A defensive touchdown got the scoring going for Waterville-Elysian-Morristown. Then the offense took it from there.

A Matt Van Houdt 23-yard interception gave the visiting WEM Buccaneers (2-2) a 7-0 halftime lead. WEM produced most of its 245 yards of offense in the second half to pull away from the host St. Clair/Mankato Loyola Spartans (2-2) by a 21-0 final.

It’s the Bucs’ third shutout of an opponent in their last 12 games going back to 2018. The Spartans netted just 104 yards of offense after much bigger outputs in recent wins over Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity and Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton.

“Our defense did a great job tonight,” said WEM coach Mike Richards. “They were trying to do that read option and trying to pass out of twins. We did a good job pursuing and getting good angles on the quarterback. We did a good job of stepping in the alleways and allowing no clean runs.”

Both defenses went toe for toe in the first half as SC/ML’s big bodies in the trenches disrupted the WEM offensive line.

Each team turned the ball over twice in the half, though neither offense capitalized on short fields.

The Bucs went for more of a power game in the second half and it paid off for Brant Melchert. Most of his 132 yards on 18 carries came in the second half. A 55-yard rush highlighted his day. It was part of a drive featuring a 20-yard pass from Grant McBroom to Dylan Androli and subsequently a McBroom 1-yard touchdown sneak in the third quarter.

The Bucs put the game away their next time with the ball on a 59-yard drive. Jason Bauer caught his first varsity touchdown on a 24-yard strike with 5:51 left in the game.

Along with Van Houdt’s huge play, Richards credited Zach Sticken and Nick LeMieux for their play in the secondary.

WEM hosts Cleveland (0-4) 7 p.m. Friday on homecoming night. The Clippers are coming off a 20-7 loss vs. Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton. Three of their four losses have been one- or two-possession games.

Waterville-Elysian-Morristown 21, St. Clair/Mankato Loyola 0

W —7 0 6 8

S — 0 0 0 0

WEM offensive statistics — Passing: Grant McBroom 4-8, 51 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT … Rushing: Brant Melchert 18-132; McBroom 11-26, TD; Domanik Paulson 1-15; Nolan Wetzel 5-14; Ethan Muellerleille 2-4; Griffin Atherton 1-2; Jonathan Remme 1-1 … Receiving: Jason Bauer 1-21, TD; Dylan Androli 1-20; Wetzel 1-10

WEM defensive statistics — Tackles: Melchert 7.5; Wetzel 6.5; Theo Miska 6; Androli, Travis Van Houdt 4.5; Atherton 3.5; M. Van Houdt 2.5; McBroom, Carter Pavek 1.5; Zach Sticken, Nick LeMieux, Kurtis Crosby, Austin Henson 1 … Tackles for loss: Melchert 6; Wetzel 3; T. Van Houdt 2; Pavek 1 … Interceptions: M. Van Houdt 1 (TD) … Sacks: Melchert 2; Wetzel, T. Van Houdt, Pavek 1

WEM special teams … Kicking: Melchert 1-1 XP … Punting: Paulson 3-124 … Kick return: Tyler Brekke 1-8

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