Mankato East’s defense pushed the Falcons’ offense to the limits, forcing seven turnovers and resulting in a 43-12 Big Southeast District win over Faribault Friday before a large homecoming gathering at Bruce Smith Field.
“We made some stops and showed a lot of heart. But when you’re just out there that much, the offense will take advantage of its opportunities,” said Faribault head coach Ned Louis. “We couldn’t slow them in the second half. We were moving the ball in the first half and kept their offense off the field. That was the big difference. We just have to play four quarters.”
With the loss, the Falcons dropped to 1-5 overall and 1-3 in the district. Mankato East improved to 4-2 overall and 3-2 in district play.
Mankato East jumped on the board first, pulling ahead 7-0 on a 20-yard touchdown run by senior Carter Dahl. A few minutes later, sophomore quarterback Jacob Eggert threw his first of three touchdowns of the night, connecting with senior Jax Madson for a 12-yard touchdown.
After the ensuing kickoff, Faribault — which stayed close all half — turned the engines on. The Falcons drove the field in 1:54 en route to a scoring opportunity for junior Taylor Day, who fought through a couple of defenders and extended his arms past the goal line for his first touchdown of the night.
The defense kept Faribault in the game throughout the next quarter, and the offense took advantage. With 4:06 remaining in the half, Nick Ehlers connected with Day for a 35-yard touchdown — his second score of the night.
Faribault went into the break with 12 unanswered points, cutting the deficit to 14-12.
“We got down 14-0 in the blink of an eye and then our kids really started to play,” Louis said. “Our defense stood up and made some great stops. Then the offense got it going and made a game of it heading into the locker room.”
Unfortunately for Faribault, 12 would be all they would get. The second half belonged to Mankato East, which took advantage of a plethora of turnovers en route to a 28-0 second half for the Cougars.
“We just have to be more consistent. We can compete with good teams if we play four quarters and limit mistakes. When we do that, we can be a good football team,” said Louis. “I know we’re young, and maybe that’s just part of being young. We have two left and then the playoffs. We just have to keep plugging away.”
Cougars quarterback Eggert finished 5-of-5 for 100 yards and three touchdowns. Leslie Miller spearheaded the rushing attack with 132 yards and one touchdown on 10 carries.
“Miller’s a good player. They create some mismatches on the outside at times with their option. They have some good receivers as well,” said Louis. “They’re tough to defend. In the first half, we did an excellent job of it but our defense was just out on the field way too long tonight with our turnovers.”
Louis said he didn’t think the turnovers were mental, but from the excitement that comes with homecoming.
“We were overthrowing guys. It was part of being homecoming and being excited to play. Mankato East took advantage of that. Two young quarterbacks in Nick and Hunter, they have great upside and they have to forget about this one and move onto the next.”
Day, a junior, finished with 63 yards and one touchdown on 18 carries. Junior Alex Gardner chipped in with 37 yards on 7 carries.
The Falcons look to bounce back Friday at Rochester John Marshall.
Mankato East 43, Faribault 12
ME — 14 0 21 8
F — 6 6
F offensive statistics — Passing: Grant McBroom 3-14, 43 yards, 1 TD, 4 INT ... Rushing: Taylor Day 18-63, 1 TD; Alex Gardner 7-37; Cael Casteel 2-6, Ehlers 5-2 … Receiving: Day 1-35, 1 TD; Carter Breitenfeldt 1-16; Nick Flom 2-16; Dylan Lipper 1-8
F defensive statistics — Tackles: J Flom 8; Ehlers 6; Bryce Nolen 5; Lippert 5; Owen Ellendson 5; Evan Larson 3.5; Breitenfeldt 3.5; N Flom 3; Devin Lockerby 2; John Palmer 1.5; Langer 1.5; Casteel 1; Cade McCusker 1; Zach Slinger 1; Thor Keilen 1; Isaac Mata 0.5; Gael Ramirez 0.5; Adam Paschke 0.5; Alex Leet 0.5; Timothy Neirby 0.5
F special teams — Punting: Nolen 4-95; Nelson 1-34 … Kick returns: Gardner 3-47; Mata 2-12 … Punt returns: Mata 2-19
ME offensive statistics — Passing: Jacob Eggert 5-5, 100 yards, 3 TD; Jared Grams 2-5, 18 yards ... Rushing: Leslie Miller 10-132, 1 TD; Carter Dahl 11-61 1 TD; Diego Reyes 5-24; Ethan Sundermeyer 7-20; Gus Gartzke 2-18; Grams 5-16; Eggert 3-8 … Receiving: Grant Hermer 2-43, 2 TD; Joich Gong 1-32; Jax Madson 2-24, 1 TD; Dahl 1-13; Jared Miller 1-6
ME defensive statistics — Tackles: Kolin Baier 8.5; Zak Glade 5.5; Riley Fleming 4.5; Isaac Turner 3; Dalton Dodge 2.5; Nick Remker 2.5; Jared Miller 2.5; Dahl 2; Owen Atherton 2; Jaden Froelich 2; Hermer 1.5; Grams 1; Ian Smetana 0.5; Ethan Benzkofer 0.5
ME special teams — Kicking: Muse Abdi 5-5 XP … Punting: Madson 4-129 … Punt Returns: Hermer 1-4 … Kickoff return: Sundermeyer 2-43