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High-flying Eagles open season with 1813 win at Lancaster
Fennimore scores first win over Lancaster since 2010
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Fennimore's Liam Kenney attempts to juke Lancaster's Evan Straka during a run in the second half of Friday's season opener at Lancaster. Kenney caught seven passes for 98 yards and a touchdown.

LANCASTER — Junior Reid Larson completed 23 of 33 passes for 289 yards and a pair of touchdowns in his first varsity start at quarterback to lead Fennimore to an 18–13 non-conference victory over host Lancaster last Friday night.

It was the Golden Eagles’ first win over their southern neighbors since an 18–14 victory over the Flying Arrows in 2010, snapping a string of six straight losses to their non-conference rivals.

“It’s a great way to start the year, but ultimately this one game isn’t is gong to define our year,” said Fennimore head coach Boone Tollefson. “Like I told the kids after the game, the most important thing is how we response to this. How do we move forward? How hard will we work to keep improving?” 

Senior first-team All-SWAL wide receivers Trevor Neuroth and Liam Kenney were simply more than the Flying Arrows’ defense could handle. 

Neuroth hauled in 10 Larson passes for 129 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown with 4:53 left in the third quarter that gave the Golden Eagles (1–0) a 12–6 lead.

Kenney added a 7-yard TD reception just 34 seconds later to make it 18–6 three plays after one of Lancaster’s four lost fumbles.

Fennimore opened the scoring on a Zach Davis 3-yard TD run on the third play of the second quarter.

Fennimore’s defense was equally as dominant Friday night.

The Eagles held Lancaster to just six points through three quarters and forced four turnovers. 

“The key to the win was our run defense,” said Tollefson. “Being able to stifle them for much of the game, not allowing them to sustain drives and keep momentum going was definitely the key for us.

“Across the front, Kevin Griswold and Dakota Govier at defensive end did a good job of attacking the quarterback, Derek Kephart and Will Ahnen and linebacker did a tremendous job tackling and wrapping up. Everyone across the board did a good job of controlling their gap and not getting pushed down field.”

Fennimore held Lancaster’s mighty option rushing attack to 201 yards on 36 carries. The Eagles did a fairly good job containing senior fullback Evan Gates, who rushed for 275 yards and 4 TDs in a 40–32 win over Fennimore a year ago on his way to a state-best 2,294 yards rushing. 

Gates finished Friday’s game with 185 carries on 24 carries, but 81 came on one run early in the second quarter, setting up his own 2-yard TD run that tied the game at 6–6.

Larson, Neuroth and Kenney dominated the third quarter, but Fennimore opened the door for a Lancaster comeback when a botched snap on a fourth down punt attempt gave the Arrows the ball at the Eagles’ 22 with 9:34 left in the game.

The mistake was compounded by a personal foul penalty on the play, giving Lancaster the ball at the 11. 

“We had a mental mistake and that definitely changed the momentum of the game right there,” said Tollefson.

One play later senior Jared Straka threw an 11-yard TD pass to Morgan Seippel. Tanner Oyen’s PAT made it 18–13.

Lancaster held Fennimore on the ensuing drive and forced a punt.

A good punt return by Gates set the Arrows up at the Fennimore 28, but Fennimore held and a 4th-and-8 pass sailed incomplete.

Fennimore was forced to punt from its own 30 with three minutes left, but Lancaster freshman Hayden Knapp muffed the punt and sophomore Kellen Kenney recovered at the Lancaster 32.

“The muffed punt gave us the ball back, but we still had to run out the clock,” said Tollefson. “But that botched punt return definitely took the wind out of their sails.”

Fennimore struggled to run the ball all night, but junior Zach Davis ran for five yards on back-to-back plays.

The Arrows were forced to burn their final time out and it appeared the game would be over on the next play.

Larson took the snap with 33 seconds left and dropped back to burn more time before taking a knee with 28.6 seconds left.

But Larson was hit late by a Lancaster player and the officials called a personal foul, which should have resulted in an automatic first down. 

Instead, the officials assessed a 15-yard spot foul to bring up 4-and-1.

In the confusion, Fennimore crossed its signals to Larson, who took a knee on 4-and-1 with seconds left, giving Lancaster one last play. 

Straka completed a 25-yard pass to Gates, but Kepart made the final tackle near midfield to end the game.

Kephart finished with a team-high 13 tackles. Griswold, Kellen Kenney and junior linebacker Maguire Fitzgerald each made six tackles. 

“We obviously have thing to clean up like penalties,” added Tollefson. “We didn’t run the ball very well, and that’s something we will continue to work on, but that game is over. The focus is on to Richland Center and doing the things we need to improve each week.”

Fennimore will travel to Richland Center for another non-conference game this Friday. The Hornets (0–1) opened the season with a 38–14 loss at Iowa–Grant last Friday.


Fennimore 18, Lancaster 13

(from Friday, Aug. 18 @ Lancaster)

Fennimore 0 6 12 0 — 18

Lancaster 0 6 0 7 — 13

Second quarter

F: Zach Davis 3 run (kick blocked)

L: Evan Gates 2 run (kick failed)

Third quarter

F: Trevor Neuroth 14 pass from Reid Larson (pass failed)

F: Liam Kenney 7 pass from Larson (pass failed) 

Fourth quarter

L: Morgan Seippel 11 pass from Evan Straka (Oyen kick) 

Team Statistics

First downs — F 13, L 14. Rushing — F 26-(-6), L: 36-201. Passing (comp-att-int, yds) — F 23-33-0, 289, L 7-12-0, 92. Fumbles–lost F 1-0, L 5-4. Penalties-yards F 5-58, L 7-44. 

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Rushing — F: Zach Davis 15-23. L: Evan Gates 24-185. Passing — F: Reid Larson 23-33-0, 289. L: Evan Straka 7-12-0, 92. Receiving — F: Trevor Neuroth 10-129, Liam Kenney 7-98. L: Hayden Knapp 2-34.