BALSAM LAKE – The second time around wasn’t much better for the Grantsburg football team.
While the Pirates hoped to even the season series with Unity and advance in the postseason with a road win last Friday, the Eagles once again grabbed an early lead and held it, this time for a 38-20 win to end Grantsburg’s season.
The Unity run game that provided a two-touchdown first-quarter lead finished with 352 yards rushing while the Eagles’ defense limited the Pirates to 199 total yards.
“We didn’t block or tackle to our potential all night,” Grantsburg coach Adam Hale said.
Unity took an 8-0 lead with an 8-yard run from Adam Weihe and a 2-point conversion run from Jake Bloom. The Eagles then capped another scoring drive with a 3-yard run from Bloom, though the conversion failed to keep the score at 14-0.
“We got off to a rough start and went 3-and-out our first drive, which didn’t help as (Unity) capitalized on their opening drive,” Hale said.
But, not all Grantsburg’s second-quarter drives were short.
The Pirates got on the board and moved to within a score when Aidan Burkman crossed the end zone on a 1-yard run, followed by an extra point from Jared VanWatermuelen. Another first-half score would have given Grantsburg a chance to tie the game or take the lead, but the Eagles denied any more points and extended their lead prior to halftime.
Heath Foeller capped a Unity scoring drive with a 5-yard touchdown run and the Eagles went up 22-7 with a 2-point conversion run from Jack Nelson. But, the Pirates had an early second-half rejuvenation that seemed to give them hope.
They pulled back to within a score with another touchdown from Burkman. His 1-yard run and following kick from VanWatermuelen made it a 22-14 score early in the third quarter, but the Eagles had a quick response.
The Eagles regained a two-score lead before the end of the third quarter with one of their six pass attempts in the game. Nelson connected with Luke Flaherty on a 17-yard touchdown pass and Nelson also added the 2-point run to give Unity a 30-14 lead to start the fourth.
“We came out with a little more fire in the third quarter and went right down the field to score, only to have (Unity) answer on the next drive,” Hale said.
Grantsburg eventually got another touchdown but couldn’t get back within a score of the Eagles.
A 1-yard touchdown run from Levi Miller and another VanWatermuelen kick were the remaining points for the Pirates, but couldn’t threaten the Eagles’ lead. Unity added an insurance score in the fourth quarter, getting a 5-yard touchdown run from Nelson and a 2-point conversion pass from Nelson to Andrew Krone.
“We just wanted to end drives with scores and we didn’t do that enough,” Hale said.
Foeller led the Eagles with 118 yards rushing on 13 carries; Nelson had 89 yards on 14 carries and Bloom had 79 yards on nine carries.
Grantsburg’s Sterling McKinley completed eight of his 16 pass attempts for 80 yards and rushed for 35 yards on seven carries. Burkman had 51 yards on 13 carries. Trevor Anderson led the defense with 11 tackles; VanWatermuelen had 10 tackles and McKinley added nine.
The Pirates finish the 2019 season with a 6-4 overall record. Unity advances to face Spring Valley this Friday.