Austin Packers football team rolls by Albert Lea 63-6 in regular season finale

The Austin Packers football team was looking to close out the regular season with a win at home versus I-90 rival Albert Lea Wednesday evening, and on Senior night, the Packers recovered a suprise onsides kick to open the game and never looked back from there as they cruised to a 63-6 win.

After Austin’s kickoff return team recovered the suprise onsides kick from the Tigers at midfield, two plays later, senior quarterback Jack Lang round senior wide receiver and cornerback Manny Guy behind the Albert Lea defense down the left side of the field for a 36-yard touchdown pass and a quick 7-0 Packer lead after kicker Joe Ewing’s extra point.

Austin’s 3-4 defense established its dominance on Albert Lea’s first drive as starting from their own 20, the Tigers were forced into a three-and-out, punting the ball to Austin with the Packers taking over at their own 43.  The Albert Lea defense forced a punt after four plays, but starting from their own 27-yard line, the Tigers were forced into another three-and-out, and Austin took over after a punt at their own 28.  A 59-yard pass from Lang to Guy quickly moved the ball to the Tiger 13, and on the next play, senior running back Tommy Fritz ran into the end zone to give the Packers a 14-0 lead.

Albert Lea took over on their own 30 after the ensuing kickoff, but the Austin defense stopped the Tiger offense cold once again, and after yet another Albert Lea punt, the Packers would start their first of eight drives that began in Tiger territory in the game  at the Albert Lea 46.  On the first play of the drive, Lang found Fritz wide open down the seam on the right side of the field for a 46-yard touchdown pass and a 21-0 Austin lead.

Things went from bad to worse for Albert Lea on their ensuing drive as starting from their 20, senior quarterback Dakota Jahnke found sophomore wide receiver Andrew Westeng with a quick swing pass to the right, but Westeng was stripped of the football from behind by Austin linebacker Toby Holtz, and Fritz recovered for the Packers at the Tiger 24.  Two plays later, it was Fritz sprinting untouched into the end zone from 24 yards out to give Austin a 28-0 lead late in the first quarter.

The two teams then proceeded to trade punts, with Albert Lea taking over at their own 24 after Austin had held for ball for seven plays.  The Packer defense forced yet another turnover as on the third play of the drive, Jahnke slung a pass over the middle that was picked off by linebacker Sam Eyre, who rumbled back to the Tiger 38.  Two plays later, Lang found junior wide receiver Peyton Ransom behind the Albert Lea defense for a 29-yard scoring strike on the first play of the second quarter and a 35-0 Packer lead.

The Tigers started their next drive at their own 9-yard line after Holtz decked Albert Lea return man Jal Thoat on the kickoff, and the Tigers were forced to punt the ball away out of their own end zone after three plays to give Austin the ball at the Albert Lea 36.  A 19-yard run by Fritz and a 13-yard pass from Lang to senior wide receiver A’triel Terry moved the ball to the Tiger 5-yard line, but Albert Lea’s defense came up with a big play as they then forced a fumble that they recovered at their own 1-yard line.  Undeterred, the Packer defense kept the Tiger offense pinned inside the 5-yard line, and another punt out of the end zone gave the ball back to the Austin offense at the Albert Lea 38-yard line.  Five plays later, a 6-yard touchdown run from senior running back Kody Blom and Ewing’s extra point put Austin in the lead, 42-0.

After a touchback on the ensuing kickoff, the Tigers started their next offensive drive from their own 20.  Albert Lea’s best offensive play of the game to that point started the drive as Jahnke found wide receiver Connor May with a 25-yard pass down the right sideline for a first down, the first for Albert Lea that did not come from an Austin penalty.  The Packer defense struck again on the next play, however, as a pressured Jahnke fired a pass over the middle that was intercepted by Eyre, his second of the game which he ran back 45 yards for a pick-6 and a 49-0 Austin lead at the half.

Albert Lea started from their own 20 on the first drive of the second half, but again, Jahnke was victimized by the Austin defense as on the second play of the drive, a pass over the middle was picked off by Tommy Fritz at the 25, and he dashed into the end zone for another Packer pick-6 and a 56-0 Austin lead.  Albert Lea’s only score of the game came later in the 3rd quarter when Jahnke hit wide receiver Kadin Thompson with a 35-yard touchdown pass to make the score 56-6 after the extra point was hooked wide left, and Austin registered the only score of the 4th quarter when sophomore running back Garlo Gee accounted for all 60 yards in a two-play, 60-yard touchdown drive, the second play a 40-yard touchdown run down the right sideline to account for the 63-6 final.

In about 2 1/2 quarters of football, Packer quarterback Jack Lang passing was 8 for 12 passing for 195 yards and three touchdowns, Manny Guy caught two of those passes for 94 yards and a touchdown, Tommy Fritz caught two passes for 54 yard and a touchdown, and Peyton Ransom caught the one pass for 29 yards and a touchdown.  In rushing for the Packers, Fritz carried the ball 11 times for 125 yards and two touchdowns, and Garlo Gee carried the ball two times for 60 yards and a score.  Kody Blom toted the pigskin five times for 17 yards and a score, and the Packers defense turned four Albert Lea turnovers into 28 points.

With the win, Austin finishes the regular season with a record of 2-6, and they will travel to Rochester next Tuesday as the No. 5 seed in the Section 1AAAAA playoffs to take on the number four-seeded Century Panthers, with kickoff at 7 p.m. that evening.

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