The varsity football team traveled to Evans Stadium in Springfield last night to take on the unbeaten Wildcats in an early season NL East showdown. Both teams brought 3-0 records into the game with dreams of GWOC championships in their head.
The first quarter saw a defensive tussle with a couple of turnovers by each team. After an interception at their own 24-yard line, the Elks defense rose up and intercepted the Wildcats quarterback to give the team the ball back late in the first quarter. From there, the offense started clicking and the Elks broke the scoreless tie when senior quarterback Alec Grandin hit senior wide receiver Donovan Shelton with a 36-yard touchdown pass with just fifty seconds left in the opening quarter. Brandon Walters’ extra point made it 7-0 and that would be the score after one quarter of play.
The second quarter started with another defensive gem from the Elks. Early on, they forced a Wildcats fumble and recovered it. That led to a 32-yard field goal from Walters giving the Elks a 10-0 lead with 8:30 left in the first half. The Wildcats took the ensuing kickoff and drove all the way to the Elks 17-yard line before settling for a field goal attempt. The kick was blocked and the Elks took over the ball with 3:02 left in the first half. Exactly ninety seconds later, Grandin hit senior wide receiver Jake Spiewak with a 58-yard touchdown pass and suddenly the Elks had a commanding, 17-0 lead with just ninety seconds left before halftime. That would be the score as the two teams headed to the locker room to make adjustments.
As the third quarter began, the Elks had the ball first. Unfortunately, the drive stalled when the Wildcats picked off another pass taking possession at their own 36-yard line. Once again, the defense rose up and forced a Wildcats punt. The Elks were unable to get a first down and lined up to punt. However, an errant snap sailed over Walters’ head and the Wildcats recovered the ball at the Elks’ 25-yard line. On the next play, Tavian Smoot scampered 25 yards to the end zone and the Wildcats were finally on the board. Once again the special teams made a great play as the Elks blocked the PAT attempt making the score 17-6 with just 2:59 left in the third quarter. That would be the score as the teams changed ends and prepared for the final 12 minutes of action.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Grandin threw hios third touchdown pass of the night, this time hitting JR Melzer from 28-yards out. Walters’ PAT gave the Elks an 18-point lead, 24-6, with 11:54 left in the game. The Wildcats returned the ensuing kickoff all the way to the Elks 33-yard line. From there, they cored when Smoot ran in from 4-yards out. They went for two and the Elks defense held them out making the score, 24-12, with 10:14 left in the game. Following a punt by the Elks, the Wildcats drove deep downfield in an effort to close the gap to one score. However, a huge sack by Dylan Hiltbrunner gave the ball back to the Elks at their own 17-yard line with just 4:28 left. From there, the ground game took over and the Elks were able to run out the clock and earn a hard-fought, 24-12 win.
On Saturday morning, the JV team lost to the visiting Wildcats, 38-30. That was followed by the freshman game which was won by the Elks, 46-18.
Now 4-0 on the year and 1-0 in the NL East, the Elks return home next Thursday to face the Springboro Panthers. Kickoff is set for 7:00 PM.