Football: Packers hold off the Tigers

ALBERT LEA — The Packer football team started exactly how it wanted, but its finish left a little to be desired as Austin held off Albert Lea 37-25 in AL Friday.

It was Austin’s first win over the Tigers (0-7 overall, 0-7 Big Nine) in seven years, but the Packers had to sit tight in the fourth quarter as AL posted 18 straight points in a nine-minute stretch.

“It’s huge beating Albert Lea,” Austin defensive end Gabe Gerstner said. “They’re our biggest rivals and I was looking forward to this game all season. It’s an ugly win, but it’s a win. I think we got a little overconfident and we underestimated them a little and that’s the one thing we knew we couldn’t do.”

AL recovered an onside pick and picked off an Austin pass in the second half. The Tigers also converted on two fake punts for first downs on the night.

“We did some good things in the first half,” Austin head coach Brett Vesel said. “In the second half bad snaps kind of screwed up some of our drives and we had a couple of bad plays. You’re doing good and then all of the sudden a snap goes over your head or you get a dumb penalty and it messes with the flow.”

Austin (3-4 overall, 3-4 Big Nine) took control of the game early on as the Packers jumped out to a 28-0 lead in the first half. Nate Conner, who ran for 121 yards and two scores, led Austin’s early surge.

The Tigers took a little momentum to the break when Jacob Kilby hauled in a 47-yard TD pass with 20 seconds left in the half to make it 28-7 and Austin’s only scoring in the third quarter came on a safety when AL snapped the ball out of the end zone.

Gerstner led the Austin defense, which dominated for most of the first three quarters as he tallied three sacks and he added a couple of tackles for a loss.

“I love getting hits and I love hitting as much as I can even if it’s not my tackle,” Gerstner said. “Gang tackling is what we’re all about.”

AL focused its defense on Austin wide receiver Zach Wessels and Bret Lukes took advantage of it. Lukes hauled in a big 35-yard TD pass from Ryan Synoground to put Austin up 37-7 with 11:40 left in the game and he finished the night with six catches for 115 yards.

“It’s just what we read,” Lukes said. “The defense was opening up for me and I took advantage of it. (Wessels) opens up a lot of things for me and he still had a good game.

AL was missing a few players in its loss to Owatonna last Friday, but those players were back in action Friday. AL head coach Max Jeffery credited the toughness of his team as tight end Cody Scherff played with a fractured ankle against the Packers.

“We aren’t holding guys out on purpose. We don’t do that,” Jeffery said. “We’ve got courage and we’ve got guys that are willing to go out and play, even when they’re injured.”

With the win, the Packers have now won more games this season as they had in the previous three seasons combined.


Rushing: Nate Conner, 20-for-121, 2 TDs; Ryan Snyoground, 11-for-37; Corey Hepler, 5-for-21, TD; Brandon Edgar, 3-for-13; Sean Coffey, 1-for-1; passing: Synoground, 10-for-21, 166, TD, INT; Conner, 1-for-1, 0; receiving: Bret Lukes, 6-for-115, TD; Zach Wessels, 4-for-38; Nik Gasner, 1-for-13; sacks: Gabe Gerstner (3); Logan Hotek (1); James Trevino (1); fumble recoveries: Nick Baier (1); blocked kick: Connor Sheehan (1); penalties: 10-for-100


Rush: 173; passing: 161; penalties: 11-for-83


Austin 7 21 2 7 — 37

AL 0 7 0 18 — 25

First quarter

(A) Cory Hepler 2 run (Wessels kick) (9 plays, 71 yards) 3:55

Second quarter

(A) Nate Conner 6 run (Wessels kick) (9 plays, 64 yards) 9:13

(A) Conner 5 run (Wessels kick) (3 plays, 13 yards) 8:11

(A) Ryan Synoground 5 run (Wessels kick) (6 plays, 72 yards) 4:12

(AL) Jakob Kilby 47 pass from Triston Westerlund (Furland kick) (1 plays, 47 yards) :20.6

Third quarter

(A) safety 2:17

Fourth quarter

(A) Bret Lukes (Wessels kick) (1 plays, 35 yards) 11:40

(AL) Chris Enderson 5 pass from Westerlund (run failed) (8 plays, 64 yards) 9:10

(AL) Westerlund 27 run (pass failed) (7 plays, 81 yards) 4:16

(AL) Westerlund 3 run (pass failed) (10 plays, 50 yards) 1:49





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