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Kline kicks Spartans past Old Abes

Jed Carlson/jcarlson@superiortelegram.com Superior’s Sam Kline (87) celebrates with teammates CJ Fortune (25) and Gunner Johnson (10) after kicking the game winning field goal as time expired during the Spartans game with Eau Claire Memorial on Friday night. 1 / 6
Jed Carlson/jcarlson@superiortelegram.com Superior’s Zach Tharge (31) knocks the ball away from Keagan Calchera (10) towards the end of the fourth quarter of the Spartans win over Eau Claire Memorial on Friday night. 2 / 6
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Sam Kline’s 22-yard field goal as time expired gave the Superior High School football team a 22-21 victory over the Eau Claire Memorial Old Abes Friday night at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex.

Kline’s winning kick became possible when Superior’s Zach Tharge recovered an Old Abe fumble near midfield with 1:50 remaining.

Kline then helped out on the game-winning drive with a 40-yard reception, giving the Spartans the ball at the 24 with 1:37 remaining.

Runs of 13 and 2 yards by Gunnar Gronski put the ball on the 5 with 3 seconds remaining.

The Old Abes then attempted to ice Kline by calling a time out, but Kline was perfect from the left hash mark as the Spartans improved to 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the Big Rivers Conference.

“I really can’t put it into words,” Kline said. “To be honest, I think when they called time out that helped calm me down. All of my teammates came up to me and said, ‘We love you Sam, we’ll always be there for you,’ and that helped me put it through.”

Spartan coach Bob DeMeyer also had faith in Kline.

“I was very confident — he’s money in practice every day,” DeMeyer said. “He told us to leave it on the left hash and that he would put it through. I actually thought Gronski was going to score on the previous play, but Sam came through.”

Ironically, Kline missed two kicks earlier in the game. He missed his first extra-point attempt of the season after the Spartans took a 6-0 lead when Kline hauled in a 29-yard touchdown pass from Gunner Johnson. Kline then was wide left on a 43-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter.

“The coaches pulled me to the side when I missed the first one and told me I would get another chance and to shake it off, and that’s exactly what I did,” Kline said. “It was a great win by the team. I can’t say anything about myself, it was all them.”

Johnson also had a big game for Superior, completing 14-of-23 passes for 306 yards and two touchdowns. The senior also rushed for 80 yards on 11 attempts.

Kline caught eight of Johnson’s passes for 154 yards and Max Plunkett added four catches for 84 yards. Corey Sanders and Gronski added 41 and 39 yards rushing, respectively.

For the Old Abes (2-1, 0-1), Keagan Calchera was 4-of-9 passing for 32 yards and he rushed for 142 yards on 16 carries. Jack Brown led ECM on the ground with 182 yards on 19 carries.

The Spartans took the opening kick and marched 80-yards in eight plays before Johnson found Kline on the left sidelines in the end zone with 8:49 left in the first quarter.

Kline was 10-of-10 on extra-point kicks this season until he missed the extra point. It was also just his second miss in two seasons — he was 29-of-30 last season.

The Old Abes took the next kickoff and eventually found themselves on the 1-yard line on third down. ECM lost 3 yards on the next play, and on fourth down Plunkett intercepted a Calchera pass in the end zone.

“We were just reading our keys, we read the right play and somehow I ended up with the ball,” Plunkett said. “He might have had me beat a bit, but I won the battle.”

Superior was eventually forced to punt, and Kline’s kick pinned ECM on its own 6-yard line on the last play of the first quarter.

Runs of 50 and 25 yards by Jack Brown helped set up Keagan Calchera’s 1-yard touchdown run with 8:03 left in the second quarter. Mason Craker’s kick gave the Old Abes a 7-6 lead.

ECM added to its lead when Zach Wolfe scooped up a Spartan fumble and returned it 67 yard for a touchdown. Craker’s kick made it 14-6 with 2:46 left in the first half.

“That could have been a back-breaker,” DeMeyer said. “This is just a testament to the kind of kids we have. We made some mistakes tonight, but our kids just played their hearts out.”

The Spartans got that touchdown back two plays later when Corey Sanders hauled in a 66-yard touchdown pass from Johnson. Superior was stopped on the two-point conversion, leaving the score 14-12 in favor of the Old Abes.

ECM proceeded to drive into SHS territory again, but the drive ended on the 12-yard line when Luke Drougas intercepted a pass with 36 seconds left in the half.

The Spartans and Old Abes traded missed field goals in a scoreless third quarter, Kline from 43 yards and Craker from 40. Both kicks were wide left.

The Old Abes increased their lead to 21-12 on Calchera’s 13-yard touchdown run on a draw play up the middle with 5:36 remaining.

The Spartans came right back and made it a 21-19 game on Gronski’s 5-yard touchdown run around the left side and Kline’s extra-point kick.

“Memorial is a very good team and they had a lot to do with our mistakes,” DeMeyer said. “They’re a physical team and we had a hard time doing anything inside. They are also physical running the ball. We had a hard time stopping them.”

Johnson was 14-of-23 passing for 306 yards. Kline caught eight of those passes for 154 yards, and Plunkett added four catches for 84 yards.

Johnson also rushed for 80 yards on 11 carries. Sanders added 41 yards and Gronski had 39 yards.

Jack Brown rushed for 182 yards on 19 carries for ECM. Keagan Calchera added 142 yards rushing on 16 carries and threw for 32 yards on 4-of-9 passing.

The Spartans (3-0, 1-0) host the Hudson Raiders (3-0, 1-0) at 7 p.m. Friday.

The Raiders are coming off a 38-0 win over Eau Claire North.

SPARTAN SPIN: In all three games this season the Spartans have stopped their opponents inside the 10-yard line on the first drive of the game. … Sanders also intercepted a pass for Superior, and Gronski had a quarterback sack. … Superior played without defensive linemen Josiah McDonald and Gabe Sexton. … ECM unofficially leads the all-time series with Superior 37-29-4. … The annual DECA tailgate party raised $2,241 for “Hunger Takes No Holiday.”

Eau Claire Mem...................... 0    14    0    7   —  21

Superior............................... 6     6     0   10   —  22

First Quarter

SHS — Sam Kline 29-yard pass from Gunner Johnson (kick failed), 8:49.

Second Quarter

ECM — Keagan  Calchera 1-yard run (Mason Craker kick), 8:03.

ECM — Zach Wolfe 67-yard fumble return (Craker kick), 2:46.

SHS — Corey Sanders 66-yard pass from Johnson (run failed), 1:51.

 

Fourth Quarter

ECM — Calchera 13-yard run (Craker kick), 5:36.

SHS — Gunnar Gronski 5-yard run (Kline kick), 3:49.

SHS — Kline 22-yard field goal, 0:00.

TEAM STATISTICS

                                         ECM             SHS

Plays.................................. 53                55

Total Yards.......................... 381              478

Passing Yards...................... 32               306

Rushing Yards...................... 349              172

First Downs.......................... 14                19

Third Down......................... 8-12              5-9

Fourth-Down........................ 1-1               1-1

Penalties............................. 7-47             5-40

Fum./Lost............................ 2-1               1-1

Time................................. 26:12            21:48

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING—SHS, Gunner Johnson, 11-80; Corey Sanders, 6-41; Gunnar Gronski, 11-39; CJ Fortune, 2-9; Zach Tharge, 2-3. ECM, Jack Brown, 19-182; Keagan Calchera, 16-of-142; Nate Anderson, 1-16; Carson Johannsen, 3-12; Adam Krajewski, 3-2; Zach Wolfe, 1-(-5).

PASSING—SHS, Johnson, 14-23-1-306. ECM, Calchera, 4-9-3-32.

RECEIVING—SHS, Sam Kline, 8-154; Max Plunkett, 4-84; Sanders, 1-66. ECM, Isaac Clark, 1-8; Daniel Reinfranck, 1-12; Sam Hanson, 1-8; Carson Johannsen, 1-4.

DEFENSE

Superior

                                          Total      Solo       Ass.

Drake Samarzia....................... 6          3           3

Luke Drougas.......................... 6          6           x

Joe Carter.............................. 6          5           1

Max Plunkett.......................... 3          3           x

Trevor Dalbec......................... 1          x           1

Chase Elder........................... 1          1           x

Corey Sanders........................ 4          3           1

Zach Tharge........................... 3          3           x

Blake Grasky.......................... 9          7           2

Chase Summerfield.................. 6          5           1

Gunner Gronski....................... 6          5           1

Jack Sannes........................... 4          4           x

Dylan Lowney......................... 3          3           x

Total.................................... 58         48         10

Eau Claire Memorial, Adam Krajewski, 7; Kyle Wilson, 5; Jack Kern, 4.

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