(Photos by Michael Fischer)
Spencer would lose three more fumbles in the first half, two inside the E-Hawks' 10-yard-line, and throw an interception. The Tigers also couldn't slow down Wellik, who carried 13 times for 182 yards in the first half, as the E-Hawks built a 32-0 lead at half time.
"I was upset with how we protected the ball in the first half," Spencer coach Jim Tighe said. "And we weren't very physical. On defense, we were catching not tackling. We got exposed in some pretty serious areas. We competed better in the second half, and we'll bounce back."
After the miscue on the first play and an early 7-0 deficit, the Tigers marched down the field on an 11-play, 59-yard drive to the E-Hawk 7-yard line before fumbling again, halting the drive. Wellik would break off runs of 16 and 51 before Austin McCartan scored on a 4-yard run to make it 14-0.
Spencer's following possession ended with a punt, which lead to Wellik's second touchdown run, a 20-yarder around the edge to make it 20-0 in the first quarter. Spencer's third first-half fumble came on the next drive, which was recovered at midfield and led to McCartan's second TD run, a 14-yard scamper.
The first six possessions of the season for the Tigers resulted in four lost fumbles, an interception and a punt, which led to Emmetsburg commanding the game with a 32-0 lead.
Despite the deficit, Spencer drove the ball deep in E-Hawk territory before the half, but fumbled once again, this time at the 1-yard line. A few of the fumbles came on the pitch from quarterback Matthew Finnern to the running back.
"We haven't been dropping the pitches in practice," Tighe said. "Of course, the speed of the game is faster but we have to make that pitch work. We'll get it figured out."
Spencer scored on its next possession as well, a 3-yard run by Finnern to cap a 9-play, 52-yard drive to make the score 32-14.
The Tigers committed a few miscues on Emmetsburg's next drive, including the kickoff going out of bounds, a late hit penalty and a pass interference call that helped the E-Hawks move down and score again, a 1-yard touchdown run by Wellik, his third of the game. The 200-pound running back finished the game with 24 carries for 260 yards.
"He's a good back," Tighe said. "We also weren't helping ourselves much, we were letting him get the edge."
Allen Jensen would score Emmetsburg's final touchdown, an 11-yard run, following Finnern's second interception. Spencer got into scoring position late in the fourth after a 30-yard punt return by Hunter Cushman, which was followed by a horsecollar penalty. Brady Illg carried the ball for the final score of the game, a 34-yard run.
Finnern led the Tigers in offense, carrying the ball 21 times for 128 yards and a touchdown. He was 1-of-6 for 12 yards passing the ball. Altenhofen gained 78 yards on five carries, including the 60-yard touchdown. Illg finished with 63 yards on five carries, and Cody Mowery added 25 yards on four carries.
Spencer gained 344 rushing yards but were devastated by the six turnovers to the 1A powerhouse.
"We did some good things offensively but we've got to get some things fixed defensively. They're a good quality opponent and we stuck together pretty good, but we've can't turn the ball over and have to be more physical," Tighe said.
The Tigers will travel to Sheldon next Friday for another non-district game, which begins at 7 p.m.
M. Finnern 21-128, 1 TD
B. Altenhofen 5-78, 1 TD
B. Illg 5-63, 1 TD
A. Lauck 9-35
A. Wellik 24-260, 3 TDs
C. Henderson 9-42
McCartan 6-40, 2 TDs
A. Jensen 8-26, 1 TD
Finnern, Spencer: 1-6, 12 yds., 2 INT
J. Jackson, E'Burg: 3-6, 67 yds, 1 TD
Huisinga, Spencer: 1-12
N. Schany, E'Brug: 2-59, 1 TD