There’s an old adage about rivalry games in sports: “You can toss the records out in a rivalry game.”
Tonight’s addition of Ell-Saline and Sacred Heart lived up to that adage perfectly.
The two teams couldn’t have been more different. Sacred Heart coming in on a six-game skid. Ell-Saline meanwhile, was unblemished.
Yet, the two rivals put together a game for the ages, with Ell-Saline sneaking out with a 28-21 win.
After a scoreless first period, Sacred Heart got the scoring going in the second stanza, with three Jacob Faerber TDs. The first two were runs of 30 and 16-yards to give the Knights a 14-0 lead with a little more than three minutes before halftime.
However, Ell-Saline would get their act together just before the half, putting together a drive–in to a strong south wind–and scoring on a Sawyer Kramer seven-yard run to make it 14-7, Knights with just 43-ticks on the first half clock.
Sacred Heart had the answer. On the ensuing kickoff, Faerber picked up the kickoff at the 17 and scampered 83-yards to the house to give the Knights a 21-7 lead at halftime.
The halftime disadvantage was the second in-a-row for Ell-Saline. However, the Cardinals would not panic.
Led by junior quarterback, Nick Davenport, the Cards looked like a different team offensively to start the third quarter, marching the ball inside of the Sacred Heart 40. However, the Knights would hold the Cardinals on 4th down to get the ball at their own 31.
Sacred Heart held the ball for just one play though, because the Knights would cough it up and give it right back to Ell-Saline midway through the third.
Ell-Saline and Davenport wouldn’t disappoint this time. Starting out at the Sacred Heart 31, Ell-Saline moved the ball down the field and scored on a seven-yard Davenport TD run. However, the Cards would miss the PAT. It was Sacred Heart leading 21-13 with 7:28 to go in the third.
Sacred Heart’s offense couldn’t get anything going against the wind in the third. Ell-Saline, with good field position all period, cashed in with a Davenport to Brody Ditto eight-yard TD pass to pull within two. Ell-Saline tacked on the two-point conversion and the game was knotted up at 21 with 1:00 left in the third.
The game would stay that way, even after Sacred Heart drove the ball down inside of the 10 of Ell-Saline. However, penalties–Sacred Heart had 14 of them on the night–wiped out another Faerber TD, so Sacred Heart settled for a 32-yard FG by Charlie Skidmore. Skidmore would miss just wide-left.
Ell-Saline got the ball in a tie game with a little more than four minutes to play. Davenport ran the ball down the throats of Sacred Heart on a time consuming drive that was capped off by a Davenport 11-yard TD run to give Ell-Saline their first lead with 1:48 to go.
Sacred Heart would have one last gasp. The Knights moved the ball inside of the Ell-Saline 20 in the final minute, however, David Anderson was sacked by Ell-Saline which sealed the deal as the Knights were out of timeouts.
The 28-21 win kept Ell-Saline’s (7-0, 2-0 district) perfect season alive, as well as clinched a playoff berth coupled with a Smith Center win over Republic County.
Meanwhile, Sacred Heart (1-7, 0-2 district) has been eliminated from playoff contention.
Ell-Saline will host Smith Center next week for the district championship heard on Real Country 101.7. Sacred Heart finishes up the year at winless Republic County on FM 104.9. Both games will start at 7 p.m. next Friday.