Elks' late charge is not enough
Fortunately for Minick, the Norskies didn’t have to rely on FEMA to supply crucial aide.
DeForest jumped out to a 14-3 halftime lead and withstood a late Elkhorn threat to post a 14-6 victory in a WIAA Division 2 playoff opener.
With the win, DeForest (9-1) advances to host Milton (8-2) in a second-round matchup Saturday. Elkhorn, which shared the Southern Lakes championship with Milton, finished 8-2.
Making the second round, however, didn’t look too promising for the Norskies against the surging Elks.
Clinging to its 14-6 lead late in the fourth quarter, DeForest didn’t have an answer for an Elks drive that started at their 5 and continued to the Norskies’ 30 with just more than a minute to play.
But a crucial Elkhorn mistake changed the Norskies’ fortunes.
Mike Johnson’s interception at the 17 with 54 seconds left abruptly ended the Elks’ comeback quest.
“It was absolutely a state of emergency there when they drove into our territory,” Minick said. “But we had guys out there that wanted to be out there making plays, and that’s what happened in the end.”
Johnson’s clutch interception also forced Elkhorn coach Dean Wilson to consider the bitter truth.
“It was a pretty even ball game except for the turnovers,’’ said Wilson, whose team committed three turnovers in the game. “They (DeForest) play great ball control, and they don’t make mistakes. They just hammer, hammer, hammer.”
The Norskies did most of their hammering in the first half. After Jake Gahart’s 41-yard field goal gave the Elks a 3-0 lead midway through the first quarter, DeForest pounded out a nine-play drive that was capped by Tyler Lengfeld’s 17-yard touchdown run.
After an Elkhorn punt on the ensuing possession, Minick’s ball-control offense methodically pushed the ball to Elks’ 8. On the next play, quarterback Tyler Benzine scrambled right and then turned back left for an 8-yard touchdown run to give the Norskies a 14-3 advantage.
“We are a run-dominant offense that tries to get it done up front, and we did a good job against them,” Minick said.
DeForest’s powerful running attack continued to bowl over the Elks in the third quarter. The Norskies opened the second half with 15-play, nine-minute drive that pushed to the Elkhorn 8.
Facing a potential three-score deficit, the Elks finally held and then blocked a field goal with 2:49 left in the third.
Elkhorn’s offense then promptly drove to the Norskies’ 6-yard line before settling for a Gahart 23-yard field goal early in the fourth. The Elks never drew closer the rest of the way.
“We kept them to one score and we gave them another one, which against this team is pretty good,” Wilson said. “But we just couldn’t move the ball well enough.”
DeFOREST 14, ELKHORN 6
DeForest 7 7 0 0—14
Elkhorn 3 0 0 3—6
Scoring summary: E—FG, Jake Gahart, 39. D—Tylur Lengfeld, 17 run (Jared Konsella kick). D—Tyler Benzine, 7 run (Konsella kick). E—FG, Gahart, 23.
Statistics: First downs—D 17, E 13. Rushing—D 43-206, E 35-133. Yards passing—D 64, E 112. Passes—D 7-5-0, E 15-8-3. Fumbles—D 0-0, E 0-0. Penalties—D 8-62, E 5-40.