Laurel shuts out Glendive

By: 
CHRIS MCCONNELL
Outlook staff writer
Outlook photo by Chris McConnell. Loco running back Noah Gunther breaks free of a tackle in a recent Laurel game. The Locomotives (6-0) head to Sidney tomorrow for an Eastern A showdown against the undefeated Eagles.
Outlook photo by Chris McConnell. Loco running back Noah Gunther breaks free of a tackle in a recent Laurel game. The Locomotives (6-0) head to Sidney tomorrow for an Eastern A showdown against the undefeated Eagles.

Laurel blanked the Dawson County Red Devils at home on Friday to remain atop the Eastern A with Sidney, improving to 6-0.

Coach Mike Ludwig said “it was probably our best overall game since Miles City [Sept. 2].”

The Red Devils started their first drive on the 23 and picked up six first-downs, not seeing a third-down play until they had moved the ball 53 yards to the Laurel 24. The Loco defense stopped passes on third and fourth down.

Then the Laurel offense got called for back-to-back false starts, bringing up second-and-20 and resulting in a punt. Glendive pushed the ball 40 yards before the defense held again on the Laurel 31, getting the ball back on downs. 

Ludwig said they were a little nervous after the Red Devil start which saw them pick up 5-6 yards per play on their first two drives. 

“You never know how a game is going to go when it starts. They [Dawson County] ate up yards on those first drives. We bent but didn’t break and didn’t panic,” he said.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Locos moved the ball down to the Red Devil 15 when Gage Hull was picked off at the Glendive 3. On the next play, Ely Kraft recovered a fumble giving the Locos a first-and-goal at the 5. Ethan Renner scored on a 5-yard run and the extra point was blocked, giving Laurel the 6-0 lead at 8:10 in the second.

The next Glendive possession resulted in a punt.

After a Hull completion to Logan Kennedy got the Locos into Red Devil territory, Hull connected with Kennedy for a 38-yard TD pass. Kennedy’s kick was good and Laurel led 13-0 with 5:45 left in the half.

After getting the ball back on downs, Laurel pushed to the 13-yard line but turned the ball over after an incomplete pass on fourth-and-6 with 30 seconds in the half. Glendive had one play then the half ended. 

The Locos received the kick on their 32 yard line and took half the quarter to march 68 yards, scoring on a 5-yard Hull pass to Gaje Leischner. Kennedy’s kick was good and Laurel had the 20-0 lead.

The defense had an excellent game, stopping 5-of-6 Red Devil fourth down attempts and allowing no points.

Ludwig felt the Locos played a complete game and credited it partially to being at full strength.

“Our injured players were all back and we had some players who became academically eligible again,” he said. 

Hull was 11-22 for 154 yards with two TDs and two interceptions. Ethan Renner had 68 yards rushing and one score. Kennedy had four receptions for 87 yards and one TD. Leischner had four receptions for 35 yards and a TD.

Tomorrow night is the game of the year, thus far, in the Eastern A when Laurel travels to Sidney for a battle between undefeated teams.

Ludwig said, “Sidney has big linemen and a big fullback and tailback. Our goals are to establish the run on offense and stop their rush on defense.”

He said the Eagles prefer to run the ball and remembered an article he read that said they had 22 straight run plays before their first pass against Billings Central.

“They just smash it up the middle,” Ludwig said.

The team’s goals in practice this week are to continue to work on consistency.

“I told them [Tuesday] I was happy and proud of them; they played hard as a team [last week]. Now we need to continue to progress and have fewer mistakes.”

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