CONESTOGA – Elmwood-Murdock and Conestoga remained in the same scoring jet stream for a large portion of the first half on Friday night.
The Knights created a winning football weather report with a tornado of scoring activity just before the break.
Elmwood-Murdock found the end zone three times in the final 1:34 of the first half during a 52-8 triumph. Conestoga remained within 7-0 after one quarter and kept the margin at 15-0 until the last stretch of the second period. Elmwood-Murdock recovered a pair of kickoffs and connected on two scoring passes and one touchdown run to create a 37-0 lead.
Elmwood-Murdock head coach Lance Steffen said the Knights wanted to take charge of the contest with their powerful offense. Conestoga’s defense forced an interception and punt midway through the first half before E-M embarked on a 78-yard drive. That set the stage for the late scoring storm several minutes later.
“We found ourselves in a battle there for a little while,” Steffen said. “The boys kept going and did a really nice job in the last part of the first half. It was good to see them play well and finish our scoring opportunities.”
Conestoga head coach Trenton Clausen said he was proud of the younger Cougars for creating a competitive contest early in the evening. The team’s lineup included a number of freshmen who were on the field during the game.
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“We played really well in the first quarter,” Clausen said. “We were down to eight players who were non-freshmen at one point, so we were young out there. Our defense got put in some tough situations as far as field position late in the first half, but our guys competed hard.”
Conestoga (1-6) sliced more than six minutes off the clock with a 51-yard drive to start the game. Elmwood-Murdock (4-3) took over at the 22-yard line and marched downfield for the opening score. Henry Coleman made a leaping one-handed catch at the 13-yard line, and Cade Hosier barreled up the middle on the next play to create a 7-0 lead.
Conestoga’s Breckin Berg intercepted a long pass on E-M’s next series, and a sack by Wyatt Renner forced the Knights to punt on their next possession. Renner then boomed a punt for Conestoga that rolled to the 2-yard line.
Reid Fletcher capped Elmwood-Murdock’s long drive with a 37-yard touchdown pass to Braden Mommens with 5:40 to go. The Knights extended their 15-0 lead with a short touchdown run by Hosier, and Tyson Mans recovered an onside kick to begin another scoring drive. Hosier finished a run at the 3-yard line and Rylan Kastens caught a two-point conversion pass for a 31-0 edge.
Kayden Bacon continued E-M’s momentum when he recovered the football on the ensuing kickoff. That allowed Fletcher to find Coleman on a post route in the middle of the field for a lightning-quick 18-yard touchdown.
Elmwood-Murdock scored twice in the second half. Fletcher sprinted four yards up the middle and completed a two-point pass to Jaxson Spellman in the third quarter. Riley Wilson connected with Coleman on a 19-yard touchdown play in the fourth quarter.
Conestoga got on the scoreboard with 5:48 in the game. Jayden Widler found a running lane and sprinted 65 yards into the end zone.
Fletcher went 8-of-13 through the air for 155 yards and two touchdowns. Hosier ran 18 times for 171 yards and three touchdowns, and Mommens hauled in four passes for 87 yards and one touchdown. Coleman made four catches for 72 yards and two touchdowns, and Wilson snagged one 14-yard pass for the Knights.
Spellman recovered one fumble and finished with three solo and six assisted stops. Hosier produced three solo and seven assisted tackles and Sam Clements tallied two solo and seven assisted tackles. Max Wynegar and Fletcher each made two solo and six assisted plays, Coleman had two solo and five assisted stops and Mommens tallied one solo and seven assisted tackles.
Cody Kopf, Bacon and Mans each recovered one fumble and Spellman made three tackles for loss. Clements, Coleman and Wynegar all posted two stops behind the line of scrimmage, and Mommens and Fletcher each made one tackle for loss.
Widler led Conestoga’s offense with eight carries for 91 yards and one touchdown. Keaghon Chini carried the football 20 times for 80 yards and Carter Plowman gained four yards on five attempts.
Berg finished with one interception and made four solo and four assisted tackles. Widler pocketed six solo and three assisted stops, Renner had three solo tackles and Evan Svanda collected two solo tackles. Plowman and Gage Totilas each chipped in two solo and three assisted tackles for the Cougars.
Elmwood-Murdock will finish the regular season Thursday night with a home game against Cedar Bluffs (0-7). The Knights and Wildcats are scheduled to begin action at 7 p.m.
Conestoga will play its final game of the fall on Friday night. The Cougars will travel to Omaha Brownell-Talbot (2-5) for a 7 p.m. matchup.
“It’s going to be a new week for us,” Clausen said. “We’re looking forward to the opportunity to take the field again.”
Elmwood-Murdock 7 30 8 7 – 52
Conestoga 0 0 0 8 – 8
E-M – Hosier 13 run (Coleman kick), 4:01
E-M – Mommens 37 pass from Fletcher (Hosier run), 5:40
E-M – Hosier 2 run (Hosier run), 1:34
E-M – Hosier 3 run (Kastens pass from Fletcher), 0:41
E-M – Coleman 18 pass from Fletcher (run no good), 0:25
E-M – Fletcher 4 run (Spellman pass from Fletcher), 1:53
E-M – Coleman 19 pass from Wilson (Coleman kick), 6:44
CHS – Widler 65 run (Chini run), 5:48