ELMWOOD – Elmwood-Murdock and Nebraska City Lourdes had played a close football game during their initial eight-man meeting in 2018.
E-M made sure the 2019 version of their district game had a far different storyline.
Elmwood-Murdock outmuscled Nebraska City Lourdes 58-22 in front of a Parents Night crowd in Elmwood. E-M piled up 465 rushing yards and wore down NCL as the game went on. The team scored 38 points in the second quarter and maintained a large gap in the final 24 minutes.
E-M head coach Lance Steffen said he was proud of the Knights for their work. He said athletes displayed crisp performances on offense, defense and special teams for all four quarters.
“Our effort tonight was fantastic,” Steffen said. “The guys brought it tonight. We played with energy, we executed our game plan really well and everyone was having fun. This was a great team win for us against a good opponent.”
Elmwood-Murdock entered the game fresh off a bye week. Steffen said the time off was beneficial for the team in a number of ways.
“It gave us a chance to get healthy, which is always important, and it gave us time to clean up some of the small things that we needed to work on,” Steffen said. “It was nice to catch our breath a bit and get focused on the second half of the regular season. I think the guys really took advantage of that and made the most of it. Our practices were really good leading up to tonight’s game.”
Steffen said E-M’s offensive linemen paved the way for the victory with their work in the trenches. The starting unit of Noah Jones, Carson vonRentzell, Tyler Marlatt, Gus Pope, Noah Willey, Justin Wolph and Hunter Hansen asserted themselves against a Nebraska City Lourdes line that featured several large players.
The E-M group opened up holes for teammates to sprint through all night. Drake Spohr ran 18 times for 306 yards and six touchdowns, and Noah Arent, Jared Drake and Cade Hosier combined for 158 yards on their 33 carries.
“They’re the story of the game,” Steffen said. “Our offensive line was great tonight. There are a lot of guys who put up big stats, but it was the guys up front who did the dirty work that allowed us to win. I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of their effort.”
Both schools engineered long scoring sequences in the first quarter. Elmwood-Murdock took 5:53 off the clock on a 42-yard series that featured 14 running plays. Spohr ended the drive with a fourth-and-goal sprint from the 3-yard line. NCL countered with a 5:13 series capped by Blake Miller’s touchdown from the 5-yard line.
The teams traded touchdowns from Spohr and Miller early in the second quarter before E-M took over. Spohr and Arent produced scoring runs of 44 and 42 yards to make it 28-14, and the Knights capitalized on a fumble recovery with a short run from Drake with 5:13 left.
E-M created a 44-14 edge after Willey intercepted a pass at the NCL 1-yard line 0:54 before halftime. The Knights chewed up 79 yards on the next five plays. Spohr scored with 0:03 left and Drake converted a two-point conversion run.
Nebraska City Lourdes (1-4) tried to get back in the game when Aldana scored on the first series of the second half. E-M took the wind out of their sails with a methodical 68-yard drive after that. The team sliced 6:32 off the clock and made it 50-22 on Spohr’s six-yard run.
The Knights created the final margin after Cody Kopf recovered a fumble at the NCL 12-yard line. Spohr finished the drive with a 48-yard touchdown run.
Spohr collected the second-best rushing total in E-M history with his 306 yards. Justin Drake gained 322 yards against Omaha Brownell-Talbot in 2016.
Spohr became the first player in Elmwood-Murdock history to score six times in one game. Seven athletes had previously posted five touchdowns on one night.
Arent ran seven times for 79 yards and Jared Drake collected 41 yards on 16 carries. Hosier added 38 yards on ten attempts and Willey ran once for one yard.
Spohr and Kopf both recovered fumbles and Willey made one interception. Spohr generated four solo and eight assisted tackles and Jaxson Spellman made four solo and three assisted plays. Arent chipped in four solo and two assisted tackles.
Marlatt tallied three solo and seven assisted tackles, Drake made two solo and seven assisted stops and Sam Behrends produced two solo and five assisted tackles. Riley Rose had two solo tackles and vonRentzell pitched in two solo and four assisted stops.
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Willey kept NCL pinned deep all night with his kicking abilities. His first six kickoffs resulted in touchbacks.
Elmwood-Murdock will travel to Weeping Water (3-1) on Oct. 4 for a key district matchup. The Knights and Indians are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
Nebraska City Lourdes 6 8 8 0 – 22
Elmwood-Murdock 6 38 6 8 – 58
EM – Spohr 3 run (pass no good), 6:00
NCL – Miller 5 run (pass no good), 0:47
EM – Spohr 47 run (Drake pass from Spohr), 11:50
NCL – Miller 12 run (Aldana run), 10:10
EM – Spohr 44 run (pass no good), 9:54
EM – Arent 42 run (Drake run), 6:59
EM – Drake 6 run (Drake run), 5:13
EM – Spohr 3 run (Drake run), 0:03
NCL – Aldana 1 run (Aldana run), 8:58
EM – Spohr 6 run (pass no good), 2:22
EM – Spohr 48 run (Arent run), 4:20