Dutchmen gridiron season ended at Eldon

Will Johnson

ELDON — A rematch with a district championship on the line.

That was the case Friday night at Eldon’s Victor Field between Dale Long’s Owensville Dutchmen and the host Mustangs.

Playing for the MSHSAA Class 3, District 3 football championship, both turned a football game into yet another track meet.

Combining for 141 points in their previous meeting back in week two of the regular season, both the Dutchmen and Mustangs lit up the scoreboard for 123 more points.

“This was a great game to be involved in,” Eldon head football coach Shannon Jolley said.

Unfortunately for Owensville fans, Eldon came away with a 70-53 victory ending Dutchmen football’s season at 8-4.

“Our kids had a great season this year,” Long said. “It just didn’t go as well as we wanted it to last night.”

Winning the opening coin toss, Owensville deferred to the second half giving Eldon the football to start the game.

That decision nearly backfired.

Three plays into Eldon’s first drive, Dutchmen senior Sean Irwin recovered a fumble at the OHS 16-yard line with 10:43 for the opening quarter.

Mixing up the run and pass, Owensville broke the scoreless tie from Victor Field going 84 yards in 12 plays.

Dutchmen senior quarterback Wyatt Ellis capped the drive with a 12-yard touchdown run with 6:35 for the first quarter. River-West Derby’s missed extra point left Owensville with a 6-0 lead.

Before fans could blink, Eldon answered OHS’ opening score.

Mustang senior Isaiah Merida scored from 38 yards out knotting the game at 6-6 with 5:12 left in the quarter. Isaiah Parson’s two-point run gave Eldon an 8-6 lead.

Unable to overcome an offensive pass interference penalty, Owensville was forced to punt back to Eldon near the end of the first quarter.

Nearing the end of the first quarter, the Mustangs added to their lead on a 32-yard TD pass from Dawson Brandt to Austin Pipes. Brandt’s two-point run gave Eldon a 16-6 lead after 12 minutes.

Chewing up the first three minutes of the second quarter, the Dutchmen found the end zone.

Faced with a third-and-goal from the Eldon nine, OHS senior running back Tanner Rector scored from nine yards out with 8:51 left in the first half. Ellis’ two-point run pulled the Dutchmen back within two at 16-14.

Five plays and barely a minute later, Eldon scored again on a 33-yard TD run from Brandt. His two-point run gave the Mustangs their 10-point lead back at 24-14 with 7:29 until halftime.

Helped by a Rector run of 42 yards on Owensville’s next drive, Ellis went to the air finding Sean Irwin on a 27-yard TD pass. Rector’s two-point run cut Eldon’s lead to 24-22 with 6:29 for the half

Six plays and 59 yards later, the Mustangs scored again on a Parsons 1-yard TD run. Brandt’s latest two-point run put Eldon back up by double digits, 32-22.

Staying in the air, Ellis found Grant Steever on a 19-yard pass to convert a third-and-10. On the next play, Ellis connected with Irwin on a 57-yard TD strike. After the missed two-point conversion, Owensville trailed the Mustangs 32-28 with 2:42 until halftime. Irwin finished with 10 catches for 175 yards receiving and a pair of touchdowns.

Just over a minute later, Merida found the end zone from six yards away, OHS stopped Eldon’s latest two-point attempt leaving the score at 38-28 with 1:24 for the half.

Driving down to Eldon’s 19-yard line, the Dutchmen brought on senior Aaron Budnik to attempt his first field goal of the season.

Kicking the ball through the uprights from 36 yards away, Owensville went into halftime trailing the Mustangs, 38-31.

Opening the second half with the football, OHS took full advantage.

Converting three third downs, Ellis turned a third-and-four into a 12-yard TD run at the 8:39 mark of the third quarter. Rector’s two-point run gave the Dutchmen a 39-38 lead early in the third.

Just over two minutes later, Owensville found themselves trailing again.

Merida scored from 41 yards away. His two-point run put Eldon back on top 46-39 with 6:37 for the third quarter.

Chewing up nearly six minutes of clock, the Dutchmen chalked up three fourth-down conversions.

On fourth-and-goal from the five, Colton Moore hauled in a 5-yard TD pass from Ellis with 45.9 for the quarter. The ensuing missed two-point conversion left OHS trailing 46-45.

Eldon quickly took back the momentum on the ensuing kickoff.

Trenton Dillon returned it 85 yards for a touchdown. Merida’s two-point run put the Mustangs ahead for good 54-45 late in the third quarter.

Rushing touchdowns by Clayton Moore and Merida gave Eldon their final point total with 4:54 left.

Owensville scored their final touchdown on a 19-yard pass play from Ellis to Steever, Ellis found Cason Gray for the ensuing two-point conversion with 4:10 left. Wyatt finished the game throwing for 439 yards on 39-62 passing with four touchdowns and an interception. Ellis also rushed for 101 yards on 15 carries and two scores on the ground.

“When you play against teams with someone special like Wyatt Ellis, you have to bring your best stuff,” Jolley said. “Coach (Dale) Long has done a great job with this team all year long.”

Final defensive statistics from Eldon were not available by press time.