By TED RADICK
NAPOLEON — Leipsic football coach Joe Kirkendall knows that sometimes there’s room for finesse, and other times where pure power gets the job done.
Kirkendall’s Vikings used the power game Saturday, overwhelming Edgerton 39-6 in a Division VII, Region 26 semifinal at Napoleon High School.
Leipsic (12-1) will face Patrick Henry (10-3), a 42-14 winner Saturday over Norwalk St. Paul in another Region 26 semi, at 7 p.m. Saturday at a site to be determined. Edgerton ended its season at 9-3.
Leipsic pounded its way to 308 yards on the ground, held Edgerton’s vaunted running game in check and utterly dominated the Bulldogs, rolling to leads of 26-0 at halftime and 32-0 early in the third quarter.
The Vikings’ defense set the tone, forcing a three-and-out on Edgerton’s first possession and never letting the Bulldogs gain any type of consistent ball movement.
“Defensively, we were lights out from the word ‘go,'” Kirkendall said. “It was tremendous.”
Edgerton’s Hunter Prince came in with 1,837 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns on the ground. On Saturday, he ran 16 times for 52 yards.
“We’ve been pretty good defensively, and the strength of our defense, I think, is our defensive ends and our edge guys,” Kirkendall said. “Their scheme wanted to attack them, and let’s face it, Juan Pena is a pretty good football player.
“Our other ends, Evan Schroeder and Lorenzo Martinez, played really well. Grant Steingass, inside, chasing things down, was tremendous. Our secondary didn’t get fooled by play action. We tackled in space.
“We told the guys all week that if they tackled, we had a great chance to win.”
Edgerton finished with a mere six first downs and 84 yards on the ground on 31 carries. The Bulldogs did get a 47-yard TD pass from Jaron Cape to Colin Gary in the third quarter, but all that did was temporarily put a halt to a running clock.
Leipsic’s offense, meanwhile, clicked from its opening drive. The Vikings marched 57 yards in nine plays as Pena scored on a 6-yard run.
“That was huge. Huge,” Kirkendall said of the early touchdown. “To put that pressure on them, then get great kickoff coverage right after that to get them pinned back. They got a long run, but they still had a long way to go.”
Leipsic forced a turnover on downs on the second Edgerton drive, and again cashed in. Drew Liffick ended an eight-play, 50-yard drive with a 23-yard TD pass to Fabian Pena.
Leipsic’s third drive also found the end zone. Lorenzo Walther took a simple dive off right guard, broke a tackle just beyond the line of scrimmage and raced into the end zone with a 70-yard touchdown run.
Walther, who added a 9-yard scoring run in the third quarter, had 146 yards on 19 carries. Juan Pena, who added Leipsic’s final touchdown with a 35-yard run early in the fourth, had 108 yards on 15 carries. Fabian Pena added 37 rushing yards.
“Lorenzo Walther has accepted the challenge of being a feature guy now that Cole Williamson is out,” Kirkendall said. “Fabian has taken more carries to pick up the slack. Juan came to us after Cole went down and said ‘use me as a blocker. Let me create space.’ But when you give it to him, he still makes his plays.”
Too many plays for Edgerton, as Bulldogs coach Ben Wilhelm said.
“We had a lot of problems executing in a lot of phases tonight. We were making mistakes all over the place,” Wilmelm said. “We made a lot of mistakes, and Leipsic is too good a team to do that against. That’s pretty much it.”
Wilhelm said Leipsic’s defensive line simply manhandled Edgerton’s offensive line.
“We weren’t winning battles up front, and we knew coming in we would have to do that,” he said. “The game was going to be won or lost on the line of scrimmage, and it definitely was. We just weren’t able to get good movement up front.”
Edgerton 0 0 6 0 — 6
Leipsic 14 12 6 7 — 39
LEIP — J. Pena 6 run (kick failed)
LEIP — F. Pena 23 pass from D. Liffick (B. Liffick pass from D. Liffick)
LEIP — Walther 70 run (kick failed)
LEIP — F. Pena 2 run (pass failed)
LEIP — Walther 9 run (kick failed)
EDGE — Gary 47 pass from Cape (run failed)
LEIP — J. Pena 35 run (J. Pena kick)
First Downs 8 16
Rushes-yards 31-84 47-308
Passing Yards 144 32
Comp-Att-Int 10-14-2 2-6-0
Punts-Avg. 3-29.3 1-39.0
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 0-0
Penalties-Yards 10-124 3-16
rushing — Edgerton, Prince 16-52, Ripke 5-38, Canales 4-14, Showalter 1-2, Cape 4-(-23). Leipsic, Walther 19-146, J. Pena 15-108, F. Pena 8-37, Hernandez 3-11, Turner 2-6.
passing — Edgerton, Cape 10-14-2-144. Leipsic, D. Liffick 2-6-0-32.
receiving — Edgerton, Gary 3-61, Showalter 2-40, Ripke 2-19, Canales 2-17, Prince 1-7. Leipsic, F. Pena 1-23, Lammers 1-9.
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