ARMSTRONG - The North Union Warriors football team tied the Estherville-Lincoln Central Midgets at 21-all with 3:10 remaining in the third quarter of a nonconference Iowa prep game on Friday night in Armstrong.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, that would be as close as they would come as the Midgets came back in the final 15 minutes to win 39-28.
"We knew coming in that they would be a good team with a slippery quarterback," North Union head coach Tommy Elliott said about Estherville-Lincoln Central's signal caller Justin Heinrichs' eight carries for 72 yards. "We thought they'd be an athletic team, and they were. They just slipped through our fingers and so did the game."
AROUND THE CORNER — North Union running back Cody Runksmeier sprints around the corner for a long gain during season-opening Iowa prep football action Friday night in Armstrong. (Photo Courtesy of David Swartz/Estherville News)
Warriors' senior quarterback Aric Runge scampered for a 1-yard score to even the game at 21-21 in the third quarter after the home team trailed for the majority of the game.
Runge's TD capped a 54-yard drive that was punctuated by a 34-yard completion to sophomore Braden Ortman along the Midgets' sideline, giving the Warriors the ball at the 1. Runge, who ran 17 times for 53 yards, then pushed through the pile to even the game.
The Midgets would not give up their lead easily, and scored on the opening play of the ensuing drive, with Heinrichs sprinting for the 20-yard score after a Billy Snyder kick return for 40 yards.
Henrichs' second of his three scores put the Midgets up 27-21 after the Warriors blocked the PAT with 2:47 left in the third quarter.
"We were in the right positions to make plays all night. On defense, we were where we needed to be to make the tackles, but we let their runners just go through our fingers," said Elliott.
The Midgets added to their lead in the fourth with Synder's 2-yard touchdown run with 2:39 remaining.
Justin Heinrichs, who completed 6 of 15 passes for 162 yards and one interception, connected with Joseph Heinrichs for a 28-yarder along the Warrior sideline to help the Midgets set up their scoring opportunity.
On the ensuing drive, Runge - who completed 8 of 12 passing attempts for 204 yards with one interception - also went to the air, sending a perfect spiral into the outstretched arms of freshman Trent Pedersen for a 36-yard strike.
"We had players going down with cramps late in the game, and it was great to see a couple of freshmen really step up when we needed them," Elliott said in reference to Pedersen's two catches for 73 yards. "Pedersen had a great catch for us when Cody Runksmeier was out, and it was awesome to see him step up."
Pedersen's TD brought the Warriors back within five, making it 33-28, but another Midget score clinched the win.
Justin Heinrichs' third TD - a 5-yard run - capped the 11-point victory for the visitors.
Warrior senior running back Cody Runksmeier carried the green-and-black offense most of the game, rushing 10 times for 91 yards, in addition to catching two passes for 20 yards. Runksmeier also added the first two North Union touchdowns, keeping them within striking distance.
The Midgets took a 7-0 lead in the opening minutes thanks to a 30-yard spiral out of the hands of Justin Heinrichs to Joseph Heinrichs, who caught seven passes for 154 yards on the game.
Runksmeier then responded for the Warriors with his first score of the game in the opening frame.
On third and 13, the Warriors went to the air with Runge finding Jacob Braddock over the middle for a 42-yard connection to give North Union the ball on the 4.
Marshall Klingenberg, who had 12 carries for 53 yards, then pounded out two yards to try and get in the end zone.
"We made our offensive tweaks this season, and I think it is really working for us," said Elliott. "We had some great plays, but we need to be able to finish plays and I think that we can work on those things and get there."
It was Runksmeier who was finally able to scamper across the goal line, racing around the outside edge to make it 7-7 with just under five minutes left in the first.
ELC then regained the lead with an 11-yard run on the feet of Snyder, who ran 19 times for 176 yards.
With 39.2 seconds left in the opening half, the Midgets increased their lead to 21-7 as Snyder scored his second of the half on a 6-yard run.
Justin Heinrichs rushed eight times for 72 yards for the Midgets, while Joseph Heinrichs and Carsten Bosch each contributed interceptions on the defensive side.
North Union (0-1) takes on Bishop Garrigan at 7 p.m. next Friday in Algona, Iowa.
NU 7 0 14 7 - 28
ELC 21 0 6 12 - 39
ELC - Joseph Heinrichs 30 pass from Justin Heinrichs (Anthony Segura kick), 9:11.
NU - Cody Runksmeier 2 run (Jonas Hoffman kick), 4:55.
ELC - Billy Snyder 11 run (Segura kick), 3:09.
ELC - Snyder 6 run (Segura kick), 39.2.
NU - Runksmeier 33 run (Hoffman kick), 8:28.
NU - Aric Runge 1 run (Hoffman kick), 3:10.
ELC - Justin Heinrichs 20 run (kick failed), 2:47.
ELC - Snyder 2 run (kick failed), 3:10.
NU - Trent Pedersen 36 pass from Runge (Hoffman kick), 2:21.
ELC - Justin Heinrichs 5 run (kick failed), 1:23.
Rushing: NU 45-221, ELC 27-248. Passing: NU 8-12-2-204; ELC 6-15-1-162. Fumbles-lost: NU 2-0; ELC 0-0. Penalties: NU 9-95; ELC 6-55.
Offense: Rushing: NU: Runksmeier 10-91, Marshall Klingenberg 12-53. ELC: Justin Heinrichs 8-72, Billy Snyder 19-176. Passing: NU: Aric Runge 8-12-1-204. ELC: Justin Heinrich 6-15-1-162. Receiving: NU: Pedersen 2-73, Runksmeier 2-20, Jacob Braddock 2-48, Shaun Cook 1-29, Braden Ortman 1-34. ELC: Joseph Heinrichs 7-154, Avery Hansen 1-8.
Defense: Intereptions: Joseph Heinrichs (ELC), Runge (NU), Carsten Bosch (ELC). QB Sacks: Chase Paulson 1 for 5.