Football: Packers finish off Cougars

Published 10:54 pm Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Austin football team closed out its regular season with a dominant performance on both sides of the ball as it beat Mankato East 39-7 in Art Hass Stadium Wednesday.

The Packers (4-4 overall, 4-4 Big Nine) scored on six of their first seven possessions of the game and they held the Cougars to just 216 yards of offense, while racking up six sacks and two interceptions.

“We came in here confident and we played great,” Austin senior Ethan Horstmann said. “We went out with a bang.”

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Austin quarterback Ryan Synoground was highly efficient for the Packers as he completed 11-of-14 for 187 yards and two scores, while running for 118 yards and two TDs.

“(Ryan) takes a constant riding from me. There’s a lot of pressure on him from me and he’s doing good. He’s doing what he needs to do,” Austin head coach Brett Vesel said. “I thought we played great on offense and defense. Special teams were pretty good too.”

Gabe Gerstner and Tony Baudler each had two sacks for Austin, which put pressure on Mankato East quarterback Nick Seiler throughout the night.

The Packers didn’t have much trouble adjusting to East’s offense as the Cougars (1-7 overall, 1-7 Big Nine) ran the same spread style that Austin runs.

“They run basically the same offense as us, so it was pretty easy to catch on,” Austin linebacker Elijah Dahmen said. “We go against that every day in practice and it was like playing ourselves.”

The Packers took a 19-7 lead when Nate Conner scored on a 3-yard TD run with eight minutes left in the first half. The Cougars marched the ball deep in Austin territory before Ethan Horstmann picked off a pass, just moments after he had dropped an interception.

It was Horstmann’s first career interception.

“God gave me a second chance on that one. I dropped the first one and he gave me another one and I got it,” Hortsmann said. “We had a couple of blown coverages and missed assignments tonight, but I’m so confident in the ability of our team to stop them and force turnovers.”

After Horstmann’s pick-off, the Packers marched 70 yards in 11 plays and Cory Hepler scored on a one-yard TD run.

Vesel said Austin’s offense and defense are learning to compliment each other, instead of getting after each other when things aren’t going so well.

“I think sometimes last year we’d get down if one side didn’t do good,” Vesel said. “This year, they’re playing independently (on offense and defense) and doing the best they can.”

Austin finishes the season with a .500 record for the first time since 2004 and they finished in sixth place in the Big Nine Conference.

The Packers will play at Faribault (5-3 overall) in the first round of the Section 1AAAAA tournament Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Falcons beat the Packers 35-21 Aug. 30.


Rushing: Ryan Synoground, 12-for-118, 2 TD; Nate Conner, 14-for-63, TD; Brandon Edgar, 5-for-40; Cory Hepler, 8-for-34, TD; passing: Synoground, 11-for-14, 187 2 TD, Conner, 2-for-3, 24; receiving: Zach Wessels, 6-for-101, TD; Bret Lukes, 5-for-100, TD; Nik Gasner, 2-for-20; sacks: Gabe Gerstner (2); Tony Baudler (2); James Trevino (1); Ethan Horstmann (1); interceptions: Conner Sheehan (1); Horstmann (1); penalties: 13-for-93


Rushing: 109; passing: 107; penalties; 3-for-30


East 0 7 0 0 — 7

Austin 12 13 7 7 — 39

First quarter

(A) Wessels 16 pass from Synoground (kick failed) (7 plays, 68 yards) 8:59

(A) Synoground 20 run (pass failed) (10 plays, 85 yards) 2:05

Second period

(M) Nic Seiler 6 run (Brink kick) (9 plays, 68 yards) 10:48

(A) Conner 3 run (Wessels kick) (7 plays, 72 yards) 8:00

(A) Hepler 1 run (run failed) (11 plays, 70 yards) 0:54

Third quarter

(A) Synoground 1 run (Wessels kick) (3 plays, 36 yards) 11:07

Fourth quarter

(A) Lukes 41 pass from Synground (Wessels kick) (7 plays, 74 yards) 8:50