Football: Spencer handles Algona, 37-20
Spencer took care of business in its second-to-last regular season game, a 3A non-district tilt in Algona Friday night, winning 37-20. The Tigers got long runs, big special teams plays and stout defense to improve to 5-3 overall. They face No. 2 Bishop Heelan next week.
The Tigers got out quickly as Matt Finnern capped a 13-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown for a 7-0 lead. Spencer's next score came on a 68-yard touchdown run by Austin Lauck, his longest of the season, for a 14-0 lead.
Algona would move the ball down for a score after being helped by a roughing-the-punter call on Spencer that extended the drive. Mitchell Erpelding made it 14-7 after a 1-yard touchdown run for the Bulldogs.
Finnern added his second touchdown just before the half, another from one yard out, for a 21-7 advantage going to halftime.
"We took control of the game and were more physical," Spencer coach Jim Tighe said. "The defense played very well. There were a couple plays where we were our own worst enemy, with a defensive holding and rouging the kicker, but they played well."
Spencer's defense held Algona to just 185 total yards in the game.
Spencer's special teams got in on the scoring in the third quarter when Pierce Jensen blocked an Algona punt out the back of the endzone for a safety. The defense got in on the action on the next series as Hunter Cushman intercepted a Weston Shaw pass and returned it 35 yards for the score.
It was Cushman's third interception in the last two games, and second returned for a touchdown. The pick-6 pushed the score to 30-7, Tigers.
Shaw connected with Erpelding for a passing touchdown in the fourth quarter before Finnern would score his third touchdown of the game, and 15th on the year, to make the score 37-14.
Algona added a final touchdown, a 9-yard rush by Sawyer Frideres, as time expired for the 37-20 final.
Lauck led Spencer in rushing with 118 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown. Finnern gained 76 yards on 17 carries and three touchdowns. Brady Illg added 30 yards on five rushes. Finnern was 1-of-3 passing for 18 yards. Spencer lost two fumbles in the game.
Erpelding led Algona in rushing with 50 yards on 14 carries. Shaw was 5-of-17 passing for 68 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Up next for Spencer is undefeated Heelan, who dominated the Tigers last year's game also played in Sioux City, 48-7. With a playoff spot wrapped up, the Tigers will be playing for pride and confidence as they enter the postseason.
"We've got to show up. We were disappointed with how we approached the game mentally last year. We've got to go over expecting to win the game, even though they're going to hear they don't have a chance," Tighe said.