Freshman football team wins two in a row
The Sparta freshman football team picked up a pair of big Mississippi Valley Conference wins over the past two weeks, thumping La Crosse Aquinas 50-12 on Oct. 1 and edging cross-county rival Tomah 22-14 Thursday.
Sparta 22, Tomah 14
Luke Wendorf's 39-yard touchdown run in the closing seconds lifted Spartan gridders to a big victory over their neighbors to the east.
Wendorf's long scoring run with 24 seconds left on the clock broke a 14-14 deadlock and gave Sparta the win.
Kody Schaitel set up Sparta's first touchdown when he recovered a Tomah fumble on the Timberwolves' 26-yard line early in the first quarter.
One play later, Wendorf tossed a 23-yard touchdown pass to Nick Church.
Sparta’s two-point conversion attempt failed, but Sparta held an early 6-0 lead.
Tomah answered early in the second quarter, when Erick Gomez scored on a 19-yard run to knot the score at 6-6.
Sparta appeared to have averted another Tomah scoring threat late in the half, when Wendorf picked off a pass and returned in to the Tomah 15-yard line, but the Timberwolves returned the favor on the next play, picking off a Sparta pass and returning for a touchdown as time ran out.
Connor Prielipp hit Mason Gerke for the two-point conversion, giving the Timberwolves a 14-6 lead at intermission.
Sparta tied the score early in the fourth quarter, when Wendorf hit paydirt from 17 yards out and the Spartans tacked on a two-point conversion to force a 14-14 deadlock.
Sparta stopped Tomah on downs near midfield late in the game, taking over possession of the ball with just 1:25 left in the game.
The Spartans picked up one first down and moved the ball into Tomah territory, before Wendorf broke free for the game-winning touchdown run.
Garet Pfaff tacked on the two-point conversion, putting Sparta on top 22-14 for good.
Sparta 50, Aquinas 12
Jaden Raymer tossed three touchdown passes and ran for another, fueling Sparta's 50-12 rout of the Blugolds.
Aquinas drew first blood, when Brandon Merfeld tossed a 74-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Savoldelli.
Sparta answered on its next possession, when Raymer hooked up with Phillip Richards on a four-yard scoring pass to knot the score at 6-6.
With just 34 seconds left in the quarter, Raymer hit Wendorf for an 11-yard touchdown and Wendorf tacked on the two-point conversion to give Sparta a 14-6 lead.
Early in the second quarter, Raymer scored again, this time on a two-yard run with 6:31 left in the half to give Sparta a 20-6 advantage.
Aquinas answered in the closing seconds of the half, when Merfeld hit Michael Bartley on an 18-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to 20-12 at the half.
It was all Sparta in the second half, as the Spartan gridders scored four unanswered touchdowns to pull away for their second straight win.
Wendorf got things started when he returned the second-half kick off 86 yards for a touchdown.
Midway through the third quarter, Wendorf broke loose and scampered 66 yards for another Sparta score, helping Sparta forge a 34-12 advantage with 4:41 left in the frame.
Sparta’s defense stepped to the plate on the next Blugold drive, when Loia Asaeli recovered a fumble on the Aquinas 22-yard line.
Eight plays later, Bryce Edwards scored on a four-yard to give Sparta a 42-12 cushion.
Dalton Mayer came up big for Sparta on the next series, recovering another Blugold fumble that led to a 24-yard touchdown pass from Raymer to Juan Aguilar-Sanchez with 14 seconds left in the third quarter to give Sparta a 50-12 advantage entering the final frame.
Both teams failed to score in the fourth quarter, allowing Sparta to coast to the easy victory.
Wendorf finished with 129 yards on just 11 carries to lead the Spartan offense.