Knights stun GHEC

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 5, 1999

The Alden-Conger Knights were not favored or expected to win their season football opener against Granada-Huntley-East Chain.

Sunday, September 05, 1999

The Alden-Conger Knights were not favored or expected to win their season football opener against Granada-Huntley-East Chain. Someone forgot to tell them.

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The Knights, who graduated a host of starters from last year’s team that reached the nine-man state semifinals, overcame a 20-7 fourth-quarter deficit to win 27-26 at Alden Friday night.

It was a huge win for the Knights, who handed the Mustangs their lone regular-season loss last year and kept them from tying Glenville-Emmons for the Confederacy Conference championship. This year, GHEC received votes in the Associated Press Class 1A poll and was favored to win the conference title.

According to Knights coach Gary Nelson, tradition had a lot to do with Friday’s outcome.

&uot;To tell you the truth, I think our kids played over their heads tonight because of what happened last year,&uot; said Nelson. &uot;They did not quit. These kids wanted to win. They got that taste and they want to keep it in their mouth.&uot;

The Knights, ranked No. 5 in the preseason nine-man poll, trailed most of the night.

The Mustangs took 13-0 lead on a 10-yard touchdown run and a 35-yard touchdown pass before the Knights got on the board.

The score – on a 2-yard halfback pass from Derek Thorson to Sam Guanella – came very late in the second quarter. Jeremy Loyd’s PAT kick made it 13-7 at halftime.

The Mustangs made it 20-7 with a 1-yard touchdown run by their quarterback in the third quarter.

&uot;Then it got interesting,&uot; said Nelson.

Early in the fourth period, Vinnie VanEnglenburg hit Brandon Tukua with a 45-yard touchdown pass and Sam Guanella ran for a two-point conversion, cutting the lead to 20-15.

Then VanEnglenburg scored on a 22-yard quarterback keeper, giving the Knights a 21-20 lead.

It didn’t last long. GHEC answered with another touchdown run by their quarterback, taking a 26-21 advantage.

The Knights responded with the biggest play of the night. VanEnglenburg took a handoff on a reverse and returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, putting the Knights on top by a point with three minutes remaining.

The defense held, coming up with two sacks on the Mustangs’ final possession.

The Knights were outgained for the game 323-196, including 227-132 rushing.

VanEnglenburg was A-C’s leading ball carrier with 78 yards on 15 attempts. He was 6-for-16 passing for 64 yards and one interception. Tim Bruns caught two passes for 23 yards.

Paul Scrabeck, Alex Drescher, Ben Drescher and Ben Tukua led the defense.

&uot;Our defensive line did a great job,&uot; said Nelson. &uot;They sucked it up on a hot day, giving up 60 pounds apiece.&uot;

The Knights play next Saturday at 1:30 at Nicollet.