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Mounders let early lead slip away, drop contest to Eleva-Strum

STRUM — After defeating the Eleva-Strum Cardinals the last five times they played them, the Elk Mound football team had one big play by the Cardinals early in the fourth quarter take their momentum away, resulting in a 22-14 loss. The Thursday night game was played in a steady rain in Strum Aug. 28.

The Mounders took a 6-0 lead as Noah Zurbuchen rushed five times on a 10 play drive and scored from a yard out with 5:36 to go in the first quarter. But the Cardinals responded a minute later with a 55 yard run by Quinn Olson and a two point conversion pass by Kelton Olson to Gage Everson for an 8-6 lead. After E-S recovered an Elk Mound fumble, Everson scored again from a yard out in the second quarter and another two point pass was completed for a 16-6 halftime lead. The score could have been worse but the Mounders came up with a big goal line stand just before the half to keep the score close.

Elk Mound came out with a full head of steam the second half, stiffening their defense then using a short field to go on a 37 yard drive, culminating in another Zurbuchen touchdown run from two yards out. Ben Mack ran in for the two point conversion and the Mounders were down just 16-14 with 1:30 left in the third quarter.

After shutting the Cardinals down on three plays, forcing them into a fourth and five at their own 42, it appeared the Mounders had picked up some momentum. But a fake punt, with the punter Mathew Higley completing a pass to Olson, caught the Mounders off guard and the end result was a 58 yard scoring play for the Cardinals early in the fourth quarter. Elk Mound had three possessions in the final 11 minutes but couldn’t put a drive together for any more points.

“That fake punt was a big momentum breaker for us,” Elk Mound coach Dave Lew said. “We were starting to put things together and that just changed everything. We did not execute very well and Eleva-Strum was much more aggressive then we were. Our young players have to learn to play in adverse conditions and to not hang their heads when they give up a big play,” he added.

Elk Mound finished with 194 total yards in the game with 165 on the ground. Zurbuchen rushed for 66 yards on 17 carries, Mack added 48 on seven carries and Jon Storing ran for 29 on eight attempts on the wet field. Quarterback Dane Lew completed three of 11 passes for 29 yards.

The Mounders begin conference play as they travel to Spring Valley this Friday night.