(Photos by Michael Fischer)
"It means everything," Spencer coach Jim Tighe said. "Last year we were always playing from behind in the standings. It's nice to get out to a 1-0 start. It wasn't always pretty, we've got to hold on to the ball better."
Spencer received the opening kick and went to work on Storm Lake, marching 67 yards in nine plays, capped by a 4-yard touchdown run by QB Matt Finnern. Austin Lauck gained 36 yards on the opening drive. Spencer allowed one first down before forcing a Storm Lake punt and starting another touchdown series.
The score remained 14-0 at halftime as Spencer's defense held after a blocked punt and lost fumble in the second quarter.
On the wildest play of the game, Storm Lake QB Nic Seaman threw a fade route to the corner of the endzone and was intercepted by Spencer's Hunter Cushman. Cushman took the ball from five yards deep and sprinted down the sidelines 60 yards before being caught and stripped by Aaron Krier, who regained possession near midfield for Storm Lake. The Spencer defense would force a turnover on downs following the play.
Lauck would get the Tigers on the board on the first possession of the second half with a 43-yard touchdown run, his first of the season. Up 21-0, Cushman would fumble a punt return, which led to Storm Lake's first score on Spencer since 2010, a 12-yard run by Krier. Spencer beat Storm Lake 30-0 last year.
The Tigers answered Storm Lake with a 60-yard drive which featured 26 yards from Brady Illg, including a 1-yard TD run to make it 28-7. Spencer would give up a 78-yard scoring drive and lose a fumble in the redzone to start the fourth quarter. However, deep in Storm Lake territory, Chance Steward would sack Seaman for a safety, which also set up the Tigers' final scoring drive. Cushman ran for 18 yards to get in position for a 2-yard score and a 36-13 final.
Five different Tigers scored touchdowns, and for the second straight game, two Tigers gained over 100 yards rushing.
"We've got some great leadership on this team and they play well together," Tighe said. "These guys just want to win football games. They don't care about stats or anything like that."
Lauck led Spencer with 139 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown, followed by Finnern with 105 yards on 13 carries and a TD, his sixth of the year. Finnern was 0-of-2 passing. Brady Illg gained 50 yards along with Altenhofen's 30 and Cushman's 29, all three scored touchdowns.
Storm Lake went to the pass after not finding much success on the ground against the Spencer defense. Krier led the Tornadoes with 55 rushing yards on 17 carries. Seaman threw 20 times and completed 10 passes for 137 yards. Four went to TE Ethan Kenkel for 61 yards and three to Luke Lenhart for 34 yards. Storm Lake gained 105 yards on the ground on 34 attempts and scored both touchdowns rushing.
Spencer will continue district play next week when Sergeant Bluff-Luton comes to town for the third home game in the first month of the season for the Tigers. They will play their four of their last five games on the road.
SPENCER: Austin Lauck 17-139, TD. Matt Finnern 13-105, TD. Brady Illg 10-50, TD. Blake Altenhoen 2-30. Hunter Cushman 4-29, TD. Cody Mowery 1-11, TD. Austin Fox 1-6. (Team: 48-370, 5 TDs)
STORM LAKE: Aaron Krier 17-55, TD. Nic Seaman 10-20, TD. Brian Thepavong 5-24. Chase Lange 2-6. (Team: 34-105, 2 TDs)