It wasn’t the prettiest win, but the Arlington-Lake Preston Badgers went to 2-1 Sept. 4 in Elkton, with a 42-28 win over the Elkton-Lake Benton Elks.
The Badgers now have a week off, which may not be a benefit in COVID-19 season. A-LP returns to action Sept. 18, hosting Deubrook in Lake Preston—assuming the epidemic doesn’t take its toll on either team before then.
The Badgers built a 28-6 lead in the second quarter but then had to hold off a comeback attempt by the E-LB Elks, who closed to within eight at 28-20 before being turned back, 42-28.
The game opened with the Badgers driving behind running back Tate Larsen, but that drive was stopped at the E-LB 15 on a lost fumble. The Badgers’ defense made quick work of the Elks’ offense, however, and Larsen returned the ensuing punt all the way to the E-LB 21.
It took six plays from there, set back by two flags. But on fourth-and-goal from the 10, Jasper Denison hit Mason Bunker on the left side for a 10-yard touchdown pass.
That made it 6-0 with 3:22 left in the first, where it stayed after the two-point pass fell incomplete.
The Elks were pinned back at their own 10 on the next possession, after a reverse on the return didn’t fool the Badgers. Three plays netted six yards, forcing a punt from near the goal line.
Larsen fielded it inside the 50 and raced down the left sideline for a touchdown. That made it 12-0 with 1:45 left in the first, as again the two-point pass fell incomplete.
E-LB again went three-and-out, and Larsen had another good return on the punt, but this time it was brought back to A-LP’s 33 on a block-in-the-back call. The Badgers were driving as the first quarter became the second, with Larsen then Matthew Steffensen moving the ball to the Elks’ 23.
Denison hit Bunker again for 15 over the middle, Steffensen gained six to the two, then it was Steffensen again from there for the touchdown. The score went to 18-0 with 8:14 in the half, and 20-0 after Denison kept the ball for the two. It seemed the rout was on.
But it wasn’t.
The Elks went to the air on first down and gained 17 to their own 34. Two running plays pushed the ball to the 47, then a deep throw by sophomore Ryan Krog to junior Logan Kuehl took the Elks to the A-P four.
Two plays later, junior Aiden Erickson took it in for the touchdown. The two-point pass fell incomplete, but the Elks were on the board with 5:32 left in the half, down 20-6.
But the Badgers weren’t content to sit on the ball. After a holding call sent the ball back to the 16, Larsen ran for 30 to the 46, then Denison hit Christopher Wallace for 50 for the touchdown. Denison added the two-point run, and with 4:15 left, A-LP was up 28-6.
Then the E-LB offense took its turn. Five straight running plays, plus a late-hit penalty by the Badgers, moved the ball to A-LP’s 17, and two more runs got it to the eight.
The Elks called a timeout with 37 seconds left, then converted a critical fourth-and-one on the sneak. With the ball at the five, Krog hit junior Riley Hunter for the score, but the two-point pass failed. With 20 seconds left in the half, the score was 28-12.
Again, the Badgers weren’t content to just run out the clock. Two runs moved the ball to midfield, then Denison hit Bunker on the screen, who took it 41 yards to the E/LB 11. An illegal block flag was declined, and that finally ended the first half.
The second half opened with the Elks in possession at their own 25 and converting on a fake punt to midfield. Two passes moved it to the 33, then Krog hit junior Aiden Erickson from there for the touchdown.
Erickson scored on a run for the two, and with 8:26 left in the third, E-LB had closed the gap to 28-20.
The Badgers needed to blunt the Elks’ momentum and got off to a good start as A-LP’s Dylan Geary covered the short kick at the 40. Runs by Larsen and Denison took the ball to E-LB’s 42, and Denison scored from there, faking the handoff then taking off up the middle.
Denison added the two-point run, and with 6:28 left in the third, A-LP was back up by 16, 36-20.
But the Elks weren’t quite done. Getting the ball back at their own 31, E-LB gambled on a fourth-and-10 and converted on a pass to Kuehl, with a personal foul on the Badgers pushing the ball all the way to A-LP’s 25.
But on first down, Krog’s pass into the end zone was picked off by Bunker, swinging the momentum back to the Badgers.
Up by 16 with the ball at their own 20, the Badgers went to work. Denison ran for 19 on first down, then hit Bunker for 26 more to E-LB’s 25. Two runs moved it to the 18, and a pass interference call in the end zone brought it to the nine.
After a one-yard loss on first-and-goal, Larsen scored from the 10 to put the Badgers up 42-20. The two-point pass failed, but with just 14 seconds left in the third, A-LP was back in control.
Down by three scores, the Elks needed to mount a quick comeback. Instead, E-LB launched a ball-control, clock-eating drive, taking 13 plays and almost six-and-a-half minutes to go 70 yards.
It ended with a 13-yard touchdown by Erickson, but with just 5:53 left in the game. The two-point pass made it 42-28.
With the clock now decidedly in their favor, the Badgers had only to make a few first downs. They did exactly that, moving the sticks three times and eating up four minutes of game time before turning the ball over on downs at E/LB’s 39, with 1:51 left.
Needing two scores with under two minutes left, the Elks tried the deep ball but failed, and A-LP ran the clock out on kneel-downs.
A-LP rushed for 305 yards on 36 carries, led by Larsen with 146 on 17 carries, Denison with 118 yards on 11 carries and Steffensen with 36 yards on five carries. Denison completed five of eight passes for 141 yards, with Bunker catching four for 91, and Wallace catching one for 50.
E-LB rushed for 161 yards on 40 carries, led by Krog with 106 yards on 20 carries and Erickson with 48 yards on 17 carries. Krog completed nine of 17 passes for 145 yards.
On a night that favored the offenses, the Badgers had the run/pass offensive edge, 446-306.
A-LP 12 16 14 0 - 42
E-LB 0 12 8 8 - 28
The Elks, now 0-3, look for their first win at Ramona Friday night, taking on 2-1 Oldham-Ramona-Rutland.