by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Elk River took on yet another football power on Friday evening and remained without a victory, but the Elks gave Totino-Grace a stern challenge before succumbing 28-14 in Fridley.
The Elks, who had the ball with five minutes left while trailing 20-14, are now 0-5 against five teams with a composite record of 21-3, four of them ranked in the Star-Tribune metro top ten. Next Friday the Elks will finally be a non-underdog, hosting Armstrong, also 0-5, at homecoming.
This one was winnable, coach Steve Hamilton felt.
“If not for two penalties, we would have won this game,” said Hamilton.
The coach referred to a holding on first-and-goal at the 12 that foiled one drive, and another hold that nullified a kick return to the five-yard line. Another missed opportunity for the Elks was getting stopped by the Eagles on 4th-and-2 at the Eagle 10.
“We were really moving the ball tonight,” said Hamilton. “The kids played their tails off.”
The Elks rushed for 366 yards, with Denis Bardashevskiy gaining 183 on 27 carries and Zach Ernst 126 on 15 carries. Totino-Grace rushed for 262 yards and passed for 43.
Denis Bardasevskiy scored on a five-yard run in the first quarter to knot the score 7-7. The Elks fell behind 20-7, then pulled within 20-14 on Zach Ernst’s 10-yard run in the fourth quarter.
The Elks stopped the Eagles (4-1) on downs and the T-G punter shanked the ball but got a favorable bounce at the sideline. The ball rolled dead at the five-yard-line, where the Elks took over with five minutes left.
The Elks reached the 20 and fumbled (their lone drop of the game) and Totino-Grace put the game away with Kai Barber bolting 13 yards for the touchdown. A two-point pass made it 28-14.
Last year, Totino-Grace pounded the Elks 36-0 behind a fearsome group of defensive linemen that has moved on to college teams.
This year the Eagles’ dominant feature are dynamic ball carriers, said Hamilton.
“On that first touchdown by Flomo, I swear all 11 of our guys hit him,” said Hamilton.
Kez Flomo opened the scoring with a 20-yard run. Barber tallied three TD’s, also scoring on a 27-yard run and 26-yard pass play from Seth Sullwold.
The Elk defense was aggressive and swarming throughout, though, keeping the Elks in the game, said the coach.
“I think this (result) was very complimentary for our kids, against one of the best teams in the state. We are so close to being really good.”
Totino-Grace, an eight-time state champion, is 4-1 and ranked No. 10 in the metro area. The Eagles have beaten Coon Rapids 23-12, Edina 28-7, and Park Center 34-7, while losing to Eden Prairie 42-7.
Totino-Grace 28, Elks 14
Elk River …………… 0 7 0 7 — 14
Totino-Grace ………. 7 7 6 8 — 28
TG—Kez Flomo 20 run (Evan Jobin kick)
ER—Denis Bardashevskiy 5 run (Austin Larson kick)
TG—Kai Barber 26 pass from Seth Sullwold (Jobin kick)
TG—Barber 27 run (kick failed)
ER—Zach Ernst 10 run (Larson kick)
TG—Barber 13 run (Alec Spevacek pass from Sullwold)
Elk River statistics
Rushing leaders — Bardashevskiy 27-183, Ernst 15-126, Trent Pink 13-51
Passing — Pink 1-5-14
Receiving — Bardashevskiy 1-14
Interception — Brad Yankowiak
Rushing leaders — Flom 15-103, Barber 9-99
Passing —Sullwold 3-5-43-1