Gaels pitch 12-0 shutout in the rain

Defense leads the charge as St. Edmond improves to 3-4

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla

Sean Flaherty of St. Edmond makes a tackle last week inside Dodger Stadium.

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Sean Flaherty of St. Edmond makes a tackle last week inside Dodger Stadium.

ARMSTRONG — Jon Borer has given his defense credit all year for keeping St. Edmond in games.

That unit rewarded Borer on Friday night, as the Gaels earned their first shutout since 2015 and snapped a two-game losing streak with a 12-0 victory over North Union.

Senior Cade Naughton had his second 100-yard rushing game of the season, and St. Edmond (3-4 overall, 3-2 in Class A, District 1) kept its slim playoff hopes alive.

“This game is for the defensive guys,” Borer said. “They won this game for us. We had to overcome a lot of things and I’m proud of our guys for that.”

Officials elected to move kickoff up to avoid another expected late rain storm in the area, which proved to be a sound move. Most of the first half was played in dry conditions before a constant mist hovered over the players with gusty winds during the final two quarters.

Along with keeping the Warriors (1-6, 0-5) out of the end zone, the Gaels also forced two turnovers, as seniors Jack Rasmussen picked off a pass and Sean Flaherty recovered a fumble.

“Coach (Tyler) Christensen) and Coach (Jacob) Short put in a couple different twists and tweaks this week and they were big for us,” Borer said. “North Union made some nice adjustments at halftime, but we countered back with nice adjustments of our own.

“I’m just really proud — as I have been all year — with our defense.”

Rasmussen, one of the top tacklers in the state, once again spearheaded several stops along with Sean Newell, Flaherty and countless others. The linebacker also appeared to have a defensive touchdown off a fumble, but officials ruled there was an inadvertent whistle and the ball was returned to North Union.

Naughton, who ran for 151 yards in a win over South O’Brien earlier this year, carried the ball 25 times for 100 yards and scored on a 1-yard TD plunge in the second quarter. Peyton Spangler, replacing the injured Charlie Shelly in the backfield, added 67 yards on 13 attempts.

“Cade is the strongest kid on our team and he showed that by carrying people with him all night,” Borer said. “These kind of conditions were perfect for a kid like Cade.

“And Peyton, holy cow, what did we miss all year with him. He is faster than we gave him credit for. He made some big plays for us with nice cuts.”

Andrew Gibb completed 5 of 8 in the first half, including a 14-yard touchdown pass to Isaac Lursen, but played on defense over the final two-plus quarters after suffering a thumb injury. Junior Elijah Litwiller replaced him under center and was 4 of 7 for 129 yards, which included a 70-yard pass to Jake Rossow.

Lursen, who had five catches for 49 yards, Rossow, Jackson Bemrich and Naughton all caught passes. Bemrich had two receptions for 52 yards.

“Elijah is a soft-spoken kid who comes to practice and works his tail off every single day,” Borer said. “He made some nice things happen for us in a tough spot. As the backup, you don’t get many reps in practice, so to come right in off the bench there in the second quarter and play well showed the kind of kid he is.”

After failing to surpass 200 yards of total offense in the past two games, St. Edmond went over that mark in the first half. They finished with 401 yards and held North Union to just 146.

Lursen now ranks second on the single-season receptions chart with 36, just two from passing Dave Conell’s record of 38 set in 1979. His 595 yards place him fifth overall, 40 away from moving ahead of Joey Flattery on that list.

Isaac Engeman led the Warriors with 70 yards rushing, with Derek Thompson adding 51. Kevin Rodriguez recorded a sack on defense.

The Gaels play their final home game of the season next Friday, hosting Sioux Central. The Rebels (5-2, 4-1) picked up a 28-21 victory over Hartley-HMS last night.

North Union is back here to play South O’Brien.

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing — St. Edmond: Cade Naughton 25-100, Peyton Spangler 13-67, Andrew Gibb 7-19, Team 2-(minus-4), Elijah Litwiller 3-(minus-6). North Union: Isaac Engeman 17-70, Derek Thompson 15-51, Jacob Bollinger 4-8, Brendan Anderson 3-6.

Passing — St. Edmond: Andrew Gibb 5-8-0-46, Elijah Litwiller 4-7-0-129. North Union: Brendan Anderson 1-6-1-11.

Receiving — St. Edmond: Jake Rossow 1-70, Jackson Bemrich 2-52, Isaac Lursen 5-49, Cade Naughton 1-4. North Union: Preston Brandenburg 1-11.

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