Monday Rewind: Falling Short of Rivalry Victory

Elkhorn North fell to 4-2 on the season after sustaining a 49-35 loss to Elkhorn on Friday night


Photo by Brandon Urbano

Christian Young attempts to tackle an Elkhorn rusher

It was the tale of two halves. Momentum shifts left and right. Two conflicting offensive styles. Massive chances and missed opportunities. After a high scoring affair which resulted in a final reading of 49-35, Elkhorn enthusiastically hit the handshake line as they improved to 3-0 on the rivalry series. Elkhorn North, meanwhile, suffered its second loss of the season and dropped to 0-3 all time against the Antlers. 

The third meeting between the two teams was seen as a huge game for both squads. Elkhorn had already lost to both Gross Catholic and Bennington and needed to regain some momentum as it began its final stretch of the season. Elkhorn North, meanwhile, had only lost one game prior to the match-up, but was absolutely playing its biggest game yet against the Antlers. The two teams play exact opposite forms of football and everyone knew the winner would be the one who could execute their own style better. 

With a perfect late September night and a lot at stake for the two teams, the game was primed to be a fun one.

The night began a little under 70 degrees with a small breeze as the two sides of Maple Street descended on Elkhorn Stadium to put the place at nearly full capacity. Elkhorn wore their home uniforms: the red jersey on white pants. The Wolves, meanwhile, elected to sport their all white uniforms. 

Elkhorn North received the opening kick and got to business early. The Wolves executed one of the most efficient drives seen all season in which they mixed up both the rushing and passing attacks to weaken the Antler defensive effort. The drive culminated in a Josh Basilevac touchdown on a quarterback keeper with 8:34 to go in the first quarter to give the Wolves their first ever lead against the Antlers. 

Elkhorn struck back quickly, however. On the Antlers’ second offensive play of the game, K.J. Schenck burst out of the backfield and burnt Wolves defenders down the sideline to score a touchdown. The game was notched at 7-7 with 7:34 left in the first quarter.

The two teams then exchanged scoreless drives. The Antlers had a chance to score after a deep catch by Audric Bermel, but a pass interference call on Bermel forced  Elkhorn to punt.

Elkhorn North got the ball back and put together a similar possession to the first one which included a massive gain by Jett Tingelhoff on a dump pass right across the line of scrimmage. Christian Young capped it off with a two yard touchdown run with thirty-four seconds left in the first quarter. 

On the ensuing kickoff, Elkhorn’s Andrew Salvatore took the football to the house and the game was tied again at fourteen-all, still with twenty-two seconds left in the first quarter.

Basilevac was 7-7 with 105 yards headed into the second. The game was tied. The Wolves were in it. Ironically, Elkhorn North had scored on two long, drawn out drives while the Antlers scored on two quick hits.

Both defenses forced three-and-outs to start the second quarter. Elkhorn North began to string together another pretty drive, but a deep ball just a bit overthrown by Basilevac landed in the hands of Elkhorn quarterback Connor Hunt, who also played on the defensive side, and the Antlers took control with eight minutes to go in the second quarter.

A few minutes later, Antler fullback Cooper Fedde snuck out of the backfield and had no defenders to beat as he accumulated his first of two touchdowns on a forty yard carry. The scoreboard read 21-14, Elkhorn leading with 6:16 to go in the half.

The Antlers forced a quick Elkhorn North punt and put together one of their typical gritty drives. The Elkhorn offensive line held strong in the trenches while the running back corps executed the wishbone formation. Schenck scored for his second time of the night with a seven yard touchdown run. A little over two minutes remained in the half.

The Wolves were in serious need of responding to a fourteen point deficit and they did just that. A gutsy fourth down play call turned into a Chase Loftin sixteen yard touchdown reception. Elkhorn North narrowed it to 28-21. 

This momentum was short lived, however, as the Antlers would score again before halftime. After a couple of  short running plays, Fedde torched the Wolves’ defense again, this time with a seventy-seven yard score right as the clock hit zeros. The Antlers had a 35-21 advantage at half with all the momentum on their side.

While the Antlers did lead by two scores at half, the Wolves were certainly not out of it and played a solid first half overall. 

With all the action of the first half, the second was relatively uneventful. In fact, not a single point was scored by either of the teams in the third quarter.

The Elkhorn North defense made some adjustments and were able to contain the Antler offense fairly well. They were helped by a missed field goal by Cole Houck and a fumble recovery as well. However, the Wolves’ offense struggled in the third quarter. Another interception was a huge blow to the Elkhorn North effort.

Overall, however, the third quarter did not push the narrative of the football game and little action occurred.

The fourth quarter began with Elkhorn putting together another drive that drained the Elkhorn North defense. Hunt scored on a quarterback keeper to extend the Antlers’ lead to three scores, 42-21, with 8:30 to go in the game. 

The Wolves were officially in desperation mode by this point. The Antlers, barring an Elkhorn North miracle, were primed to win the football game. Schenck scored on another long touchdown run and gave Elkhorn a 49-21 lead with 7:21 left in the game.

Elkhorn North did muster some life in the latter half of the fourth quarter with rushing touchdowns from Tingelhoff and Basilevac, but it wasn’t enough to get them the win. The Antlers walked away with a 49-35 victory and improved to 4-2 on the season while the Wolves dropped to 4-2.

Overall, Elkhorn North played, without a doubt, its best game against Elkhorn in the first three years of the rivalry. The game was never truly out of reach until around halfway through the fourth quarter. However, it was the Antlers who ultimately executed better. They were able to take advantage of Elkhorn North loading the box defensively and made the Wolves pay with several long touchdown runs. 

Even with Cole Sharar hurt, the Wolves’ offensive and defensive lines played good football for most of the game. Basilevac had another solid performance against Elkhorn, but credit is certainly due to the Antlers who played a phenomenal game in the secondary and were able to limit the deep passing attack of Elkhorn North. 

The Wolves, despite this loss, are in a very good position to put themselves in the state playoffs. With three games left, they have a great opportunity to make their mark in Class B and carry some serious momentum into the postseason.

They will face Mount Michael (3-3) this Friday at 7:00 p.m.