Emmetsburg (8-1, 6-0) established a 21-0 lead before the end of the first quarter with three rushing touchdowns by three different ball carriers. Austin McCarten scored from one yard out, Cody Henderson ran for a 26-yard touchdown and Andrew Wellik scored from four yards out. Nick Merwald kicked the extra point after each score.
The E-Hawks scored twice more early in second quarter on touchdown runs by Wellik of six and 26 yards to take a 35-0 lead.
The Jays (2-7, 2-4) finally got on the board 21 seconds before halftime on a 1-yard touchdown pass from junior Blake Wiltgen to senior Michael Whitehead. It was Whitehead's 13th touchdown reception of the season. Gehlen trailed 35-7 at halftime following a PAT by senior Fabio Rivera.
Gehlen scored one more time late in the third quarter on a 53-yard touchdown pass play from Wiltgen to Whitehead again. Rivera's PAT made the score 35-14.
Wiltgen was 23-for-45 passing in the game for 253 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions. Wiltgen eclipsed 2,000 yards for the season and finished 161-for-320 passing for 2,077 yards, 22 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Wiltgen also finished the season as Gehlen's leading rusher with 284 yards and two touchdowns on 80 carries.
Whitehead was Wiltgen's favorite target, finishing with 77 receptions for 873 yards and 14 touchdowns. Whitehead caught 13 passes for 125 yards and the two touchdowns against Emmetsburg.
Emmetsburg added a pair of rushing touchdowns by two more different runners in the fourth quarter. The two scores and a pair of missed PAT's set the final score.
"We would've liked a couple more wins," Gunter said. "I thought a couple more wins were possible at the beginning of the season. We didn't get them. We had to finish with the best team, I think, in our class. It was a little rough.
"We did some things throughout the year that I thought we could build on for the next season. That's all you hope for is that the kids learn and hopefully your seniors have a somewhat satisfying experience. I thought the Spalding thing worked out all right and hopefully we're kind of the sport that gets that thing going."
Mitchell Flack caught five passes for 51 yards against Emmetsburg. Aaron Jentz caught three passes for 62 yards. Jentz finished the season second to Whitehead in receptions (31), receiving yards (536) and touchdown receptions (3).
Corey Sitzmann led the Jays in tackles with five solo and five assisted. Flack finished with five solo tackles and four assisted.
Flack also finished the season with a team-high 43 solo tackles and 79 total tackles.
Senior Angel Chagolla made three solo tackles, assisted on six more and made one tackle behind the line of scrimmage. Austin Herbst made four solo tackles, assisted on two more and made two tackles for a loss. Wiltgen, Whitehead and Zach Kinney each finished with five total tackles.
Herbst and Sitzmann were second and third on the team with 43 and 39 total tackles, respectively. The Jays' top four tacklers were juniors this season as Wiltgen came in fourth with 37.
Senior Dominic Ellensohn caught one interception for one of the two turnovers forced by the Gehlen defense.
Rivera made 20 out of 24 attempts extra points this season and was 4-for-8 on field goals, including a school-record 45-yard field goal against Okoboji in Week 6.
The Jays had 14 seniors this season, including linemen Lorenzo Tomasiello, Ryan Bates and Ross Tentinger.
"I'm going to miss all of them," Gunter said. "We graduate 14 guys. A good portion of them were out for all four years. For me, that's always hard when those kids commit like that for that long because it's a tough sport. There's a lot of slogging around outside in not good weather.
"Finishing 2-7 probably wasn't what everybody wanted, but it's going to happen now and again. I'm really proud of the way the guys stuck in there. It never got to be a miserable thing like it could if we didn't have the great bunch of kids that we do here."