Week 2: Aquin vs MCP
Aquin makes quick work of state ranked Milford-Cissna Park to move to 2-0
Freeport - Taking the field at historic Conley Field for the first time since April 9th, there was a new look to the field dimensions. As Aquin transitioned into 8-man football this year the grass at Conley Field was 13 yards narrower as 8-man is played on a 100 yard by 40 yard field instead of the conventional 100 yard by 53.3 yard field. That didn't stop the electricity and excitement we are used to seeing out of the Bulldog faithful as they saw their 5th ranked Dawgs play host to the 10th ranked MCP Bearcats. The Bearcats have been in each of the I8FA state championship games, winning in 2018 and getting the runner-up to NUIC foe Polo in 2019.
The game started off with an element of surprise, as MCP kicked off to start the game. Coming out with an onside kick caught the Dawgs off balance, as the Bearcats recovered the kick at their own 45 yard line. The drive didn't last long, however, as the Bearcats only went 1 yard in 3 plays to force a punt.
Starting out with Evan Broge at QB, Aquin took to the ground as Clay Luedeking carried the ball for 24 yards on his first 2 carries of the game. Broge would add 12 yards on the ground before he would connect with Luedeking on a 53 yard TD pass that put Aquin up 6-0 with 7:35 remaining in the 1st quarter.
On the very next Bearcat series Angel Salinas, who is normally the running back but due to COVID protocol was moved to QB for the game, took a QB keeper for a 20 yard rush. Trying to get Sam Kaeb involved on motion end arounds proved to be tough for the Bearcats as the Bulldogs shut that down for the majority of the game. Getting to the Aquin 44 yard line didn't last long as a botched snap was picked up by Salinas, but then he would fumble it as Ollie Arndt would fall on it at the Bearcat 24 yard line.
Aquin would take 3 minutes to drive the 24 yards, but Broge would punch it in from 4 yards out to give the Bulldogs a 12-0 lead they would take into the 2nd quarter.
After an exchange of possessions, the Bearcats would start their 4th possession at their own 45 yard line. On the 2nd play Salinas was unable to control the snap again, and this time it was Mason McIntyre jumping on the ball at the Bearcat 48 yard line. With Wolfe moved to QB and Broge back at RB, the Dawgs took the air as the two connected on a 23 yard play to move the ball deep into Bearcats territory. Not long after, it was Luedeking taking the handoff on a punishing run for a 17 yard TD. This would put Aquin up 18-0 with 5:46 left in the half.
The Bulldogs would get the ball back as Arndt would intercept a Salinas pass, giving them the ball at their own 35 yard line. No rest for the weary, as Arndt was on the receiving end of a 65 yard TD pass from Wolfe on the very next play, extending Aquin's lead to 24-0 with 4:57 to go until half time.
Aquin would kickoff with a squib kick, which they had done most of the game, but this one hit the ground hard as a Bearcat tried to field it, but Arndt hustled down the left sideline and jumped on it for the Bulldogs at the Bearcat 31 yard line. The Dawgs would move the ball to the 10 yard line where Wolfe would connect with Luedeking on a swing pass, as Luedeking ran through and bounced off a Bearcat defender before waltzing into the end zone for a 5th Aquin TD. This would push the Aquin lead to 30-0 with 3:59 left to play.
The Bearcats would keep fighting, and on their next possession Salinas would drop back and find Kaeb down the left seam for a 48 yard TD pass to close the score to 30-6 in favor of Aquin.
A series of interceptions would close out the half, as Wolf would get picked off by Mason Blanck, and on the ensuing possession Salinas was picked off by Cooper Hathaway to close out the first half.
The Aquin defense would continue to stifle the Bearcats, as Salinas became a one man show for MCP with no answers to Aquin's speed and pressure.
On Aquin's first possession of the 2nd half they would chew up almost 5 minutes off the clock, but a Luedeking fumble would be scooped up by Blanck. No panic for the Dawgs, as they stopped the Bearcats on a turnover on downs at the Aquin 48 yard line.
Luedeking would make up for his fumble as he took a handoff off the right edge of the line and stiff armed 4 different Bearcats, one so hard his helmet fell off, as he rumbled down the right sideline for a 40 yard score. Overhearing the crowd, it reminded some Aquin fans of Derrick Henry. For me, it took me back just two years to NUIC legend Sean Ormiston. The run was something to see as it put Aquin up 36-6 with 11:11 remaining in the game.
On the next Bearcat possession, Salinas would connect with Justin Tillman on a 37 yard pass play. That play was followed by a 19 yard run by Kaeb, who tip toed his way down the left sideline and fought his way into the end zone, but he had stepped out at the 2 yard line. Two plays later Kaeb would get his TD on a 1 yard end around to make the score 36-14 in favor of Aquin with 8:24 remaining.
The ensuing Aquin possession would start from their own 42 yard line. A 15 yard connection between Wolfe and Arndt was followed by a 25 yard run by Luedeking. Wolfe would connect with Arndt again for an 8 yard TD pass to put the final scoring on the game. The 2 point try was successful as Aquin took a 44-14 lead with 6:20 to go in the game.
The Bearcats never quit, as Salinas continued to try to will his team back into the game, but a final fumble was recovered by Gavin Hunziker as it closed the story on the game. Aquin would go into victory formation and walk away with a convincing 44-14 win.
Aquin will hit the road Friday to take on Alden-Hebron (0-2) as two monumental games loom in weeks 4 and 5 with state ranked teams in Orangeville and West Central follow.
Leading the way for the Dawgs was the play of Ollie Arndt. He caught the ball 9 times for 143 yards and 2 TD's, along with 2 fumble recoveries, all after running a cross country race in the morning prior to the game. Evan Broge went 6-6 passing for 94 yards and a TD, and rushed the ball 11 times for 75 yards and a TD. Clay Luedeking brought the physicality to the game, rushing for 159 yards on 14 attempts and 2 TD's, and hauling in 4 passes for 72 yards and 2 TD's. Aiden Wolfe was 8-12 passing for 126 yards with 3 TD's and 1 INT.