Friday, September 21, 2018
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Eagles no match for Gothenburg

Swedes defeat Wood River 40-7.

Wood River hoped to bring a bigger, more physical team into Gothenburg Friday night and hammer away at the Swedes.

It didn’t take long for the Eagles to realize, though, that size doesn’t matter against this Gothenburg team.

“We wanted to send a message that we’re not very big but nobody is going to beat us down,” said Swede coach Craig Haake.

The Swedes jumped on Wood River early and held the lead throughout the game, winning by a convincing 40-7 margin.

“It was a good opener for us,” Haake said. “We were able to force a couple of turnovers and get the lead but we still had to play. Wood River is a solid team.”

Gothenburg scored on the Swedes’ first possession early in the first quarter.

After five rushing plays that took the Swedes to the 50-yard line, quarterback Mark Hilderbrand bobbled the ball heading to the outside.

Luckily, it bounced right back up into his hands and he ran the distance for the touchdown. Holding on tight, Hilderbrand also scored the two-point conversion to put Gothenburg up 8-0.

Wood River tried to chip away at the field with 2- and 3-yard runs but an interception and return by Tannor Mroczek from the Eagles’ 30-yard line gave the Swedes another touchdown.

The PAT throw fell incomplete but the Swedes led 14-0 after just under five minutes.

“This was a hard hitting game,” Haake said. “Wood River had a couple of middle backers who blitzed hard every play.”

After Wood River fumbled the kickoff return and Andrew Kennedy recovered, the Swedes got another chance but turned the ball over on downs.

The Eagles took advantage of the opportunity, scoring on the next possession.

Shad Smith was able to squirt out of a mass of bodies to run 50 yards for a Wood River touchdown with 2:49 to play in the quarter. A PAT kick by Briar Burr left the score at 14-7.

Gothenburg had another shot to score before the quarter ended when Tannor Mroczek carried the ball in from 5 yards out but fumbled into the endzone.

Wood River recovered for the touchback but couldn’t turn an 11-play drive into points.

“We seemed to have a little bit of an issue with ball security,” Haake said. “That’s something we’re going to work on.”

After forcing the Eagles to turn the ball over on downs in the second quarter, Gothenburg went three and out.

Wood River returned the favor and the Swedes capitalized.

After a 30-yard punt return by Mroczek, the Swedes used four plays and an Eagle penalty to drive 36 yards, capping the effort with a 4-yard run into the endzone by Landen Haake.

Hilderbrand ran in the PAT to put the Swedes up 22-7 with 3:30 to go in the half.

The coach applauded his offensive line made up mostly of untested players.

“Wood River started throwing the sink at them for awhile. I think some of the coaches may have even been blitzing,” Haake said. “They came and hit and we not only survived but we thrived. They did a fantastic job of paving the way for our backs.”

The third quarter was nothing but a Gothenburg show of persistence. The Swedes controlled the ball the entire 12 minutes,.

After 21 plays, Gothenburg scored on a halfback pass from Landen Haake to Andrew Ostendorf with 50 seconds left in the third.

After the kickoff, Wood River fumbled on their own 42-yard line the first time the Eagles got the ball in the quarter.

Gothenburg used the turnover to score again, this time on a 9-yard run by Hilderbrand. The two-point conversion failed but the Swedes still lead 34-7.

“We had some kids with their tongues hanging out,” Haake said. “We got a little tired but they just kept fighting.”

With substitutes in the game, Gothenburg finished off the scoring with a 3-yard run by Tyler Aden with 7:10 left on the clock. A couple of penalty calls on the two-point conversion left the Swedes too far out to score.

Gothenburg rushed for 358 yards, led by Landen Haake with 141 yards on 21 carries. Hilderbrand added 127 yards on 15 attempts.

The Swedes had 414 yards total offense compared with 182 yards for Wood River.

The Swedes will travel to Ord for a 7 p.m. game Friday, their second non-district game.

“I think we surprised them last year,” Haake said. “We jumped on them early and coasted from there.”

The Chanticleers may be the only team on Gothenburg’s schedule with smaller overall size.

“I’d like to see us be a little more efficient in our passing game,” the coach said. “We have faster receivers than we’ve had in quite a while and we need to keep opponents honest.”