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EM can’t hold lead, drops contest against Boyceville

With both teams looking for their first conference win, the Elk Mound football team let an early 7-0 lead slip away and they lost a close 14-7 game against the visiting Boyceville Bulldogs Oct. 11. The Mounders now have a record of 1-7 overall and are 0-5 in conference play as they head to St. Croix Central this Friday night to finish out the season.

The Mounders used a stingy defense to force the Bulldogs to punt twice in the first quarter, and after the second punt, Elk Mound started with the ball on the Bulldog 44 yard line. Travis Nelson completed a five yard pass to Adam Gottschalk, and Noah Zurbuchen and Hunter Alexander gained yardage on the ground to get to the Bulldog 24. A facemask penalty on Boyceville put the ball closer to the eight, then Zurbuchen moved it to the four on another run. After a five yard penalty on Elk Mound, Nelson completed a short pass to Dane Lew and Zurbuchen crossed the goal line from three yards out and with a Ryan Mueller kick, the Mounders were up 7-0 with just nine seconds to go in the quarter.

After forcing another Bulldog punt to start the second quarter, the Mounders started deep in their own territory at the 13. Jon Storing ran for four yards but an 11 yard completion from Lew to Storing was nullified on a holding call on the Mounders. Three plays later, Elk Mound lost the ball on a fumble at their own 27 yard line. Boyceville took advantage of the turnover and moved the short distance on 10 running plays with Hunter Anderson scoring from two yards out. A two point pass gave Boyceville an 8-7 lead with 1:14 to go in the half.

After the kickoff, Elk Mound started at their own 35, and Nelson came out throwing, connecting for 20 yards to Zurbuchen. But two more incompletions followed and on the next play he was picked off by Brett Boda at the Bulldog 38 and the first half came to an end with Elk Mound still down by one.

Elk Mound went three and out to start the second stanza and after punting the ball away, Boyceville controlled the ball for almost eight minutes on 13 running plays but two penalties on the Bulldogs and a tackle for a loss by the Mounder defense forced Boyceville to punt the ball back to the Mounders. But the Bulldogs had every hole and passing lane covered it seemed and the Mounders gave it back on another three and out.

The quarter ended with Elk Mound still down by a single point and with the ball in the Bulldogs hands, the Mounders defense took some bark out of the Dogs when they stuffed a fourth and three run at their own 20.Three straight runs netted just seven yards for Elk Mound however and with 9:31 to go in the game, they had to punt again. They let a golden opportunity get away when Boyceville fumbled on the punt reception and recovered it themselves, but on a first down play Elk Mound made up for it as Alexander pounced on a Bulldog fumble to get the ball back at the Boyceville 38.

The Mounders self-destructed however, with an incomplete pass, two five yard penalties and a fumble that landed in the Bulldog’s hands, giving Boyceville the ball back at their own 44. Boyceville wasn’t exactly running a smooth offense themselves as they were penalized twice moving the ball back 10 yards. After an incomplete pass, four straight running plays including a 35 yarder by Hunter Anderson culminated in Sam Hellmann scoring from four yards out with 5:05 to go. The two point pass attempt fell incomplete however, leaving the Mounders behind by just a single touchdown and extra point.

After Lew returned the ensuing kickoff to the Mounder 38, he ran for three yards and Storing for six, then Storing kept the drive going when he picked up a first down on a third and one with a six yard gain. But another Mounder fumble ended up in the Bulldogs paws and  they kept the ball the rest of the way, succeeding twice on fourth down plays to preserve the win.

“Boyceville played well and brought their pads Friday night,” Elk Mound coach Dave Lew said. “We had some key injuries and a couple of turnovers that hurt us, but these tough lessons will make us better in the long run. Our team is a family and we will continue to play hard until the end of the season,” he added.

Elk Mound had a total of 138 yards in the game as Zurbuchen rushed for 39 yards on 15 carries, Storing added 37 on seven rushes and Nelson completed three of 13 passes for 31 yards.