Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Clutch defense keeps Ely perfect

Patrick Slack
Posted 9/29/16

ELY—No matter what Cook County did, it couldn't seem to find its way into the endzone.

Or keep Ely junior back Matt Gerzin out of it.

A late Cook County score prevented the shutout, but was …

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Clutch defense keeps Ely perfect

Posted

ELY—No matter what Cook County did, it couldn't seem to find its way into the endzone.

Or keep Ely junior back Matt Gerzin out of it.

A late Cook County score prevented the shutout, but was far too little, too late to knock off unbeaten Ely on Friday. The fifth-ranked Wolves topped the Vikings 26-6 to earn a homecoming win in a rematch of last season's Section 7A championship.

The Wolves started the scoring on a 33-yard Josh Heiman touchdown run in the opening minutes, then extended their lead to 12-0 on a fourth-down quarterback sneak by Carter Gaulke on the first play of the second quarter.

Cook County nearly cut that lead in half on its ensuing possession, only for the Wolves defense to come up with the first of a string of key redzone stops. The Vikings got the ball inside the 1-yard line, but couldn't break through on four consecutive plays.

"I thought (our defense) played very well," Ely head coach Brian Lamppa said. "They kept us in the ballgame."

It was a similar story midway through the third quarter. Cook County used an 83-yard scamper to move the ball inside the Ely 10, but Adam Porthan, who finished with a team-high 12 tackles, intercepted a pass on the very next play to squash the threat. The Wolves delivered yet another redzone stop to maintain their 12-0 lead late in the quarter.

Then, it was Gerzin's time to take over.

Lined up deep in the backfield, Gerzin took the handoff and darted around, past and through multiple tacklers en route to a 30-yard touchdown.

Moments later, Gerzin pulled off perhaps an even more impressive touchdown run from 24 yards out, starting toward the sideline, reversing field and dashing up the middle to put the game far out of reach.

"That was big," Lamppa said. "He's kind of a determined kid. It's a hard time to bring him down."

Cook County finally got on the board on a fourth-down pass midway through the fourth.

Heiman was the leading rusher for Ely with 151 yards, followed by Gerzin with 89 and Evan Omerza with 53.

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