ELK MOUND — Playing on their home field for a first round playoff game showed much better results than the last eight years when the Elk Mound football team qualified for playoffs. For the first time since 2004, the Mounders won a first round game, and rather convincingly at that, as they took a 42-6 win over the Grantsburg Pirates in the Division 5 game Oct. 19.
A nice little revenge factor came into place after the Mounders were trounced by Grantsburg two years ago on a cold, wet night in which the game was played on two fields when the power went out in Grantsburg.
“It just feels nice to finally win a playoff game,” a rather wet coach Dan Pedersen said after the proverbial dousing of the water bucket by his players.
“We haven’t been able to get over the hump in the past few years with the tough competition at our level so this is a real accomplishment for our team.”
The Mounders dominated on both sides of the line as they forced the Pirates to punt on their first possession when Jordan Klemp sacked their quarterback. The Mounders proceeded to move the ball downfield on 12 plays picking up three first downs as Klemp ran seven times and quarterback Nick Heit completed three passes, the third being a TD to a wide open Adam Gottschalk from five yards out with 4:05 left in the first quarter. Ryan Mueller continues to be a big part of the offense as he kicked the first of six extra points in the game for a 7-0 lead.
Grantsburg went on their own march however, starting on their 34 and keeping the ball on the ground using their spread offense, managing to get to the Mounders’ one yard line. Moving into the second quarter, the Mounders defense needed to stand tall (or stay low) as it turned out when they stuffed the ball carrier on third and fourth down which gave them the ball back at the one. After an incomplete pass, Klemp blasted through a hole for 30 yards to get them out of the shadow of their own endzone, and although they eventually had to give the ball up, they didn’t give the Pirates very good field position.
“That goal line stand was critical for us,” Pedersen said. “If Grantsburg scores on that, the game could have been up for grabs.”
The Mounders continued to move the ball on the ground as Klemp scored from 20 yards out with 4:23 left in the half for a 14-0 lead but on their next possession, the Pirates’ defense held and they blocked the Elk Mound punt, recovering at the Mounders 25 yard line. On fourth down, Elk Mound’s Nate Mack picked off a Pirate pass and his team took over at the Grantsburg 44 yard line with just 25 seconds on the clock. An eight yard run by Klemp along with a fourth down pass completion to him gave the Mounders a final shot for some points which they took advantage of as Heit connected with Dakota Tarnow for a 21 yard TD in the corner of the endzone with all zeroes on the scoreboard, giving the Mounders a 21-0 halftime lead.
The Pirates tried to get back in the game when they scored on a five yard run with 8:15 to go in the third quarter, but Mack knocked down the two point conversion pass attempt and that’s all the Mounder defense would give up the rest of the game.
Jonathan Adank recovered a fumble for the Mounders which led to another six points when they moved the ball from their own 45 to the endzone as Heit hit Mack on a fourth down pass for six points from 24 yards out with 1:25 left in the quarter. Forcing another Pirate punt, Klemp found a huge hole on a second down play and raced to pay dirt from 53 yards away, again with all zeroes on the clock.
Heading into the fourth quarter with a 35-6 lead, plenty of players saw action and the Mounders finished off the scoring with Will Miller crossing the goal line on a five yard run with 8:30 left in the game. The run was set up by a pass from Heit to Travis Nelson which was tipped by a Grantsburg defender. And on what turned out to be the Pirate’s last possession, Mack came up with his second interception of the game to seal the deal.
“I was pleased with the play of our offensive line tonight,” Pedersen said after the win. “They were really tough and that allowed Jordan to get his running game going and Heit had time to pass. Overall, we had some big plays on both sides of the ball that earned us the win.”
To say Klemp had his running game going was an understatement as he finished with 221 yards on 27 carries, and he had two long runs called back on penalties. Heit completed 11 of 29 passes for 193 yards as Tarnow, after missing the Boyceville game last week with an injury, collected four of those passes for 112 yards and Mack snared two for 37 yards.
Elk Mound will now travel to Prescott for the Level 2 game on Saturday, October 27th at 2 p.m.