Standing 6-foot-9, Nick Spang isn’t hard to spot in a crowd.
But for one play, the Edgerton senior receiver enjoyed a moment of obscurity.
Spang snuck behind 11 McFarland defenders and nabbed a 33-yard touchdown pass to ignite a 28-point outburst and propel Edgerton to an impressive 28-7 Rock Valley Conference victory at McFarland on Friday night.
Sykler Gullickson, Ethan Krause and Drew Hanson later added touchdown runs of 9, 1, and 5 yards, respectively, to help the Crimson Tide get the better of the rival Spartans a year after McFarland went 9-0 in league play to hold off 8-1 Edgerton.
“Last year we spent the entire year chasing McFarland,” Edgerton coach Mike Gregory said. “But now they can chase us this year.”
For the first 20 minutes of the season, the Crimson Tide were again chasing the Spartans.
Seven plays into the game, McFarland junior receiver Jacob Semmann put the finishing touches on a near-perfect opening drive with a nifty 28-yard touchdown run on a bubble screen pass from Nicholas Hall.
The Spartans maintained a seven-point lead for the first 20 minutes of the game and seemed poised to carry it into halftime.
Edgerton finally got things rolling on an eight-play, 93-yard scoring drive capped by Hanson’s 33-yard touchdown pass to Spang to tie it at 7 late in the second quarter.
“We saw that they were crashing hard on the run, so I boot-legged and got Nick open,” said Hanson, who was making his second-career varsity start. “I didn’t think Nick could ever be that open because he’s huge.”
The big play helped turn momentum in the Crimson Tide’s favor the rest of the way.
“We weathered the storm,” Gregory said. “Then I think in the second half we kind of wore them down a bit and took control.”
Edgerton indeed was the stronger team in the second half, outscoring the Spartans 21-0. Skyler Gullickson put Edgerton ahead for good with a nine-yard touchdown run a jet sweep to make it 14-7 late in the third quarter.
The Spartans appeared to have knotted the game at 14 on Hall’s 20-yard run on the ensuing drive, but a crucial holding penalty denied the score. The Crimson Tide’s defense held from there to preserve the lead.
Krause’s 1-yard touchdown run and Hanson’s 5-yard score put the game on ice.
“If we don’t get that holding penalty, its 14-14 and a whole different football game,” Gregory said. “We’re fortunate, and I’ll watch the film, but I’ll say right now I’m not happy.”
With a 21-point victory, though, Gregory can’t be too unhappy.
And now his team will host Evansville on Friday night.
EDGERTON 28, MCFARLAND 7
Edgerton 0 7 7 14—28
McFarland 7 0 0 0—7
Scoring: M—Jacob Semmann- 28 pass from Nicholas Hall (Matthew Amrhein kick). E—Nick Spang 33 pass from Drew Hanson (Ismael Diaz kick). E—Skyler Gullickson 9 run (Dias kick). E—Ethan Krause 1 run (Diaz kick). E—Hanson 5 run (Diaz kick).
Statistics: First downs—E 18, M 10. Yards rushing—E 35-129, M 31-137. Passing—E 16-13-0, M 10-7-1. Yards passing—E 172, M 54. Fumbles—E 2-1, E 5-1. Penalties—E 5-35, M 5-40.