Tigers jump out early, never trail in 48-19 win, face Heelan again in 2nd round
The Tigers took all the momentum from their big win over Heelan Friday night and carried it into Wednesday's first-round game at ADM in Adel to win on the road for the second consecutive year.
Spencer was up 20-0 before ADM knew what hit them as the Tigers dominated the game throughout four quarters to advance with a 48-19 win. It was the most points the Tigers have scored in a game all year.
Spencer advances in the 3A playoffs for the second year in a row, with both first-round wins coming on the road and over three hours away.
"We take a lot of pride in playing well on the road," Spencer coach Jim Tighe said in an interview after the game.
After knocking off Heelan less than a week ago, 21-14, the Tigers will now head back to Memorial Field in Sioux City on Monday to face the Crusaders, who pulled away from Creston to win 47-20.
Spencer got a balanced rushing attack that gained 440 yards on the night, and forced four ADM turnovers (a fumble and three interceptions) in the win. The Tiger defense also turned ADM over twice on downs in the first half.
The Tigers overmatched ADM from the first series, forcing a 3-and-out by ADM and needing just three plays to take a 7-0 lead, on an 11-yard touchdown run by Matt Finnern.
"We told the guys we've got to come out fast," Tighe said. "We always want to play fast but it hasn't always happened. We really wanted to get after it, and the defense had a great first possession giving us great field position."
ADM punted on its second possession, which led to another scoring drive by Spencer, a 10-play sequence led by Finnern, Austin Lauck and Blake Altenhofen on the ground. Finnern punched in his second score from three yards out for a 14-0 lead.
ADM, whose mascot is also the Tigers, was stopped on downs on its next possession, which led to a Finnern 63-yard touchdown run on Spencer's first play after taking over the ball. The junior quarterback had over 100 yards and three rushing touchdowns before the first quarter ended.
"The offensive line is doing a great job of creating seams," Tighe said. "They've been doing a great job, we were able to get to the outside seams tonight. There's a lot of parts in motion and different reads to make. The goal is to get all the parts going at the same time."
Perhaps the only defensive miscue for Spencer came on ADM's first play on the ensuing drive. Running back Jordan Grove scampered 80 yards to get ADM on the board as the first quarter ended with Spencer leading 20-6.
Following the ADM score, Finnern was intercepted, giving ADM the ball in Spencer territory. Once again, the Tiger defense buckled down and stopped a 4th-and-2 attempt at the 10-yard-line.
Spencer took over on its own 9-yard-line and proceeded to march down the field 91 yards on 15 plays to score with a Brady Illg 10-yard run. The Tigers used nearly seven minutes of clock as they tallied five first downs on the drive to lead, 27-6.
ADM continued to struggle against the Tiger defense as they fumbled on their second play after the score with Lauck falling on it for Spencer. Lauck would carry the ball five times as Spencer attempted to use the rest of the second-quarter clock and get into field-goal range. With five seconds left in the half, Mark Malm attempted a 40-yard field goal, which sailed wide.
The second half featured three interceptions by Spencer defensive backs of ADM quarterback Kyle Herrick. Malik Rasch intercepted his third pass in the last two games on ADM's first second-half possession. Hunter Cushman snagged his seventh of the season in the fourth quarter. Trey Hookfin scored Spencer's final touchdown with a 38-yard interception return with four minutes remaining.
Altenhofen scored on a 21-yard run and Lauck on a 40-yard run in the second half as the Spencer ground attack ran roughshod over ADM's defense. Grove scored on a 3-yard run in the third quarter to make it 34-13, and Isaac Norton scored a rushing touchdown as time dwindled in the fourth.
Finnern led with 170 yards and three touchdowns, while Lauck rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown. It's the second week in a row both players have gained over 100 yards rushing.
Altenhofen gained 58 on the ground with a score, Illg rushed for 50 yards and a score, and Cushman added 31 yards. Cody Mowery also added 30 yards rushing in the balanced attack. Finnern threw twice -- was intercepted once and completed a 6-yard pass.
Now focus turns back to Heelan, who the Tigers must face twice in 11 days. Considered a major upset across the state last Friday, Spencer (7-3) must beat Heelan again if its season is to continue.
"Beating them on the field twice will be a tremendous challenge but it's exciting to take on those types of challenges," Tighe said. "A lot of people thought it was kind of a fluky thing last week so the kids have a chip on their shoulder to go and do it again."
The second-round game will be a 7 p.m. kickoff at Memorial Field in Sioux City on Monday, Oct. 29.