ELK MOUND — Trailing by six points heading into the fourth quarter, three turnovers by the Elk Mound football team were too much to overcome as they lost their game on homecoming night to the Mondovi Buffaloes 26-20 Oct. 3.
Although Mondovi is the defending conference champion, they have fallen on hard times after losing most of their starters from last season. Both teams were winless in conference play to start the game and both had one non-conference win.
Mondovi took the opening kickoff to their own 40 and by using the pounding running game they have employed over the past few years, they moved the ball downfield in 11 plays, resulting in quarterback Jake Ede scoring from a yard out. A two point run made it 8-0 for the Buffs with 7:22 showing on the clock.
With starting signal caller Dane Lew out for the season with a broken leg, the Mounders started their first possession with running back Noah Zurbuchen taking the direct snap in a Wildcat formation. They went three and out however, and were forced to punt. The defense stepped up and held Mondovi on the next series with Jordan Vanschoonhoven breaking up two straight pass attempts to force a punt. The Mounders started at the Mondovi 42 and with senior Shawn Flynn stepping into the quarterback spot, they kept the ball on the ground. Zurbuchen and Hunter Adleman took turns rushing and moving into the second quarter, the ball was at the Buffaloes’ one yard line. After fumbling the snap, Flynn kept his composure and ran to the right side for the score, and after Zurbuchen ran for the two point conversion, it was 8-8 with 10:58 left in the quarter.
Mondovi used a seven plus minute drive to march down the field again, picking up four first downs (one by just two inches) and scored on an Austin Fedie run from 17 yards out. The Mounders stopped the conversion pass but were down 14-8 with 4:20 left in the half. Elk Mound couldn’t sustain any type of drive and gave the ball back via a punt with two and a half minutes to go and Mondovi took advantage, completing two passes, one for a 29 yard score when Sawyer Hayes got behind the Mounder defenders. Elk Mound again broke up a conversion pass but they were down 20-8 at the intermission.
Neither team was able to move the ball for most of the third quarter partly due to the on and off rainfall. After a 38 yard punt by the Mounder’s Cole Tyman late in the quarter, Mondovi was pinned back on their own nine. Vanschoonhoven broke up another pass and on the next play, a Buffalo fumble was recovered by the Mounders on the five yard line. After three running plays and a penalty on Mondovi, Zurbuchen punched it in from a yard out. The two point run failed but Elk Mound was back in business down 20-14 with 2:50 to play in the third. The Mounders then forced a Mondovi punt but on a first down run, Zurbuchen lunged for some extra yardage and the ball squirted out of his hands and was recovered by Mondovi. On the next play however, Vanschoonhoven, who already was having quite a defensive game, picked off a pass to give his team the ball back at their own 30. On a third down pass attempt, Flynn’s arm was hit by a defender and the ball fluttered into the hands of Ryan Schwartz who rambled into the end zone for a 15 yard score. The conversion pass failed but with 9:51 to go, the Mounders were down 26-14.
The Mounders may have been down but they certainly were not out as they put together a long drive on their next possession and with Zurbuchen taking the snaps again, he ran four consecutive times for a first down. He and Adleman alternated running to get to the Buffalo eight and yet another fumble landed in the hands of Mondovi. Elk Mound’s defense stood tall with Adam Wolgemuth putting the big hit on the Buffalo runner on fourth down to get the ball back. Zurbuchen opened it up and completed two passes to Jon Storing and with a minute left, Zurbuchen found the end zone from four yards out. The two point run failed and the subsequent onside kick was recovered by Mondovi, allowing them to run out the clock.
“Mondovi was very physical and our turnovers hurt us,” coach Dave Lew said. “We will continue to work hard and try to improve. We still have some fight left in us as we head into our last two games.”
Zurbuchen led the rushing attack for the Mounders with 77 yards on 20 carries while Adleman ran for 66 yards on 13 attempts. Zurbuchen was two for two passing for 48 yards.
Elk Mound will travel to Boyceville this Friday night, then will host conference leading St. Croix Central next week.