Slow second half stymies football team

by JOHN PAUL SCHALLER
Sports Editor
 
Sparta got off to a fast start in Friday’s Mississippi Valley Conference grid opener, but failed to score in the second half of a 31-14 loss to La Crosse Logan.
After exchanging punts with Logan to open the first quarter, Sparta drew first blood with an 11-play, 68-yard scoring drive.
Spartan quarterback Jaret Sullivan completed passes to Sirrus Bier, Caleb Schauf and Jasiah Scott, before Scott scored on a three-yard run.
Ryan Wisniewski booted the extra point to put Sparta on top 7-0 with 4:43 remaining in the quarter.
The Rangers answered after a long kick-off return, scoring on a 10-yard run by Jack Hi to knot the score at 7-7 entering the second quarter.
With 3:44 left in the half, Logan’s Nate Weisbrod scored on an 11-yard run, giving the Rangers their first lead of the game at 14-7.
This time Sparta answered, rattling off a seven-play, 67-yard scoring drive to tie the game at 14-14.
Sullivan connected with Bier on a 32-yard pass and Wisniewski on a 16-yard pass during the scoring drive, which was capped off on a nine-yard touchdown run by Bier.
With just over a minute left in the half, the Rangers managed to drive deep into Spartan territory and kick a 22-yard field goal with five seconds remaining in the stanza to take a 17-14 lead into the half.
It was all Logan in the second half, as the Rangers scored a pair of unanswered touchdowns to pull away for the win.
Logan’s first score came late in the third quarter, when Manny Buckhanan scored on an 11-yard run to put the Rangers on top 24-14.
Less than five minutes into the fourth quarter Logan’s Tanner Holzer scored on a six-yard run to give the Rangers a 31-14 cushion.
Sparta finished with 239 yards on offense, including 105 in the ground and 133 through the air, while the Rangers racked up 360 yards rushing and 129 yards passing for a total of 489.
Sullivan was solid through the air, completing 12 of 21 passes for 133 yards.
Sullivan led Sparta on the ground as well, carrying the ball 11 times for 34 yards.
Wisniewski hauled in five passes for 46 yards, while Bier finished with two catches for 43 yards,
Sparta fell to 0-1 in MVC action and 0-3 overall with the loss, while the Rangers improved their record to 1-0 in league play and 2-1 overall.
The Spartan gridders are back in action Friday, when they travel to La Crosse to battle Central in a 7 p.m. MVC game at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

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