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Spartans drop finale at ECM

Superior Telegram

The Superior Spartans ran into a desperate Eau Claire Memorial football team Friday night, and desperation eventually won out.

The Old Abes needed a win Friday to qualify for the WIAA playoffs and they got it with a 27-14 victory over the Spartans at Carson Park in Eau Claire.

Superior (6-3 overall, 4-3 Big Rivers Conference) qualified for the playoffs last week but a victory on Friday would have strengthened its chances of hosting a home playoff game.

The loss cost the Spartans, who were given the No. 6 seed and will have to open the playoffs at No. 3 Chippewa Falls at 7 p.m. Friday.

ECM, meanwhile, will take records of 5-4 and 4-3 into its playoff game at No. 3 Bay Port, also at 7 p.m. Friday.

“Credit Memorial for having a great game plan and executing very well,” SHS coach Bob DeMeyer said. “We had a night where we couldn’t get into any sort of rhythm offensively.  Some of that was due to their scheme, some due to our poor execution.

“Defensively, our kids stood toe-to-toe with a big, talented offensive line, two good backs and a quarterback that played nearly flawless. They kept us on our heels and we weren’t as aggressive and physical as we needed to be. That being said, we still only gave up seven points in the second half. I’m proud of the way we hung in there.”

ECM struck first Friday night with a Jake Ness 3-yard touchdown run up the middle on the Old Abes’ first drive of the game. The extra-point attempt hit the left upright, making the score 6-0 lead with 5:13 left in the first quarter.

Superior got that touchdown right back as Beau Girard returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for the score. Girard took the kick in the middle of the field, got around the left end and ran untouched to the end zone. Sam Kline’s kick gave the Spartans a 7-6 lead.

The Old Abes regained a 13-7 lead on Sean Faacks’ 9-yard run on the fourth play of the second quarter.

The Spartans nearly stopped the drive when they forced ECM into a fourth-down and 7 yards to go for a first down. But on the first play of the second quarter Darian Dieckman threw a 9-yard pass to Ness for the first down, and three plays later Faacks scored his TD.

The Old Abes dug into their bag of tricks to increase their lead to 20-7. Dieckman handed the ball off to a running back, got the ball back and then threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Craig Glassbrenner with 11 seconds remaining in the first half.

The Spartans forced the Old Abes to punt on the first drive of the second half, then got within 20-14 when Girard took a direct snap from center and ran in from 9 yards out.

ECM quickly answered again on Faacks’ 3-yard touchdown run and Mason Craker’s kick. The big play on the drive was Faack’s 45-yard run to the 5-yard line.

“We came out pretty good in the second half, but when they responded by going down the field, that was a great example of how motivated they were,” DeMeyer said. “They played with urgency, needing to win to get into the playoffs. I give their team a lot of credit.”

The game was scoreless in the fourth quarter, allowing ECM to snap a two-game losing streak to Superior.

Superior defeated ECM 52-36 at home last year and 35-7 in 2013. The Old Abes defeated Superior 14-0 in 2012.

Chippewa Falls rallied to defeat Rice Lake 31-30. With the win the Cardinals tied for first place in the BRC with the Warriors. Both teams are 8-1 overall and 6-1 in the BRC.

The title is Rice Lake’s first since 2000. The Cardinals won the BRC in 2007 and 2008.

Friday’s playoff game in Chippewa Falls will be a rematch from Sept. 11 when the Cardinals won 39-7 in Superior.

“As we have before, our team will bounce back this week,” DeMeyer said. “We know what’s at stake and we’ll be focused in our preparation to go to Chippewa and give them a game.”

SPARTAN SPIN: Junior quarterback Gunner Johnson led Superior with 58 yards rushing on 12 carries. He also completed 7-of-16 passes for 118 yards. …. Ross Kennelly led Superior on defense with 18 tackles. Max Plunkett was next with 10. … ECM got 116 yards rushing from Faacks and 112 more from Ness. ... The SHS-CF winner will play the winner of No. 7 Hortonville at No. 2 Menasha.

Superior............................. 7    0     7     0    —    14

Eau Claire Memorial............... 6    14   7     0    —    27

First Quarter

ECM — Jake Ness 3-yard run (kick failed), 5:13.

SHS — Beau Girard 97-yard kickoff return (Sam Kline kick), 4:57.

Second Quarter

ECM — Sean Faacks 9-yard run (Mason Craker kick), 10:16.

ECM — Craig Glassbrenner 24-ayrd pass from Darian Dieckman (Craker kick), 0:11.

Third Quarter

SHS — Girard 9-yard run (Kline kick), 8:27.

ECM — Faacks 3-yard run (Craker kick), 6:59.

Fourth Quarter

No scoring.

———

Team Stats

                                          SHS            ECM

Total Net Yards..................... 263             386

Comp-Att-Int...................... 7-16-0         10-14-0

Passing yards....................... 118             109

Rushing.............................. 37-145         49-277

First Downs........................... 13               17

Punt Returns......................... 0-0              1-1

Kickoff Returns.................... 3-113            3-34

Sacks................................... 1                1

Punts................................ 3-35.0          4-44.2

Fumbles-Lost........................ 0-0              0-0

Penalties-Yards..................... 5-43            6-44

Time of Possession:.............. 20:09           27:51

———

Individual Stats

RUSHING — Superior, Gunnar Johnson 12-58; Ross Kennelly 17-36; Mitch Anderson 5-33; Beau Girard 3-18. ECM, Sean Faacks 19-116; Jake Ness 20-112; Darian Dieckman 7-39; Josh Watson 2-9; Jack Brown 1-1.

PASSING — Superior, Johnson 7-16-1-118. ECM, Dieckman 10-14-0-109.

RECEIVING — Superior, Kennelly 3-58; Brendan French 2-39; Kain Walberg 1-15; Brett Lozon 1-6. ECM, Watson 3-17; Craig Glassbrenner 3-48; Ness 2-19; Chris Ulness 1-13; Faacks 1-12.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

Superior — Kennelly, 18; Max Plunkett, 10; Garrett Hobson, 8; Zach Tharge, 8; Gunnar Gronski, 7; Anderson, 6; Donovan Luoma, 5; Harrison Doane, 5; Corey Sanders, 4; Josiah McDonald, 4; Girard, 3; Blake Graskey, 3; Jon Cronin, 2; Sam Kline, 1.

ECM (53 total) — Adam Krajewski, 9; David Webb, 8; Jack Kern, 8; Andrew Rieck, 6.

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