By PATRICK SLACK
Trailing 32-12 midway through the third quarter of its homecoming game, not much was going right for the Little Falls football team against visiting Mora, Sept. 28.
A game-opening 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by senior Collin Eckman was answered less than a minute later by the Mustangs, as Mora would go on to take a 26-6 lead in the second quarter.
Then, after junior Jalen Wuchko broke loose for a 39-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter to close the gap to 26-12 and give the Flyers momentum heading into the second half, Mora pushed its lead back out to 20.
“No one panicked, just kept working and plugging away and making adjustments,” Little Falls head coach Jay DeCann said. “The kids did an amazing job of staying the course and working together. Their efforts eventually wore down Mora and we were able to take advantage of that.”
Despite the three-score deficit, the Flyers continued to come after Mora, shutting out the Mustangs to give their offense a chance to cut into Mora’s lead.
“Coach Czech and the defensive staff had to settle our kids down. We lost our focus on fundamentals. Once we got the kids back and we played to our scheme, Mora had a hard time sustaining any drives on us.”
After closing the gap with a pair of scores, Little Falls finally pulled all the way back with less than a minute to play when Wuchko found the end zone on a powerful 2-yard burst with 53 seconds left to tie the score.
Sophomore Thomas Bell converted the ensuing extra point to give Little Falls the lead and its second win in a row.
In addition to the game-opening touchdown return, Eckman hauled in 11 passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns while also intercepting two passes on defense.
“Collin works very hard in practice and prepares for success,” DeCann said. “His efforts from the weight room to the practice field are a large part of his success in games. He is a great athlete and can do so many different things very well.”
Wuchko eclipsed 200 yards for the second consecutive game, finishing with 213 yards on 28 rushes.
Senior quarterback Spencer Fenske completed 13-of-18 passes for a pair of scores and 113 yards.
Defensively, senior Jordan Petrone led the Flyers with 12 tackles, with sophomore Bryce Zawatzke recording eight and sophomore Brighton Goodrich adding seven.
Little Falls 33, Mora 32
Mora 12 14 6 0 – 32
Little Falls 6 6 7 14 – 33
LF: Collin Eckman 88 kickoff return (pass failed), 11:47.
MORA: Anderson 68 pass from Mantel (kick failed), 11:03.
MORA: Chimiel 21 run (conv. failed), 4:40.
MORA: Graves 80 run (conv. failed), 7:32.
MORA: Graves 25 pass from Mantel (Graves run), 7:22.
LF: Jalen Wuchko 39 run (conv. failed), 4:43.
MORA: Mantel 9 run (conv. failed), 6:05.
LF: Eckman 23 pass from Spencer Fenske (Thomas Bell kick), 3:57.
LF: Eckman 12 pass from Fenske (Bell kick), 5:19.
LF: Wuchko 2 run (Bell kick), 0:53.
Little Falls—Rushing: Jalen Wuchko, 28-213; Spencer Fenske, 5-15; Mike Trettel, 1-10; Collin Gradin, 1-7; Tyler Gastecki, 1-5; Bryce Zawatzke, 1-3; Jordan Petrone, 1-2. Passing: Fenkse, 13-18, 113. Receiving: Collin Eckman, 11-93; Robert Reller, 1-19; Josh Wenzel, 1-1. Defense: Petrone, 12 tackles; Zawatzke, 8 tackles; Brighton Goodrich, 7 tackles; Tom Tabatt, 6 tackles; Isaiah Korver, 5 tackles; Randy Olson, 4 tackles; Trysten Ross, 4 tackles; Eckman, 2 interceptions.