A solid defensive performance and a team-oriented rushing attack propelled the Manitowoc Lutheran football team over visiting Hilbert 14-6 in an Olympian Packerland-Small Conference game Friday night.
The Wolves gained an early lead courtesy of a 49-yard touchdown run by Brady Gruett early in the first quarter. A failed extra point kept the score at 6-0 Hilbert.
“We had worked on that play specifically, so it was disappointing that they got it,” Manitowoc Lutheran co-head coach Dave Uhlhorn said. “They ran it again later on in the game and we shut it down. It was important to me that we came back to our play and learned from our mistake.”
The Lancers (2-2, 1-0 OP-small) quickly answered on the following drive when Will Kleinert punched it in on a touchdown run from a yard out, giving Lutheran a 7-6 lead.
After forcing the Wolves to punt on the ensuing possession, the Lancers constructed a 12-play, 79-yard march which was capped by Kleinert’s second touchdown run of the night.
Lutheran held Hilbert to just one first down in the opening half.
Things were heating up for the Wolves in the second half as they began to establish a rhythm with the running game. However, the Lancers’ defense kept them from bringing it to a boil.
Hilbert ran just six plays in Lutheran territory in the final 24 minutes.
Penalties ultimately hurt the Wolves’ comeback bid. Hilbert was flagged three times in the final 10 minutes, for a total of 40 penalty yards.
Uhlhorn believes that his squad’s ability to remain calm and focused helped them secure the win down the stretch.
“They were starting to get a little momentum going in the second half,” Uhlhorn said. “They got a holding penalty, they got a couple personal fouls and we kept our cool. That was key for us because we played our game.”
The Lancers stacked up 199 rushing yards as four different tailbacks carried the ball at least 10 times, led by Seth Hillmer who rushed 13 times for 60 yards.
“If we can do that where they defense doesn’t know where the ball is coming, that just makes us a tougher team,” Uhlhorn said. “We were able to throw in some passes today to really keep them off-guard. The scoreboard doesn’t show it, but we had a really good offensive attack today.”
Ethan Hillmer finished the game 5-for-10 passing for 127 and two interceptions.
Three of Hillmer’s five completions went to Alex Thom who had 83 receiving yards on the night.