By Chris Bennett

Sports correspondent

It was a night of missed opportunities and bad bounces for the Elkhorn Area High School football team Sept. 15 in a Southern Lakes Conference game at Wilmot.

The Elks lost 36-0 to the Panthers in a game coach Tom Lee said is closer than the final score indicates.

The Elks (1-4, 0-3 SLC) play a SLC game at home tonight against Waterford. Elkhorn must win its remaining four conference games to be eligible for the WIAA Division 3 playoffs.

“For some reason, right now, whether the ball isn’t bouncing the right way, we’re missing opportunities,” Lee said. “The score, although it was 36-0, it isn’t indicative of what happened in the first half.”

Wilmot led 16-0 going into halftime. Lee said the Elks should have put 14 or even 21 points on the scoreboard in the first half.

Lee said the Elks forced two fumbles in the first half. One could have been an opportunity to scoop and score, but the Elks instead fell on the ball and retained possession.

Lee said the ball took a funny bounce, and the Elks instead fell on it. Elkhorn was looking at an open field and a caravan of blockers if they could have recovered.

Later in the half, the Elks caused another fumble, but a fortuitous bounce ensured the Panthers retained possession.

Elkhorn also struggled to break loose on offense in the first half. Lee said quarterback Braeden Mohr and receiver Colton Loomis failed to connect on a play where Loomis was open.

Lee said Mohr and Loomis left yards on the field on a 39-yard completion in which the ball – uncharacteristic of Mohr – floated.

Lee said James Welsh got caught on a jet sweep in the first half with plenty of room to run, which demonstrated Wilmot’s superiority in team speed.

“We had an opportunity to, possibly, score 14 or 21 points in the first half,” Lee said. “Now, instead of 16-0, we’re talking trailing 16-14 or even leading 21-14.”

The Elks opened their first possession of the second half on the 4-yard line after a kickoff that bounced Wilmot’s way.

Mohr and receiver Nick Rockweiler failed to connect on a play-action pass after Rockweiler beat his man, a play Lee said he thought was a certain touchdown.

Wilmot intercepted Elkhorn and scored on a pick-six later on the same drive.

Wilmot scored on another pick-six on the drive following the ensuing kickoff, but the play was nullified due to a penalty. The Panthers scored on the possession, and took a 30-0 lead.

“In the blink of an eye – two possessions – now we’re in a position where it’s really tough to come back,” Lee said. “We have to find ways to take advantage of our opportunities. Our kids are playing hard.”

 
 

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