Big plays allowed by its defense and turnovers by its offense cost the Logan High School football team dearly on Friday night.
A lost fumble and a pair of interceptions in the first half put Logan behind, and a dominating performance by the Eau Claire Memorial defensive line sunk the Rangers’ chances of opening their season with a win. The Old Abes held off a late push from Logan to get back into it in the fourth quarter en route to a 35-6 nonconference win in front of an estimated crowd of 750 people at Swanson Field.
Eau Claire Memorial took advantage of three second-quarter turnovers to build its lead. Already holding a 7-0 lead, Old Abes senior Isaac Clark picked off an overthrown pass from Logan quarterback Matt Escher, who was making his first varsity start. Clark’s 17-yard return set up Eau Claire Memorial at Logan’s 23-yard line and the Old Abes needed just four plays to punch in their second score.
Rangers senior CJ Siegel fumbled on the second play of the next possession, and Eau Claire Memorial struck immediately. Senior quarterback Keagan Clachera hit sophomore Calvin Tanner on a post route between the Logan safeties and Tanner did the rest on a 45-yard scoring strike to go up 21-0.
Logan’s offense was shaky from the start. It took until their sixth possession for the Rangers to tally a first down, and they finished the first half with 49 yards of total offense.
Down 28-6, the Rangers recovered a fumble about midway through the fourth quarter and had a last-gasp chance to get back into the game, but three consecutive sacks by the Old Abes pushed Logan back 24 yards and ended that threat.
A dozen of the Rangers’ rushing attempts were stopped for a loss, as the Eau Claire Memorial defensive line cut through the line and gave Escher no time to get set up in the pocket.
“Their loaded at those spots (defensive line). It allowed their linebackers to run free. That kid (Cormac Sampson), who is going to Wisconsin, was as advertised,” Logan coach Casey Knoble said.
Eau Claire quarterback Keagan Calchera was effective avoiding pressure all night against Logan’s front. He broke free from a would-be sack, rolled to his right and then lofted a 40-yard touchdown pass to Tanner, who had settled in behind the defense.
The Rangers got a boost when Siegel returned a punt 66 yards and set the offense up with the ball in the red zone in the third quarter. Siegel cut down the left side of the field and had one defender to beat. He cut back inside but tripped at about the 15. Logan scored four plays later when Escher found senior Gunnar Parcher on a quick pass from 5 yards out.
Siegel, a NCAA Division I North Dakota recruit, finished with 57 yards on four catches. Logan was without senior running back and linebacker Malik Brown, who was out with an injury. Overall, Logan was playing without six starters, all of whom Knoble expects to have back next week.
There was a scary moment near the end of the first half, when Logan senior and team captain Ambrose Metz-Beard caught a screen pass and was hit hard in the back. The teams agreed to let the final 19 seconds of the half run out, as Metz-Beard was on the ground surrounded by athletic trainers, coaches and his parents for nearly 20 minutes. He eventually stood up on his own to lay down on the stretcher that took him to a local hospital.