LEIPSIC – The field was muddy and the rain was coming down sideways in the first half.
That meant it was “perfect” weather for the Leipsic passing game to post a 26-14 victory over Allen East in the Northwest Conference Friday at Leipsic.
In the first half, Leipsic mixed in a short, accurate passing game with its running attack.
The result was 20 unanswered points in the first half, as Leipsic took a 20-7 first half-lead.
“Our goal is to be as balanced as we can,” Leipsic coach Joe Kirkendall said. “I love my wide receivers, but it was tough tonight because it was wet and the footing wasn’t great. We couldn’t be as explosive, but we did enough to make some plays and the threat of that (passing) early, kept us running the football.’’
Leipsic is 6-3, 5-1 in the Northwest Conference. Allen East is 6-3, 4-2 in the NWC.
Columbus Grove entered Friday atop the NWC at 5-0.
Leipsic quarterback Dillan Niese completed 12 of 21 for 118 yards and one TD.
“When we get the good mixture of running and passing, it makes so they don’t know what’s coming,” Niese said.
On the ground, the Vikings featured Hayden Hiegel, who had 24 carries for 103 yards and one TD.
Leipsic’s Trent Siefker had six catches for 52 yards.
For Allen East, Jacob Hershberger had 19 carries for 75 yards. In the air, he completed 10 of 22 for 86 yards.
Sophomore Jack Hoel had 11 carries for 94 yards for Allen East.
Allen East led 7-6 after the first quarter, but the Vikings controlled the second quarter and led 20-7 at the half.
The Mustangs scored on their first possession with a seven-play, 71-yard drive.
Jack Hoel went through a big hole and ripped off a 16-yard TD run to give Allen East a 7-0 lead. That came with 7:50 left in the first quarter.
“They ran over us on that drive,” Kirkendall said. “I like the way we dug in and responded. We made some plays.’’
From there, the first half belonged to the Vikings with a rushing game which featured Hiegel and the passing right arm of Niese.
Leipsic went 62 yards in eight plays for a score to get within 7-6.
Niese hit Trent Siefker for 19 and hit Quin Schroeder for 15 on the drive.
“The field was all wet and we had them going backwards and they were slipping,” Niese said. “We made an emphasis on staying up (on the turf).’’
Fabian Pena scored on a 3-yard run to make it 7-6 Allen East with 3:35 left in the first quarter.
On Allen East’s next drive, the Vikings’ Siefker picked off a Jacob Hershberger pass at the Vikings’ 35 and returned it to the Allen East 27.
From there, it took Leipsic seven plays to travel 27 yards for the TD.
Niese hit Siefker on a 5-yard slant to take the ball to the Mustangs’ 10.
Two plays later, Hiegel ran it in from the 3 for the TD. With the two-point conversion, the Vikings led 14-7 with 11:21 before halftime.
The Vikings made it 20-7 with 19 seconds left in the half on a 7-yard slant pass in the heart of the end zone from Niese to Schroeder.
That capped a seven-play, 64-yard drive.
At the half, Niese completed 8 of 13 passes for 86 yard. Hiegel had 13 carries for 61 yards.
For Allen East, sophomore Hoel had eight carries for 83 yards.
Allen East got within 20-14 on a 12-yard TD pass from Hershberger to Garrett Newland with 9:28 left in the third.
Then, with Allen East still trailing 20-14, on the first play of the fourth quarter, the Mustangs went for it on fourth-and-1 at their own 14.
Hershberger kept the ball on the play and was stood up for no gain by the entire Vikings’ defense.
Two plays later, Leipsic covered the 14 yards for the score.
Hiegel scored on a 5-yard TD run to give Leipsic a 26-14 lead with 10:57 to go.
Leipsic’s defense sealed the win with two late sacks by Pena.
“We’ve played really good defense, but we’ve had a quarter a game when we imploded and tonight we didn’t Kirkendall said.
Kirkendall added that’s been a battle every Friday night in the team’s first year in the NWC.
“It’s a big time learning curve,” Kirkendall said.
Added Niese, “It’s definitely an adjustment. We have to stay in it the entire game. There are no running clock games. You have to play two halves of football. … It’s a good thing we’re playing better teams.’’
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