AuGres-Sims puts on offensive clinic in win over Hale
HALE — If AuGres-Sims quarterback Alex Lutz had to sell Hale coach Bill Lake on his ability, he did a pretty good job of it.
Lutz threw for 290 yards and four touchdowns in the first half, then rushed for 99 yards and two more scores in the second half to lead the Wolverines to a 41-24 North Star League victory over the Eagles on Friday, ending Hale's playoff hopes and keeping AuGres' post-season chances alive. Lutz finished with a school-record 332 yards on 22-of-41 passing, and also broke the school record for passing yards in a season.
"Wow, was he impressive," Lake said. "I didn't think our coverage was that bad. So often he'd just throw the ball to the one spot where either his receivers would catch it, or no one would.
"And his receivers made some nice catches."
AGS ran the ball on just six of 31 plays in the first half as the Wolverines' pass-happy spread offense thrived. Lutz was 16-of-25 before the half, completing nine passes for 20 or more yards. Whether throwing short on crossing patterns across the middle, or deep faces, nearly everything worked for Lutz and his receiving corps of Kyle Gingerich, Chad Taylor, Travis Byard and Colton Liddell.
Three fumbles and a muffed kickoff return kept the Wolverines from doing even more damage.
AuGres-Sims coach Dr. Scott McAlindon credited assistant coach Chad Zeien -- a former head coach at both AGS and Whittemore-Prescott -- for the Wolverines' ability to make the transition to the spread offense in one season.
"What a blessing to have Coach Zeien join us," McAlindon said. "We had planned to go to the spread this year anyway just because of the personnel we had, but his expertise with that offense has been invaluable. He's done stuff with routes, alignments and helping Alex that probably would have taken us a lot longer to get down.
"And I give Alex a lot of credit too. He's really turned into a leader -- he's not real vocal, but his confidence is rubbing off on the other kids."
The Wolverines scored first despite committing two turnovers in the first five minutes of the game. AGS mishandled Hale's pooch kick-off but stopped the Eagles' first possession, then moved swiftly downfield only to have Hale's Devin Leidecker pick off Lutz at the goalline.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, they fumbled the ball on the next play, and Lutz connected with Chad Taylor for an 8-yard scoring pass to get AGS on the board.
Hale responded with a textbook Wing-T drive, running nine times and sprinkling in a 20-yard Drew Compau-to-Eddy Cadwell pass that set up Compau's 7-yard run with 1:04 left in the first quarter.
The Wolverines had their next drive end with a fumble inside the 1-yard line, but the Eagles couldn't dig out of their own end of the field. It took just one play -- Byard's 25-yard catch-and-run from Lutz -- to put AGS up 14-7.
"We were able to move the ball offensively," Lake said. "We saw some things we could do passing the ball, but we weren't able to make them pay for their mistakes enough."
The final two minutes of the half got wild. Kyle Gingerich scored on a 25-yard strike from Lutz with 2:08 left, but Hale's Christian Mudry made it a one-play drive for the Eagles, catching a 15-yard slant from Compau and racing untouched to the end zone to make it 21-12.
The 1:52 left on the clock proved to be plenty of time for the Wolverines, who moved 60 yards on five plays, including Gingerich's bobbling, diving grab that capped the drive with a 28-yard score and a 27-12 lead halftime lead.
Compau, crowned Homecoming King at halftime, got Hale back in the game early in the second half with a 53-yard, fourth-down run on the Eagles' first possession of the second half.
The Wolverines again fumbled away a scoring opportunity on their next drive, this time losing the ball in the end zone, but Hale fumbled the ball back to the Wolverines on the next play, setting up Lutz's 18-yard scoring run that gave AGS some breathing room.
Lutz added a 7-yard run in the fourth quarter that made it 41-18, and Compau and Mudry hooked up on another long scoring play -- 62 yards this time -- for the final score.
Compau finished with 169 yards on 6-of-17 passing and led the Eagles with 61 yards on six rushes. Christian Moody added 41 yards on 15 rushes and Cadwell had 43 yards on six tries. Mudry's two catches went for 125 yards, and Steven Barens had a pair of 50-yard kickoff returns.
Leidecker, Mudry and Cody Stoll were each in on 14 total tackles to lead the Hale defense.
The loss dropped Hale to 2-4 (1-2 NSL) and likely eliminates the Eagles from playoff contention, but Lake was pleased with his team's effort.
"The kids have nothing to be ashamed of," he said. "We ran into a very good quarterback who was right on, and we just came up short."
Lutz finished with 108 rushing yards on 17 carries. Gingerich finished with 97 yard on six pass receptions, Byard had 90 yards on seven grabs, Taylor added 79 yards on three catches and Liddell had 66 yards on three receptions.
Zach Dieleman had seven tackles and five assists, Nathan Trapp added six tackles and two assists, Kyle Shanks added six tackles and two assists to lead the defense.
The victory sets the Wolverines (4-2, 3-1) up for a showdown with Mio (4-2, 4-0) on Friday, Oct. 10. An AuGres-Sims win means a possible three-way tie for the league title with the Thunderbolts and Hillman, which happened last year as well.
McAlindon said he wouldn't be surprised at a similar type of game, scoring-wise, as last season's 49-48 overtime victory.
"We're in the same spot as last year," he said. "It could easily be a track meet again."