WINNEBAGO — Lutheran High Northeast had more trouble getting to Winnebago than it did during the game.
The Eagles lived through a couple of flat tires and an accident on the road before setting foot on the field here Friday night.
Once on the field, Lutheran High sprinted to a 55-14 lead in the first half and cruised to a 55-22 win in the opening game of the year for the Eagles. Jaxson Kant and Ben Gebhardt each scored four touchdowns to spark the Eagles.
“We did a lot of good things, but we have a lot of work to do,” Lutheran High coach Darin Suckstorf said. “We played very well the first quarter, and then I felt like we let the foot off the gas a little bit.”
With a 35-0 lead after the opening quarter, Lutheran High went up 55-14 at the half.
The Indians started the game with an ill-fated onside kick and one play later, Lutheran High was in the end zone on a 40-yard scamper from Kant. After Kant hit Gebhardt on a conversion pass, the Eagles were up 8-0.
“We were ready for this game,” Kant said. “We have practiced against each other, and it was time to play against someone else.”
After the Eagle touchdown just 12 seconds into the game, the Lutheran High defense produced a three-and-out to get the ball back.
“We did a great job early to take care of the game,” Suckstorf said. “Down the road, we’ll need to keep the heat on.”
Five minutes later, Kant was standing in the end zone after a 14-yard run to make it 14-0, and after Cael Wiederin kicked the extra point, it was 15-0.
“We had things going well early,” Suckstorf said. “We left a lot to work on next week, but I was very happy how we started the game.”
The Lutheran High defense stepped up on the next Bago possession. Kant stepped in front of a Jeriah Greyowl pass and returned it to the end zone to put the Eagles up 21-0 with 5 minutes, 17 seconds to go in the opening quarter after the extra point kick was blocked.
Another three-and-out by the Eagle defense set the offense up at the Winnebago 34.
Trystan Scott ran for 6 yards on first down before Kant hit Gebhardt for 23 yards to give Lutheran High a first down at the Indian 15. Kant took it from there to make it 28-0 after Wiederin made the kick.
“Like I said, we have a lot of things to work on,” Suckstorf said. “I really liked the way we started, but we need to have a sustained effort. We have a lot of great teams left to play. We must get better.”
Another three-and-out by the Eagle defense led to a 62-yard strike from Kant to Gebhardt with 1:09 left in the first quarter, and another kick from Wiederin made it 35-0.
“We know we have work to do,” Kant said. “We have big goals for this year, we want to finish in Lincoln. This is my last year so I am ready to take that step.”
The Indians answered in the second quarter, but the damage was done with a continuous clock for most of the second half after Lutheran High went up 55-14 at the half.
Lutheran High 35 20 0 0 — 55
Winnebago 0 14 0 8 — 22
LHNE: Jaxson Kant 40 run (Ben Gebhardt pass from Kant), 11:48.
LHNE: Kant 14 run (Cael Wiederin kick), 6:01.
LHNE: Kant 10 interception return (Wiederin kick), 5:17.
LHNE: Kant 15 run (Wiederin kick), 3:10.
LHNE: Gebhardt 62 pass from Kant (Wiederin kick).
WINN: Jarius Bass 46 pass from Jeriah Greyowl (PAT failed), 9:54.
LHNE: Gebhardt 65 kickoff return (Wiederin kick), 9:39.
LHNE: Gebhardt 43 pass from Kant (Wiederin kick), 4:06.
WINN: Robbie Lovejoy 12 pass from Greyowl (Javon Price pass from Greyowl), 0:26.
LHNE: Gebhardt 40 pass from Kant (PAT failed), 0:10.
WINN: Price 19 pass from Logan Suarez (Price run), 1:19.