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Ehrich powers No. 4 B.E. Area gridders over No. 8 Luverne

GRINDING OUT YARDS — Blue Earth Area running back Max Ehrich (2) squeezes out another yard despite being tackled by Luverne defenders Jack Schlosser (7) and Shaid Shearer (23) during prep football action Friday night at Wilson Field in Blue Earth. Bucs’ tight end Ashton Lloyd (14) helps block on the play, while the Cardinals’ Ayden Bonnet (51) looks on. (Photo by Greg Abel)

BLUE EARTH — If Max Ehrich played in the NFL, Blue Earth Area’s senior running back would have generated massive points for fans involved in fantasy football leagues.

The 5-foot-10, 175-pound Ehrich not only found the gaps created by the Bucs’ powerful offensive line, but also bulldozed his way to a single-game school-record 311 rushing yards and four touchdowns to engineer Class AA No. 4-ranked Blue Earth Area’s 41-10 rout of the Class AAA No. 8-rated Luverne Cardinals on Friday night.

“To the best of my knowledge, that’s the most rushing yards in a single game since I’ve been the head coach here,” said Bucs’ 30-year veteran mentor Randy Kuechenmeister. “We’ve had some guys in the 290s, but I can’t remember any one over 300.

“Up front, it happened.”

Blue Earth Area tackles Luke Mertens and Vern Johnson, guards Kean Hicks and Nick Frank, center Luke Norman, tight ends Anders Fering and Ashton Lloyd, and upback Austin Thielfoldt dominated the line of scrimmage against 6-3, 277-pound tackling machine Zach Ahrendt and Luverne’s solid defensive unit.

“Luverne took away our inside run during our second possession, so we went to a sweep to get outside,” said Kuechenmeister, whose lineup piled up 423 yards on the ground. “Obviously, it worked and opened things up a bit.”

After Ehrich’s five consecutive pounding runs set up receiver Cameron Anderson’s 10-yard TD catch from quarterback Gavin Storbeck during the game’s initial series, the Bucs’ offensive juggernaut ran around, past, over and through the Cardinals during the home team’s next two possessions en route to a 21-7 halftime lead.

Storbeck contributed 47 yards on four quarterback keepers to prevent Luverne’s defense from keying on Ehrich. Storbeck’s 23-yard sprint helped lead to Ehrich’s 7-yard TD up the middle. Hicks and Mertens delivered pancake blocks during the last two ground surges to help engineer the Bucs’ 14-0 lead.

BEA safety Cameron Anderson tracked down Luverne QB Casey Sehr’s throw-away attempt deep in the secondary for an interception only to watch as LaShad Smith answered for the Cardinals just two snaps later.

Smith stepped in front of a Storbeck spiral in front of the Bucs’ sideline and sprinted 50 yards for a pick-6. Shaid Shearer kicked the PAT to narrow Luverne’s gap to 14-7 with 6:50 left in the second quarter.

Ehrich, however, covered 73 of BEA’s ensuing 80-yard scoring march downfield to reshift the momentum back to the hometown team. Ehrich displayed his speed, agility and power during a 40-yard TD run to cap the five-play drive. Hicks’ third PAT kick staked the Bucs to a 21-7 lead with 3:56 remaining in the first half.

After linebacker Adam Schavey and the Bucs forced a Luverne punt to open the third quarter, Ehrich gave BEA more breathing room by reaching the house on a 42-yard slashing sprint out of the wildcat formation.

Ehrich then exited the offensive side of the field on the heels of his fourth TD — from 13 yards out — with 3:17 remaining in the third quarter and the Bucs ahead 34-7.

Riley Anderson contributed a 10-yard TD run on the heels of Logan O’Hara’s fumble recovery for BEA early in the fourth before Shearer displayed his powerful and accurate kicking leg for Luverne by connecting on a 38-yard field goal.

Blue Earth Area (2-0) travels to Redwood Falls on Saturday, Oct. 24, for a 1 p.m. game with Class AA No. 3-ranked Redwood Valley. Luverne (1-1) plays host to Jackson County Central at 7 p.m. next Friday night.

Luverne 0 7 0 3 — 10

B.E. Area 7 14 13 7 — 41

Scoring Plays

1st Quarter

BEA–Cameron Anderson 10 pass from Gavin Storbeck (Kean Hicks kick), 9:27.

2nd Quarter

BEA–Max Ehrich 7 run (Hicks kick), 9:03.

LUV–LaShad Smith 50 interception return (Shaid Shearer kick), 6:50.

BEA–Ehrich 40 run (Hicks kick), 3:56.

3rd Quarter

BEA–Ehrich 42 run (kick failed), 7:52.

BEA–Ehrich 13 run (Hicks kick), 3:10.

4th Quarter

BEA–Riley Anderson 10 run (Hicks kick), 11:37.

LUV–Shearer 38 FG, 6:49.

TEAM STATISTICS

First downs: B.E. Area 21; Luverne 4. Rushing: BEA 53-423; Luverne 19-69. Passing: BEA 3-7-2-28; Luverne 7-14-1-66. Fumbles-lost: BEA 0-0; Luverne 4-2. Penalties: BEA 2-10; Luverne 5-40.

INDIVIDUAL STATS

Offense: Rushing: Ehrich (BEA) 34-311; Smith (LUV) 4-33. Passing: Storbeck (BEA) 3-7-2-28; Casey Sehr (LUV) 6-13-1-64. Receiving: C. Anderson (BEA) 2-19, Austin Thielfoldt (BEA) 1-9; Bailey Cowell (LUV) 6-64.

Defense: Interceptions: Zach Kruse (LUV), C. Anderson (BEA), Smith (LUV). Fumble recoveries: Thielfoldt (BEA), Logan O’Hara (BEA).

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