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New Life Academy football: Eagles dominated by Crusaders

The New Life Academy football team had a tall order against Saint Croix Lutheran.

The Crusaders, last year’s Class AAA runner up and 2011 state champion, came to NLA and ran past the Eagles, 47-14 on Friday, Sept. 27. The Eagles struggled to stop the Crusaders’ powerful rushing attack.

“Valiant efforts in a losing cause,” Eagles coach Paul Mork said.

The Eagles fell behind in the first quarter on a 52-yard run by Crusaders junior running back Travis Koester. Despite the big play, the Eagles defense responded and kept the game to 7-0 through one quarter.

Crusaders quarterback David Ponath scored two TDs in the second quarter, which put the Eagles further behind 21-0. Seth Rice, the Eagles’ junior quarterback, put his team on the board for the first time with a one-yard TD run.

Rice passed 3-7 with 66 yards and one interception on the night. Most of his passing yards came on a 49-yard pass to Kai Ylonen. Receivers Ty Frazier and Caleb Deiss caught the only other two completed passes of the night.

Big plays by the Crusaders buried the Eagles in the third quarter. Running back Keegan Smith ran 33 yards for their first score of the half, and Ponath threw a 50-yard TD to Josh Galkowski.

“It hurt, but everyone fought the good fight in the fourth quarter as well as the first three quarters,” Mork said.

Eagles sophomore running back Eby Ketema scored a 12-yard rushing TD late in the fourth quarter while the Crusaders had a comfortable 47-8 lead. Ketema ran for 70 yards on 10 carries. Senior running back Andrew Nieuwsma added 31 yards on 11 carries.

Sean Jacobson led the Eagles defense with five tackles, and Jacob Salkowicz had four tackles. As a unit, the Eagles gave up 315 yards rushing and five TDs against the Tri-Metro Conference East Division’s first-place team.

The Eagles (1-4, 1-4 Tri-Metro East) will take on another team at the top of the division in Saint Agnes (4-1, 2-1 TME) at Midway Stadium on Friday.

—Matthew Davis