Packers feast on Cougars in Homecoming win

Published 11:17 pm Friday, October 3, 2008

A fresh approach went a long way for the Packer football team as it rolled over Mankato East 38-21 in its homecoming game Friday at Art Hass Stadium.

At the start of this past week, Austin head coach Tim Hermann had his squad focus on the rest of the year as a new season.

The opening week of that new season delivered some promising results as the Packers (2-4 overall, 1-4 Big Nine) scored on four of their first five possessions to take a commanding lead early on.

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“We didn’t think of any of the games before this. It was just a great job by coach Hermann by making it a new season. We came out like we never played before and we just dominated,” Austin wide receiver Jamaal Gibson said.

The Packers rode the legs of Jerrad Ryks, who racked up a season-high 220 yards rushing in the win. Ryks capped off a 26-yard first quarter drive with a four-yard scoring run and he added a two more short distance runs to put Austin up 21-0 late in the second quarter.

“The holes I had were amazing, it was wide open and the line just drew back everybody,” Ryks said.

All three of Austin’s first half touchdowns came on short fields after turnovers by the Cougars (1-5 overall, 0-4 Big Nine). Mankato East botched a hand-off on its first possession, was stopped on a fake punt on its second set of downs, and it fumbled again on its third possession.

But the Cougars did have one big drive in the first half, when they drove 61 yards in just over a minute to make it 21-7 with 1:07 left in the first half on a nine-yard TD pass from Eric Banesh to Zach Miller. The drive was triggered by a 15-yard personal foul penalty on Austin and a pass interference call on Austin that negated a Justin Maxfield interception.

Austin responded with a quick drive to set up Matt Mueller for 27-yard field goal to give Austin momentum at half-time.

Unfortunately for Austin, Mueller, who took over plackicking duties last week, left the game with an injury, as did Austin quarterback Nate Justice.

“I told the kids they’ve got to enjoy the victory. It feels good, but we had some injuries and we might have to shore some places up,” Austin head coach Tim Hermann said.

On the bright side, Austin High School’s homecoming king Justin Yerhot led a strong blocking front that bursted Ryks to three carries of over 15 yards in the second half.

“We started noticing a lot about their defense. We started running to the outside on those powers because they were plugging the inside. We were watching the whole time,” Yerhot said.

Late in the third quarter Ryks scored his fourth TD of the night when he shed a Cougar defender and ran the rest of the way untouched on a 41-yard scoring run.

“He grabbed me and then I just spun around and when I turned around it was wide open. It feels good and it’s all about the line,” Ryks said.

The Packers offensive line had notable a size advantage on the smaller Cougars.

“On our first series I said it’s gonna happen,” Yerhot said. “I pancaked that guy (lined up on me) a lot. I do what I can for my Jerrad.”

Gibson got in the scoring column late in the game, when he broke off a 12-yard TD run on an end-around.

“It was nice to get a rushing touchdown, it was a huge hole. The offensive line and receivers did a great job of blocking,” he said.

Gibson said the Packers were pumped up from the opening kickoff to get a homecoming win.

“When we looked up and saw how many people were in the stands, we wanted it bad,” he said.

Besides the injuries to Justice and Mueller, Ryks also had to ice down his elbow before the game ended. The junior back said it’s not serious; his elbow was just sore and he hit it a couple of times during the game.


Austin rushing: Jerrad Ryks, 26-for-220, 4 TD; Nate Jutice, 11-for-43; Jamaal Gibson, 1-for-12, TD; Jesse Barker, 3-for-3

Austin passing: Nate Justice, 9-for-14, 81

Austin receiving: Gibson, 4-for-48; Marcus Gunderson, 2-for-19; Barker, 1-for-8; Dan Collier, 1-for-6; Ryks, 1-for-0

Fumble recoveries: Mike Hirsch, Matt Mueller

Penalties: 3-for-34

Mankato East rushing: Kenthen King, 20-for-77, TD; Jordan Benesh, 7-for-42; Nick Ackerman, 7-for-36

Mankato East passing: Banesh, 11-for-123, TD

Mankato East receiving: Zach Miller, 3-for-52; Travis Enter, 2-for-28; Jon Kearney, 2-for-23; King, 2-for-8; Nate Roberts, 1-for-8; Ackerman, 1-for-4

Penalties: 9-for-80


East 0 7 0 14 — 21

Austin 7 17 6 8 — 38

First quarter

(A) 6:37 Ryks 4 run (Matt Mueller kick) 4 plays, 26 yards

Second quarter

(A) 8:48 Ryks 2 run (Mueller kick) 10 plays, 59 yards

(A) 2:40 Ryks 12 run (Mueller kick) 9 plays, 58 yards

(E) 1:07 Miller 9 pass from Banesh (Miller kick) 6 plays, 61 yards

(A) :02 Mueller 27 field goal, 7 plays, 60 yards

Third quarter

(A) 1:16 Ryks 41 run (kick failed) 9 plays, 81 yards

Fourth quarter

(E) 8:21 King 1 run (run failed) 11 plays, 73 yards

(A) 5:12 Gibson 12 run (Barker run) 8 plays, 70 yards

(E) 1:53 Ackerman 9 run (Banesh to Ackerman) 6 plays, 64 yards