On Thursday, the Region 4 football matchup between Shiloh Christian and New Salem-Almont had all the makings of a battle between regional contenders. By Friday night, it had become a victim of this strange season.
Shiloh’s Braiden Kuehn ran for 159 yards and four touchdown as the Skyhawks wore down a depleted Holsteins team 35-14.
Kuehn scored on runs of 53, 73, 8 and 7 yards.
“He had a nice game last week and picked up where he left off,” Shiloh coach Funnon Barker said. “We saw some things we felt we could take advantage of and the kids executed well.”
The fact that it was tied 14-14 after three quarters was a minor miracle considering what had transpired in New Salem in the previous 24 hours. The Holsteins found out Thursday that they would not have three starters, two linemen and their starting quarterback for the game.
Head coach Steve Kleinjan moved a tight end to tackle and put freshman Ethan Maier behind center for the first time ever.
“The difficult part about this was we didn’t find out about this till (Thursday) night after practice. There wasn’t any time to prepare,” Kleinjan said.
While the Holsteins offense struggled the entire game, their defense was up to the task through three quarters.
“New Salem prides itself on being a tough, physical, defensive team and coach Kleinjan coaches those guys up very well,” Barker said. “They were missing a couple guys and those guys played very well.”
Seven of Shiloh’s 16 first-half carries went for negative yards and the Skyhawks ended the first half with just 48 yards. Kuehn had 70 yards at the break with 53 of those coming on the only score of the half.
After a first quarter that featured minus-9 yards of offense by the Holsteins and nine yards by the Skyhawks, Kuehn broke loose on the fifth play of the second quarter.
Kuehn took a handoff up the middle and broke loose into the secondary where he made two sharp cuts and raced into the end zone. The PAT kick failed and that 6-0 score was the way the half ended.
NSA was held without a first down and mustered minus-3 yards offense in the first two quarters. It ended with 103 yards total.
Shiloh started a promising drive late in the half and picked up a couple of first downs to the NSA 43-yard line. But the drive disintegrated under two big penalties, two incomplete passes and two sacks. It had to punt on fourth-and-40 with 35 seconds left, and the Holsteins took a knee to bring the half to a end.
Shiloh's woes continued into the third quarter when an interception and 30-yard return by Kuehn led to an NSA goal-line stand and a missed 17-yard field goal.
A quick exchange of scores left the game tied at 14-14.
First, the Holsteins came out in a shotgun formation and immediately marched 80 yards in six plays for a score. Caleb Feland, who ran for 65 yards, broke a 41-yard run and capped the drive with a 5-yard TD run, but the PAT pass failed.
Three minutes later, Grant Gerving scooped up a Josh Kolling fumble and returned it 88 yards up the sideline. Jaden Selzler added the PAT run and it was 14-6 NSA, for a moment anyway.
On Shiloh’s first play after the kickoff, Kuehn took a handoff, made one cut through the line and ran untouched 73 yards for the score. Kolling found Isaac Emmel for the PAT and a tie with 1:53 left in the quarter.
A blocked punt by Shiloh’s Trent Radenz set the tone for the 21-point fourth quarter. The block led to Kuehn's 8-yard run with 7:06 left.
Back-to-back fumbles on third and fourth down on NSA’s next possession turned into a 6-yard Isaac Emmel run and an onside kick resulted in Kuehn’s 7-yard run with 1:03 left.
Kolling was 10-for-19 for 135 yards passing. Maier completed 2 of 5 attempts. Both were intercepted once.
Kuehn added five catches for 77 yards.
“I’m proud of the way the kids played. They gave a great effort,” Kleinjan said. “I’m not disappointed at all. It was 14-14 in the fourth quarter, we gave ourselves a chance to be in the game. I’m happy the way they came together as a team in an adverse situation.”
Reach Tribune sports editor Dave Selvig at (701) 250-8246 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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