boys (3-0) also defeated the Hurricanes last week along with a later 34-20 victory at Grand Meadow.

Up next

The Lions head to Lyle on Friday, Sept. 20 to face Lyle/Pacelli with the kickoff at 7 p.m.

Lion Individuals

RUSHING 53-230: Caleb Happel 39-196, 3TD, 2PAT; Matt Schleich 6-24; Keenan Siminski 5-8; Harrison Speltz 1-4; team knees 2-(-2).

PASSING: Keenan Siminski 4-8-1, 150 yds., TD . RECEIVING 4-150: Dustin Vickerman 3-122, TD; Alex Engelhardt 1-28.


PASS BREAKUPS (3): Damon Cody 1, Keenan Siminski 1. Mat Schleich 1


SACKS: Caleb Happel 1.0

TACKLES for LOSS includes sacks: Harrison Speltz 3.0, Nick Holty 2.0, Matt Schleich 1.5, Brady Schuttemeier 1.0, Caleb Happel 1.0, Alex Engelhardt 0.5

TACKLES: Total (solo + assists). Matt Schleich 13 (5+8), Caleb Happel 11 (4+7), Brady Schuttemeier 10 (4+6), Harrison Speltz 10 (4+6), Nick Holty 10 (3+7), Keenan Siminski 9 (7+2), Dustin Vickerman 5 (2+3), Alex Engelhardt 4 (0+4), Damon Cody 3 (1+2), Mikal Guberud 2 (0+2), Jayme Lenning 1 (1+0), Larry Schulte 1 (0+1)), Jordan Jaster 1 (0+1)

KICK-OFF RETURNS 5-73: Matt Schleieh 3-55, Dustin Vickerman 1-14, Jayme Lenning 1-4

PUNT RETURNS: Dustin Vickerman 4-51

SCORING: Happel 22, Vickerman 6

PUNTING: Matt Schleich 6-156 (26.0 avg.)

Houston individuals

RUSHING (38-137): Christian Sires 14-67, TD; Peter Jergenson 15-51, TD; Christian Conley 6-16, TD; Dylan Lee 1-2; Brett Hoskins 1-2; Team knee 1-(-1)

PASSING: Christian Sires 11-21-0, 177 yds., TD

RECEIVING (11-177): Dylan Lee 6-88, TD; Mason Drake 2-50; Chase Krenzke 2-37; Brett Hoskins 1-2

INTERCEPTIONS: Matt Johnson 1-5 yds.

KICK-OFF RETURNS: Dylan Lee 6-82

PUNT RETURNS: Dylan Lee 2-15

PUNTING: Mason Drake 6-188 (31.3 avg.)



Team; total (rush + pass)

SG 380 (230+150), Hou 314 (137+177)

Passes - comp-att - int: SG 4-8-1, Hou11-21-0

Sacks Allowed: SG 0, Hou 1

Total Plays (rush+pass): SG 61 (53+8), Hou 59 (38+21)

Avg. Yards per play: SG 6.2, Hou 5.3

Fumbles - Lost: SG 4-3, Hou 1-0

Turnovers: SG 4, Hou 0

Penalties: SG 6-35, Hou 5-40

3rd Downs: SG 2 for 10, Hou 2 for 12

4th Downs: SG 0 for 1, Hou 0 for 3

Red Zone: SG 3 for 4, Hou 3 for 4

First Downs: SG 16, Hou 13

Plays of 20+ yards: SG 4, Hou 4

SEC standings

Grand Meadow 2-0 SEC (3-0 season)

Spring Grove 2-0 (3-0)

Lanesboro 1-1 (2-1)

LeRoy-Ostrander 1-1 (2-1)

Mabel-Canton 1-1 (1-2)

Lyle/Pacelli 1-1 (1-2)

Houston 0-2 (0-3)

Glenville-Emmons 0-2 (0-3))


Lanesboro 40, Mabel-Canton 14

Spring Grove 28, Houston 24

Grand Meadow 63, Glenville-Emmons 12

LeRoy-Ostrander 55, Lyle/Pacelli 40


Spring Grove at Lyle/Pacelli (in Lyle)

Lanesboro at Glenville-Emmons

Grand Meadow at Mabel-Canton

LeRoy-Ostrander at Houston

STATE 9-MAN POLL (Sept. 18)

Rank (previous poll)

1. (1)Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley 2-0, 2. (2) Grand Meadow 2-0

3. (4) Kittson County Central 2-0

4. (3) Goodrich/Grygla 2-0

5. (5)Mountain Lake Area 2-0

6. (T6) Wheaton/Herman-Norcross 2-0

7. (T6) Edgerton/Ellsworth 2-0

8. (9) Ada-Borup 2-0

9. (8)Spring Grove 2-0

10. (10) South Ridge 2-0