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Ellsworth locks down second season

BALDWIN - With a 20-6 Middle Border Conference victory over Baldwin-Woodville on Friday night, the Ellsworth Panthers are playoff bound.

Thanks to big plays in the passing game and a two-touchdown effort by running back Dennis Schutz, Ellsworth overcame a sluggish start to beat a Blackhawks team set on playing spoiler.

“Tonight, Baldwin played us tough,” said Panthers’ head coach Clair Austin. “It was kind of a playoff game for them, and we weren’t hitting on all cylinders after last week’s big win (against Somerset).”

Baldwin-Woodville gave Ellsworth a shock in the first quarter when Devon Sundstrom put in a 2-yard touchdown run to give the Blackhawks a 6-0 lead with 2:50 left in the quarter.

Normally pounding the ball on the ground, the Panthers got their first score in the air when Emery Whalen connected with Nick Taranto for a 20-yard touchdown. The point-after attempt was blocked, tying the game at 6-6 with 8:42 left until halftime.

Over three minutes later, Schutz scampered into the end zone on a 15-yard run to give Ellsworth the lead. Then after halftime, Schutz broke off a score from midfield, catching a pass from Whalen and going 50 yards to make it a 20-6 contest.

From there, the Panthers’ defense shut Baldwin-Woodville down. Ellsworth had three takeaways, with an interception by Brett Freier and fumble recoveries from Jarek Fischer and Brandon VanderMarliere. In six games this season, the

Panthers have given up just 29 points, an average of 4.8 points allowed per game.

“We had a couple good plays by some kids (on offense),” Austin said. “Then we had the three turnovers, and defense is the name of the game. One turnover put us at their 15-yard line, and one set up another score.”

Schutz had 10 carries for 72 yards rushing, and Whalen was 5 of 13 for 87 yards through the air. Adam Schuster had nine tackles and a sack on defense, while Logan Kemmerer also had nine tackles in the Ellsworth victory.

The playoff-bound Panthers (6-0, 4-0 MBC) head to New Richmond next Friday.

RE Sports

The Red Wing Republican Eagle covers local sports in Goodhue County and surrounding areas. 

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