Long run, short drives push Huskies to big win over Austin
Owatonna running back Conner Grems, No. 2, bursts through a hole while fullback Drew Kretlow, No. 33, looks to make a block ahead of him. Grems tallied 179 rushing yards and two touchdowns rushing on 19 attempts against Austin. Staff photo by Sevy Enter
Owatonna disrupted Austin’s Homecoming celebration with a 34-7 victory on Friday night at Wescott Field. OHS built a big first half lead then weathered some adversity after halftime.
The Huskies first touch from scrimmage went for an 80-yard score by Conner Grems. Coach Jeff Williams said, “We were able to get an off-tackle power. Blocked up very well. Drew Kretlow had a nice kick-out. Our line did a nice job of blocking down inside. Grems was able to find a seam.”
And that was just the start for him, “He was able to get into the secondary and make some moves in the open field, drop his shoulder on a few people.” Grems rushed for 179 yards and two touchdowns. Owatonna’s starting offensive front consisted of Torrin Smith, Ethan Anderson, Jack Meneguzzo, Mikah Elstad, and Grant Lower.
Grems later sprinted about 70 yards to catch an Austin player at the two-yard line to prevent a pick-six. Williams cited the play as a good response to a challenge, “Huge hustle play…That is a response to a little bit of adversity. Not quitting on a play.” The Huskies forced a fumble on third down to pull off the goal line stand. Williams said the defense played well. Smith had a sack. Collin Vick picked off a pass.
The opening score “flipped the field,” according to Williams, forcing the Packers to start deep in their own territory and leading to a series of short scoring drives. Owatonna started on the Austin side of midfield on four straight first half possessions.
Drew Kretlow capped a 10-play drive with a 10-yard TD run. Grems stiff-armed his way to a 21-yard scoring run to put the final touches on a 21-0 first quarter. Junior quarterback Jacob Ginskey returned for a two-week absence due to an ankle sprain. He connected with Owen Beyer on a 26-yard touchdown early in the second quarter.
Drew Henson drilled a 45-yard field goal, two yards shy of the school-record kick of 47 yards by Carter McCauley in 2013. Henson connected from 24 yards as time expired in the second for a 34-0 lead at the half.
The Huskies second half was slowed by turnovers. There were two interceptions and a muffed punt that kept the Packers only scoring drive alive. Williams said, “When you have a team down big, you have to be able to put them away.”
He tied in a baseball reference that he hears from Huskies’ coach Tate Cummins, “You’re gonna kick a ground ball. What is your response after that mistake…For most of the second half, mistakes led to a second mistake…We’re going to have to work on our psychological response to something going badly.”
Northfield comes to OHS Friday for Homecoming. Williams says the Raiders are moving back to their roots and will likely look to establish the run game. He added the Raiders have a very athletic player at quarterback, who took over the spot after an injury to the apparent starter.