The Austin Packers football team was looking to snap a three-game losing streak Wednesday evening as they played host to the Mankato East Cougars in the regular season finale for both squads at the Wescott Athletic Complex, but it was the Cougars firing the opening salvo in the form of a 59-yard pass completion and never relinqushing the momentum the rest of the game on their way to a 35-0 win.
Austin won the opening toss and deferred to the second half, but on the first play of the game, Cougar quarterback Jacob Eggert, who wound up throwing for 255 yards and two touchdowns found wide receiver Jared Grams on a slant over the middle for a 59-yard gain, moving East from their 31 to the Packer 12-yard line. Five plays later, running back Ethan Sundermeyer scored from six yards out to give the Cougars an 8-0 lead after the 2-point conversion run by Grams.
After Austin was forced into a three-and-out on their first drive, Mankato East took over on their 31, and a 29-yard pass from Eggert to Grams helped to spark a five-play, 69 yard touchdown drive which was capped off by a 5-yard touchdown pass from Eggert to wide receiver Nathan Drumm to push the Cougars’ lead to 16-0 after a 2-point conversion run by running back August Gartzke.
Austin took over at their 38 after the ensuing kickoff and had the ball for five plays before turning it over on downs to Mankato East at their 41. Although the Packers recovered a fumble on the third play of the drive, the Cougar defense again forced a three-and-out and a punt by Joe Ewing was blocked, giving East the ball at the Austin 20-yard line. Four plays later, Sundermeyer dove in from the 1-yard line to give the Cougars a 22-0 lead after the extra point was missed.
Mankato East took that 22-0 lead into the locker room at halftime, and on the first drive of the second half, the Cougar defense again rose to the occasion and forced the Packers to turn the ball over on downs after six plays at the Cougar 44. Seven plays later, Tanner Borchart caught a fade pass from Eggert in the back of the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown and a 28-0 lead after the try for two was no good.
Austin started their next drive on their 33, but again were forced into a three-and-out and punted the ball back to the Cougars, who took over on their 36. A 29-yard pass on the drive from Eggert to Grams and a 26-yard run by Sundermeyer helped to key a nine-play, 64-yard touchdown drive capped off by Eggert keeping the ball on the read option and scoring from 11 yards out to make the final 35-0 after Nathan Drumm’s extra point.
Joe Walker led Austin in rushing with 11 carries for 42 yards, and quarterback Teyghan Hovland ran the ball 15 times for 16 yards. Hovland was 6 of 13 passing for 52 yards, and Jack Lang was 3 for 5 for 24 yards. Tommy Fritz led the Packers in receiving as he snagged five passes for 30 yards, Ethan Owens had one catch for 18 yards, Novell Jackson tallied two catches for 15 yards and Gage Manahan had one catch for 13 yards. Defensivley, Logan O’Rourke, Mason O’Connor and Adam Vlasaty each recovered a fumble as Austin wound up +3 in the giveaway/takeaway ratio, and Joe Walker tallied the lone sack in the game for the Packers.
With the loss, Austin winds up the regular season at 1-5, and as of last word, they are scheduled to play Rochester John Marshall in the Section 1AAAAA quarterfinals next Tuesday evening, with kickoff at 7:00 p.m.