SECTION 3 9-MAN CHAMPIONSHIP: No. 4 Mountain Lake Area handles No. 3 Chargers 58-14

Photo by Sam Thiel Mountain Lake’s AJ Vongsy slips out of a WWG tackle during their Section 3 9-Man Championship matchup on Thursday. The Chargers fell to the Wolverines 58-14.

MARSHALL – The last two seasons, the Westbrook-Walnut Grove football team have fallen victim to Mountain Lake Area in the section playoffs. Thursday night’s matchup ended in similar fashion, as the No. 4 Wolverines stamped their ticket to the state tournament with a 58-14 victory over the No. 3 Chargers in the Section 3 9-Man championship game.

“Obviously things didn’t go well for us. They ran right over us to begin with, but we had a great year,” WWG co-coach Leo Theisen said. “We came a long way and they’re a bunch of great kids, gotta give them credit, but we’re pretty proud of what we did accomplish this year.”

It was all Mountain Lake from the start, as the Wolverines marched down the field on their first possession and scored on a 53-yard run for the opening score. The 2-point conversion was no good, and the Wolverines took a quick 6-0 lead.

The Chargers answered with a deep drive into MLA territory on their first possession, but WWG threw an interception to turn the ball back to the Wolverines. MLA capitalized on the takeaway, breaking open a 76-yard run and adding a 2-point conversion to extend the lead to 14-0.

Neither team would find the scoreboard the rest of the quarter as MLA took a two-score advantage into the second.

Back-to-back mishandled snaps halted the Chargers’ first drive of the second quarter and WWG was forced to punt. The kick was muffed by the Wolverines, however, and the Chargers pounced on the loose ball. WWG couldn’t capitalize on the golden opportunity, though as MLA took over on downs after a few short plays.

The Wolverines then made it 20-0 on another touchdown run before the defense earned another takeaway on an interception on WWG’s next possession. MLA constructed another drive and pushed its way into the end zone on a short run.

After a couple of punts, the Chargers were forced to punt again. The MLA defense then broke past the WWG offensive line and blocked the punt attempt. The ball bounced its way into the end zone where the Wolverines recovered for the special teams score, making it 36-0 with two minutes left in the first half.

MLA then capitalized on another Charger mistake, taking advantage of a fumble to score with less than a minute left in the half to bring it to 44-0 at the break.

The Wolverines continued to add to their lead in the second half, scoring on a 60-yard pass to make it 52-0 with 7:10 left in the third quarter. The Chargers were able to get on the board late in the third, as Andrew Quade scored on a one-yard run before the 2-point conversion from Anthony Ross to Nathan Ross was converted, making it 52-8 with less than three minutes to go in the quarter.

MLA got its final score of the night on a nine-yard run to make it 58-8 before WWG got its last score on a five-yard run by Jake Kleven to bring it to the 58-14 final.

The Chargers also struggled with injuries during the game, as multiple key players went down.

“We got banged up; some key players got banged up right away and they happened to be the heart of our team,” Theisen said.

Co-coach Carter Ross added on the offensive end, they were just trying to survive the rush of the Wolverine defense.

“We were trying to survive. When our tailback, fullback and center went out, all of a sudden you’re going ‘What now?’,” Ross said. “They smelled blood and they came after us.”

WWG ends its season with a 7-4 record.