By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
For three quarters Friday night, neither the Imperial Longhorns nor the Southwest Roughriders could punch the ball across the goal line.
The Longhorns fought off some tough breaks in the third quarter, including an interception, a pass interference call and an apparent Southwest fumble that was ruled dead.
Nonetheless, the defense forced some stops that set up the two lone touchdowns that gave Imperial a 14-0 win in non-district C2 action there Friday.
Weather proved to be a factor in the first half, as a constant rain fell during the first quarter and into the second.
With 6 minutes left in the second period, referees sent players to the locker rooms when lightning got too close.
That break proved beneficial for the Longhorns, Coach Dan Lenners said.
He said they were able to make some adjustments that made a difference in the game.
In fact, after the 40-minute or so break, Imperial marched from the Southwest 44 to the 5, only to come up empty due to some penalties and a dropped pass in the end zone.
Misael Garcia tried a 30-yard field goal for the Longhorns but it fell short with 1:30 left in the first half.
Southwest lost their third fumble of the game on the next possession to keep the game scoreless at half.
In the third, Imperial was hampered by penalties but got one back when Southwest returned a punt 68 yards only to have a clipping call bring it back.
Then, Southwest fumbled the ball away for the fourth time, only to get it back three plays later on an interception.
The defense came up with a big stop, forcing the Roughriders to punt as the third quarter neared an end.
That stop gave the offense some momentum. After picking up one first down, Steven Fish finally broke loose through the defense, refusing to go down.
After a 50-yard run, the last possible defender ran him out of bounds.
From the Roughrider 32, the Longhorns pounded the ball to the 6 before quarterback Alex Strand found Daniel Regier in the end zone for the game’s first score.
Garcia’s extra point kick went wide, leaving Imperial up just 6-0 with 7:15 left in the game.
The Longhorns got a big break on Southwest’s next possession when they dropped what would have been a touchdown pass.
Then, after forcing a punt, the Longhorns nearly blocked the kick and it bounced backward in the Longhorns’ favor.
The ’Horns got another break when officials waved off a flag that appeared to be for roughing the kicker.
Starting at the Southwest 32, halfback Paul Gaschler reeled of runs of 14, 6 and 7 yards to move the ball to the 5.
Three plays later, Fish went around left end, but fumbled the ball at about the 3. The ball rolled in end zone and Regier recovered it for the touchdown.
Strand hit Regier for the two-point conversion to give Imperial a 14-0 lead with just 3:01 to play.
Southwest dropped another sure touchdown pass and then Lucas Bauerle hammered their quarterback, forcing a fumble that he recovered.
With 1:44 left, the Longhorns killed the clock to preserve the win.
Game of breaks, opportunities
Lenners said he was really pleased to see how his kids fought off adversity throughout the game. “They just kept plugging away.”
And then, they took advantage of the breaks they got and/or created.
“The kids came up with some big plays when they had to,” he said. “When they got breaks, they took advantage of them.”
Offensively, the Longhorns finished with 177 yards on the ground and 20 in the air for a total of 199.
Defensively, they gave up 72 yards rushing and 27 in the air for 99 total yards.
Fish led the ground game with 73 yards while Gaschler ran for 63 yards.
Strand threw for three completions in nine attempts with Regier catching two and Fish one.
Defensively, Tanner Stromberger led the team with six solos and eight assists.
Tyler Roenfeldt finished with six solos and two assists while Strand had five solos and three assists.
Cambridge this week
Lenners said the defense got sloppy with their tackling Friday but won’t be able to get away with that this week when they play host to Cambridge.
Cambridge lost their opener to the reigning C2 champion, Blue Hill, but won big last week.
Lenners said they must stop halfback Gus Peterson. In addition they have a strong fullback and a quarterback who runs the option well.
They are definitely the best team the Longhorns have faced thus far, Lenners added.
Game time is set for 7 p.m, MT at Imperial’s sports complex.
Stats at a glance
Tackles (solos-assists)—Tanner Stromberger 6-8, Alex Strand 5-3, Tyler Roenfeldt 6-2, Dan Regier 3-3, Trevor Fuehrer 3-2, Jeremiah Lueth 3-1, Lucas Bauerle 2-2, Daniel Hogsett 1-2, Jakob Burke 2-0, Nathan Hinojosa 2-0, Misael Garcia 1-1, Paul Gaschler 1-1, Jeff Banks 1-0, Michael May 1-0, Keithan Cochran 0-1.
Rushing (attempts-yards)—Steven Fish 12-73, Paul Gaschler 17-63, Alex Strand 12-22, Jeremiah Lueth 8-18, Misael Garcia 2-1.
Receiving (attempts-completions-yards-TD-2 pt. conv.)—Daniel Regier 2-5-8-1-1 Steven Fish 1-2-12-0-0, Jakob Burke 0-1-0-0-0, Misael Garcia 0-1-0-0-0, Jeff Banks 0-1-0-0-0.
Passing (attempts-completions-yards-interceptions-TD-2 pt. conv.)—Alex Strand 10-3-20-1-1-1.
CCS: Daniel Regier 6 yd. pass, kick by Misael Garcia failed.
CCS: Regier fumble recovery in end zone, 2-pt. conversion pass to Regier.
CCS 0 0 0 14—14
Southwest 0 0 0 0 — 0