Spieker, Cougars end Fremont-Mills’ season
ANITA - The game plan was simple.
Run the ball, control the clock, and keep the ball out of the hands of Cumberland-Anita-Messina quarterback Lane Spieker.
And for a half, it worked.
Fremont-Mills dominated the time of possession, limited C-A-M to 25 offensive snaps and led 12-8 over the top ranked Cougars at the half. But Spieker and his teammates would adjust at halftime, explode for 32 straight second half points and go on to win the Eight-player second round match 46-20 Friday in Anita.
Fremont-Mills coach Jeremy Christiansen said the game plan was designed to slow Spieker, the state’s leading rusher, but it was also a response to the Knight’s season-opening 48-6 loss to the same Cougars and the late season emergenc of his team’s own run game.
“I think we’ve evolved offensively with our blocking and our run scheme and our haymaker was to not let them have as many touches (offensively),” he said. “It worked for a little while.”
After both teams were turned away on their opening drives, the Knights took over on their own 10-yard-line and drove 70 yards in nine plays to get on the board first with a Braxton Blackburn 13-yard TD scamper. They would miss the two-point conversion but the Knights ate up nearly nine minutes of the opening quarter, huddling after every play and waiting to snap the ball until five seconds remained on the play clock.
It would take the Cougars just under two minutes to answer. With Spieker running the ball on five of six plays, he darted into the endzone from four yards out to cap a six-play, 44 yard answer. They would connect on the two-point conversion to take an 8-6 lead.
A brief lead, it would turn out.
Three plays later, Jake Malcom would connect with Taylor Reed on 45-yard TD toss to put the Knights back out in front. F-M missed the two-point conversion once again but led 12-8 heading into halftime.
The second half would tell another story.
The Cougars needed just two plays to take the lead back to open the third quarter. Spieker hooked up with Colby Rich for a 49-yard TD and then the quarterback came up big on defense, picking off a Malcom pass. On the very next play, Spieker raced into the endzone from 36 yards out and added the two-point conversion to make it 22-12 with 5:41 to go in the third frame.
After forcing a Knights’ punt on the ensuing possession, Spieker once again called his own number and scored from four yards out to cap a grueling, nine-play, 56-yard TD drive to put the Cougars ahead 28-12 with 9:22 to go in the game.
The Knights appeared poised to answer, driving down to the C-A-M 16-yard line but a pair of penalties and back -to-back incompletions ended the threat.
Two plays later, Spieker ran it in from 36 yards out to make it 34-12.
That momentum flip from potentially cutting the lead in half to a 22 point deficit was a momentum killer for his team, Christiansen said.
“That was a very big turnaround,” Christiansen said. “There were a couple things I thought we were very close on multiple times and we just didn’t get it. That’s football.”
The running lanes the Knights found early in the game narrowed in the second half with C-A-M sliding an extra-defender into the box defensively.
“They definitely made an adjustment on us,” he said. “I thought we made some adjustments, we just didn’t get to them quite as soon as we needed to. I think its one of those things where sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.”
The Knights picked up a touchdown late when Malcom again connected with Reed, this time for 13 yards out.
Spieker added touchdown runs of 31 and 57 to close out the game on a night he ran for 327 yards and six scores and passed for 196 yards and a TD.
Despite Spieker’s big night, Christiansen thought his team did a decent job making the all-stater work for his yards early.
“The game plan defensively was to sit at his feet and I thought we did the first half; I don’t know what his stats were and it doesn’t matter but I know at halftime they weren’t normal for him and he got some big runs later. Their guys were working hard up front just like our guys and at some points it works.”
Of Spieker’s 327 yards rushing, 226 came after halftime.
The Knights finished with 310 total yards, including 160 on the ground.
Fremont-Mills closes its season with a record of 6-4. In all, eight seniors took the field for the last time Friday.
“This was probably the toughest schedule we’ve ever had and they’ve done a great job in the weight room and in practice and we’re going to miss them, there’s no doubt about it,” Christiansen said. “They’ve had a great career.”
C-A-M (10-0) will play Newell-Fonda (9-1) in Thursday’s Eight-player quarterfinals.
FM 06 06 00 08 20
CAM 00 08 14 24 46
FM - Braxton Blackburn, 13 run (two-point conversion failed).
CAM – Lane Spieker, 4 run (two-point conversion good).
FM – Jake Malcom to Taylor Reed, 45 pass (two-point conversion failed).
CAM – Spieker to Colby Rich, 49 pass (two-point conversion failed).
CAM – Spieker, 38 run (two-point conversion good).
CAM – Spieker, 4 run (two-point conversion failed).
CAM – Spieker, 36 run (two-point conversion failed).
CAM – Spieker, 31 run (two-point conversion failed).
FM – Malcom to Reed, 13 pass (two-point conversion good).
CAM – Spieker, 57 run (two-point co