ESKO — The magical ride of the Kelliher-Northome football team came to an end Friday as the Mustangs fell 32-22 to Ely in the Section 7 9-Man championship game in Esko.
Friday’s setback was Kelliher-Northome’s lone blemish on a 10-1 campaign which saw the Mustangs advance to the section title game for the first time since the merger of the two communities.
The game featured a pair of high-powered offenses and in the first half both teams showcased those weapons. Defenses also were on display, however, as each team scored a defensive touchdown in the first half.
Ely struck first Friday as Josh Heiman capped an abbreviated drive that began on the Mustangs’ 38 with a 5-yard run.
K-N had the immediate answer, however, as quarterback Isaiah Rahier orchestrated an 80-yard drive that featured eight plays, including a 36-yard pass to Dylan Villaran and a 24-yard connection with Cal Roosdett.
The latter reception set the table for Chris Rieger’s 1-yard run.
Rahier also connected with Mark Geerdes for the 2-point conversion and the Mustangs led 8-6 nine minutes into the period.
On the third play of Ely’s next possession the Timberwolves fumbled and Kelliher-Northome recovered at its 48. Rosdett gained 31 yards on a reverse with the first play of the march but two plays later the Wolves put the ball on the ground and Ely turned the mistake into an 83-yard touchdown.
K-N regained the lead on its next drive as Geerdes capped the 12-play, 75-yard march with a 1-yard run.
A few plays later Eli Rahier contributed a “pick-6” when he intercepted a tipped pass at the Ely 38 yard line and raced into the end zone for the score.
Kelliher-Northome’s 14 points in 90 seconds gave the Wildcats momentum and a 22-12 lead with 4:37 to play in the second quarter.
Ely, however, dominated the rest of the half. With three minutes to play Louis Gerzin scored with a run to draw the Timberwolves within 22-18.
Kelliher-Northome failed to gain a first down on its next possession and the Wolves never did get off the punt as a high snap gave Ely the ball at the K-N 16.
The Wolves’ defense held and forced a fourth down from the original line of scrimmage but Ely quarterback Sean Jordan rescued the Timberwolves when he hit Heiman on a 16-yard TD pass with 21 seconds to play in the half.
Ely owned a 26-22 advantage at intermission and neither team found the end zone in the third period.
Late in the final stanza, however, Ely iced the win with a 1-yard TD run.
Section 7 9-Man Championship
Ely 12 14 0 6 - 32
Kelliher-Northome 8 14 0 0 - 22
E-Heiman, 5-run. PAT-kick failed. 5:55
KN-Rieger, 1-run. PAT-Geerdes, pass from I.Rahier. 9:16
E-Gerzin, 83-fumble recovery. PAT-pass fail. 11:53
KN-Geerdes, 1-run. PAT-I.Rahier run. 5:41
KN-E.Rahier, 38-interception return. PAT-run fail. 7:23
E-Gerzin, run. PAT-run fail. 8:54
E-Heiman, 16-pass from Jordan. PAT-Gerzin run. 11:39
E-Conaway, 1-run. PAT-pass fail. 3:08