The Le Mars Community freshman football team pitched a shutout in its final game on the schedule, defeating Spencer 26-0 Monday at Spencer to cap a successful 7-2 2005 campaign.
"It was by far the best game of our year," said coach Dirk Bak. "Spencer's record coming into it was the same as ours. That was a good Spencer team we played. I would say it's the second-best team we've played this year next to Emmetsburg. Our defense held them at bay and our offense could do what it wanted to. We were clicking tonight."
It didn't take the Bulldogs long to capture the lead on the road, catching the home Tigers off guard with a no huddle offense as quarterback Tyler Candor completed a 61-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Bohlke on the second play from scrimmage. Evan Knowlton's extra point kick attempt failed and Le Mars led 6-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Candor was back at it in the second quarter, this time taking it in himself on an 8-yard scoring run. Levi Price rushed for the 2-point conversion and a 14-0 Bulldog lead. Bohlke added his second touchdown of the game later in the quarter on a 15-yard run to put Le Mars comfortably in front 20-0 at halftime.
The Bulldogs' final score of the game came after a wild series of plays in the third quarter. Le Mars had the ball inches from the goal line and ran a quarterback sneak with Candor, who fumbled into the end zone for a Spencer touchback. On Spencer's first play after gaining possession, however, the Tigers fumbled the ball and Le Mars recovered. On the very next play, Bohlke sprinted 22 yards into the end zone for a touchdown and a 26-0 victory.
Le Mars had 269 yards of total offense for the game, with 181 coming on the ground. Bohlke led all rushers with 70 yards and 2 touchdowns on 11 carries, with Candor adding 36 yards and a score on 7 rushes. Price also had 24 yards on 3 carries, Matt Tritz had 18 yards on 4 carries, Ryan Baue 13 yards on 4 carries, Matt Jurgens 12 yards on 5 carries and Pat Rosacker 8 yards on 3 carries.
Candor was 6 of 10 passing for 88 yards and one touchdown, with Bohlke catching 2 passes for 66 yards and a score. Chris Bergquist had 2 receptions for 20 yards, Tritz 1 catch for 7 and Baue 1 for 14.
Knowlton was back to full strength for Le Mars in the kicking game after struggling with injury for part of the season, punting twice for 62 yards and booming 5 kickoffs for 280 yards.
Aaron Fischer had the Bulldogs' only punt return of the game for 17 yards.
Baue led the defense with 9 tackles, while Tritz added 6 tackles and fumble recovery. Rosacker had 5 wrap-ups, Travis Westhoff, Fischer and Ben Beitelspacher had 4 apiece, Travis Hansen and Andrew Pritcher 3 each and Price 2. Bohlke also had 2 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery, Nick Plueger had 2 tackles and a fumble recovery and Bergquist, Jacob Conley, Zerick Kuecker and Spencer Vore contributed a tackle each.
Bak was pleased with the 7-2 overall recored and the way in which the players achieved it, slowy coming together over the course of the season.
"One of the things we struggled with was becoming a single element on the field and this is getting close to as good as it gets as far as playing as a team," said Bak. "I'm extremely proud of how they came together and tightened up."
The coach now anticipates watching this group of Friday nights in years to come.
"They're as deep as we've seen in the last four years," said Bak. "These guys are as good as we've coached and that game tonight is as good as any we've played in the last four years."
The Bulldogs will hold their end-of-the-season banquet, catered by Godfather's, Nov. 1 in the Middel School Commons.