• Video Below: See Eight Man-1 video highlights
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LINCOLN — The cleanup, Ross Schindler said, had to begin with him.
Defending champion Elgin/Pope John had played a lackluster first half in the Eight Man-1 final Monday at Memorial Stadium, trailing Exeter-Milligan 14-8.
After Schindler went 55 yards to score on the Wolfpack’s first possession, the remaining possessions ended on a punt, a loss of downs, a fumble, a punt, a fumble and the end of the half.
“I fumbled both times. I knew I had to change something up, just hold onto the ball better,” Schindler said. “We were hurting ourselves pretty much the whole first half. We came out, we cleaned our game up and I guess we saw the results.”
The No. 2 Wolfpack (13-0) scored on every possession in the second half, and got a defensive touchdown, for a 40-14 win that extended their two-year winning streak to 26 games.
They were leading 16-14 midway through the third quarter when the Timberwolves had a bad punt snap bounce into their end zone. Austin Heying succeeded in diving for possession before rolling out of bounds.
“That turned the whole tide of the game,” Schindler said.
Heying said the Wolfpack were going for the punt block. No. 7 Exeter-Milligan (12-1) earlier bounced a snap to its punter.
“Nick Heithoff did a good job making sure the punter couldn’t get to it,” Heying said.
It was one of two turnovers for the Timberwolves in a scoreless second half.
“We didn’t execute enough on defense or offense,” Exeter-Milligan coach Dean Filipi said. (Elgin/Pope John) took us out of a lot of things.”
The Wolfpack wrapped up the win with two fourth-quarter touchdowns on sustained drives of six minutes and 5:16. Schindler ran for his second touchdown of the game and junior Alex Pelster scored on a 15-yard run in the final minute.
“We had to drive the ball down their throats second half, hoping to break their spirit,” Wolfpack coach Carlie Wells said. “Our offensive line executed well in the second half.”
Exeter-Milligan, which had 123 yards in the first half but only 73 in the second, scored all its points in the second quarter. Kyle Jensen got both touchdowns, on a 2-yard run and a 21-yard reception from James Sluka.
“We basically let that quarterback scramble around and make plays with his arm and legs,” Schindler said. “Our D-line did a great job of containing him in the second half and our secondary didn’t let anything get behind them.”
Exeter-Milligan (12-1) ................. 0 14 0 0—14
Elgin/Pope John (13-0) ................. 8 0 16 16—40
EPJ: Ross Schindler 55 run (Austin Heying run)
EM: Kyle Jensen 2 run (rush failed)
EM: Jensen 21 pass from James Sluka (Robert Androyna pass from Sluka)
EPJ: Blake Anderson 9 run (Schindler rush)
EPJ: Heying fumble recovery in end zone (Schindler rush)
EPJ: Schindler 2 run (Anderson rush)
EPJ: Alex Pelster 15 run (Seth Schumacher run)
RUSHING: EM, Jensen 20-46, Sluka 12-26, Androyna 4-12, Sam Zeleny 1-4, team 1-minus 20. EPJ, Schindler 16-141, Anderson 22-110, Heying 7-31, Pelster 1-15, Levi Kerman 2-7.
PASSING: EM, Sluka 12-19-1 114, Zeleny 0-1-0 0, Jensen 1-1-0 14. EPJ, Schindler 3-3-0 35.
RECEIVING: EM, Jensen 6-69, Derek Luzum 3-28, Androyna 3-23, Jesse Hall 1-8. EPJ, Zach Polk 1-33, Anderson 1-3, Heying 1-minus 1.
DEFENSE (unassisted-assisted-total): EM, Nolan White 4-10-14, Dustin Axline 4-8-12, Androyna 7-4-11, Jensen 4-6-10, Blake Papik 4-4-8, Garrett Pribyl 4-2-6, Sluka 1-2-3, Luzum 1-1-2, Hall 1-1-2. EPJ, Lee Bartak 2-11-13, Trent Hoefer 4-7-11, Andrew Heithoff 4-6-10, Anderson 2-6-8, Shane Beckman 1-7-8, Schindler 3-4-7, Nick Heithoff 2-4-6, Kyle Heithoff 1-5-6, Blake Schrage 1-2-3, Pelster 0-2-2, Alois Warner 0-2-2, Andrew Fangman 1-0-1, Peter Starman 1-0-1, Polk 0-1-1, Kyle Kallhoff 0-1-1.
FUMBLE RECOVERIES: EM, White 2. EPJ, White 1.