MANSON - Going into Friday's game with the Cougars of Manson Northwest Webster, Emmetsburg Head Coach Mike Dunlap knew the E-Hawks would be in for a battle.
He was right - for awhile.
After a tied-up first quarter and a three-point lead at the half, Emmetsburg outscored the Cougars 26-7 in the second half to record a 43-21 victory Friday night to improve to 4-1 on the season.
The E-Hawks' first drive on Friday would end up in a punt, but so would the Cougar's. On the second possession, the E-Hawks stared at their own 13 yard line, and with some hard running by Andrew Wellik and Cody Henderson, Emmetsburg would work their way downfield until Wellik threaded his way through the defense for a 33 yard touchdown run with 5:33 to go in the quarter, Nick Merwald added the kick for a quick 7-0 lead.
But, Manson would answer quickly. On their second down play, quarterback Alex Bush hit Hudson Spedding with a 64 yard bomb that was nearly intercepted by Grady Christensen. The kick by Bush tied the score at 7-7, which would carry through the end of the first quarter.
After Emmetsburg punted shortly before the end of the first quarter, the Cougars would end up punting to start the second frame, giving Emmetsburg the ball at their 36. Once again, Emmetsburg ground its way downfield and got inside the 10, but were stopped to set up a fourth and seven at the eight. With 7:52 to go in the quarter, Nick Merwald came away with a 26-yard field goal to give the E-Hawks a 10-7 advantage and a little breathing room.
On the resulting kickoff, the Cougars would fumble the ball at their own 17 yard line, with Austin Krause jumping on the loose ball for the E-Hawks. But in a cruel twist, on the first play after the turnover, the E-Hawks would fumble the ball right back to the Cougars, who recovered it at their own 20.
The Cougars would take over and managed to drive 80 yards, capping off the drive with a four yard score by Brody Eischeid with 3:47 to go in the half. The kick put MNW up by a 14-10 margin, but there was still time to play in the half and the E-Hawks made good use of it.
Starting at their own 35 yard line after the kick, the E-Hawks answered quickly as Wellik took a handoff at the 44 yard line and bounced off tacklers as he ran through the heart of the Cougar defense and outraced the defenders 56 yards for a score with 2:30 to go in the half. Merwald added the kick for a 17-14 lead.
The Cougars would go three and out and Emmetsburg threatened but time ran out with the E-Hawks at the four-yard line for the 17-14 lead at the intermission.
The Cougars would get the ball to start the third quarter, but on fourth and three, tried a fake punt, only to be stopped by the E-Hawks. Emmetsburg took over and methodically drove downfield, capping off a 61-yard drive with a three yard run by Wellik. Merwald's kick made the score 24-14 with 9:34 to go in the third quarter.
Once again, Manson would go three and face a fourth and two only to be stopped again by the E-Hawk defense.
With just over 6:00 to go, the E-Hawks started downfield again, this time capping off a 75-yard drive with a 12 yard run by Wellik with 2:23 to go, the third attempt on the drive after two previous runs of 12 yards were called back on penalties. On the conversion kick, the snap went high. Merwald picked up the ball and attempted a pass into the end zone that fell incomplete, giving Emmetsburg the 30-14 lead.
The E-Hawk defense continued to battle hard as the clock wound down, and with 1:27 to go, Jake Jackson picked off a pass at the Cougars' 35 yard line.
Working down to the 16 yard line to start the final quarter, the E-Hawks got a five yard touchdown from Brady Christensen with 11:32 to go in the game. Merwald's kick made the score 37-14 as the reserves came in for Emmetsburg.
A three and out would follow for the Cougars and Emmetsburg struck again with a two yard run by Allen Jensen with 8:33 to play. The kick was blocked, making the score 43-14.
The E-Hawks would get a sack from Mitch Petersen to kill a Cougar drive and then rand the clock down before turning the ball over on downs. Manson would score with :40 to go off a six yard run by Ty Condon and the kick made the final score 43-21.
Emmetsburg rolled up 566 yards on the ground off 66 carries, while Jake Jackson completed one of four passes for six yards to give the E-Hawks 572 yards, compared with the Cougars' 346 yards.
Andrew Wellik racked up four touchdowns off his 33 carries for 353 yards, while Cody Henderson added six rushes for 55 yards. Allen Jensen added eight rushes to gain 47 yards and Jake Jackson ran the ball seven times to pick up 46 yards.
Austin McCartan made three carries for 37 yards, with Brady Christensen adding three carries for 30 yards, with Nick Schany adding an eight yard run. Mitch Petersen had three rushes for three yards and Brandon Elbert gained two yards.
Defensively, Jake Jackson made nine tackles while Mitch Petersen and Tanner Mitch Petersen and Tanner Dahm both made eight stops and Nick Schany added seven tackles. Mitch Petersen recorded a quarterback sack, while Austin Krause recovered a fumble and Jake Jackson intercepted a pass.
This Friday will mark the end of Homecoming week in Emmetsburg as the E-Hawks play host to the Wolfpack of Hull Western Christian. Kickoff on Friday will be at 7 p.m.