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Elk Mound ends season with first round playoff loss to Bloomer

BLOOMER — After a two year absence from the WIAA playoffs, the Elk Mound football team took their 7-2 record over to a wet and slippery field in Bloomer to take on the 6-3 Blackhawks Oct. 23.

After finishing 5-2 for second place in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference, the Mounders were a fifth seed beginning the Level I game while Bloomer was 5-2 in the Heart O’ North Conference in a tie for third and were seeded fourth.

After a scoreless first quarter, Bloomer used their physicality they are noted for and pulled out to a 14-6 halftime lead when they kept the ball on the muddy ground to eventually take a 20-6 win to end the Mounders’ season at 7-3.

The game started out much like the Spring Valley game a week before when the Cardinals took the ball down field on the opening drive to score. But in this case, the Mounders didn’t give up the points as they used big stops by Justin Erpenbach and Dane Lew and had help by three holding calls on Bloomer to halt the drive and take over on downs at their own 19 yard line.

Running plays by Ben Mack and Hunter Adleman moved the ball to the 44 but a penalty on the Mounders and an incomplete pass resulted in a punt. The first quarter ended with Bloomer on another drive and it continued into the second where they finished it off with quarterback Jacob Kostner scoring from a yard out. The two point run was stopped after another Bloomer penalty to leave the score at 6-0.

Elk Mound put themselves right back into things when Tyler Sahm took the kickoff back 55 yards to the Blackhawk 35. Mack ran twice and moved the chains but quarterback Lew was hit hard on the next play and left the game on what appeared to be a shoulder injury.

Enter sophomore quarterback Dylan Black who handed off to Adleman for five yards, then after an incomplete pass, Black found Alex Hollister in the corner of the endzone on a fade pass for six points. Their two point run was stopped also but it was 6-6 with 6:20 left in the half.

Bloomer received the squib kick and despite another holding call, they churned down field with four different ball carriers and punched it in again after Tanner Olson broke several tackles from three yards away. Koster then scored the two point conversion to make it 14-6.

Lew returned to his QB spot but with 3:34 to go in the half, the Mounders were forced to punt again after a penalty, a five yard Adleman run and a screen pass to Cole Tyman that netted 0 yards. Bloomer attempted to move the ball again but another penalty (their ninth of the half) forced them to just run out the clock with the lead.

After taking the second half kickoff to their own 40, Mack went on a third down run for 16 yards, but on the next play the wet ball was snapped over Lew’s head and it was recovered by Bloomer deep in Mounder’s territory.

The defense came up with a stop by Andrew Benson for a one yard loss and the Bloomer coach may have been tearing out his hair as the Blackhawks were called twice for a false start, and with a pair of incomplete passes, the Mounders were back in business with the ball in their hands at their own 31. But another mis-handled ball on first down found its way back into Bloomer’s hands and this time they made it hurt.

After one touchdown was called back for another holding call, Kostner snuck over from a yard out and although the two point run was stuffed it was 20-6 with 6:18 left in the third quarter.

George Friberg came up with a 20-yard return on the ensuing kickoff and after Mack ran for seven yards, a dropped pass, and an incomplete pass off a reverse resulted in fourth and 14.

Chris Lee went back to punt which evidently was going to be a fake, but he fumbled the ball. He alertly picked it up however, and scrambled for 40 yards to the Bloomer 21.

But Elk Mound couldn’t gain any ground with a steady rain now coming down and a fourth down incomplete pass gave it back to Bloomer.

Moving into the fourth quarter, the Mounders started to put a drive together as Colin Svee snared a Lew pass for 11 yards and Mack scampered for 16 on the ground. But a fourth down pass went just off the hands of a receiver and the ball went back to the Blackhawks.

The Mounders saved Bloomer from scoring another touchdown when they chased the runner down from behind after a 24-yard gain and after two more Bloomer penalties and two incomplete passes, the Mounders had one final shot with just under four minutes left in the game. Lew ran for 15 yards to the Mounder 33 but that was as far as they went and the game ended with the ball in Bloomer’s hands.

Mack was the leading rusher for the Mounders with 59 hard fought yards on 11 carries while Lee had 40 on his one carry. Lew was 2 for 9 in the passing department for 11 yards while Black was 1 for 2.

“Bloomer is very big and it was a physical game,” Mounder coach Dave Lew said. “Their size caused us some problems so we had to use some younger and inexperienced guys. We had a couple of mistakes on offense and turned the ball over which you cannot do in a playoff game. The weather did hamper some of the things we wanted to do but their D-line was aggressive and we did not have a lot of time to throw. Bloomer was better then us on this night but take away the turnovers and we are right there. We had a great season and myself, staff, school and community are all very proud of this team and the efforts they put in this season,” he added.