Rogers City rolls

Ellenberger scores 3 TDs as Hurons topple Tawas

News Photo by James Andersen Rogers City's Jeffrey Ellenberger (88) runs with the ball while being pursued by Tawas defender Skylar Huggard during a football game on Thursday at Gilpin Field in Rogers City. Ellenberger scored three touchdowns and had an interception in Rogers City's win.

ROGERS CITY–Whenever the Rogers City football team needed a big play on Thursday, Jeffrey Ellenberger was there to deliver.

The Hurons’ do-it-all junior rushed for three touchdowns, came up with an interception and made several big tackles as Rogers City defeated Tawas 24-8 at Gilpin Field.

Rogers City won its second straight game to begin the season 2-0 for the first time since 2015.

Ellenberger had two touchdowns and an interception in the first half and scored for the third time early in the fourth quarter to give the Hurons some breathing room.

Ellenberger finished with 97 yards on 14 carries, but was at his best in short yardage situations, finding the end zone on a three-yard scamper and a pair of one-yard runs.

“Oh Lord, he’s all over the field all the time,” Rogers City coach Jesse Fenstermaker said. “Kids come up in big spots all around, not just J.D. He did a phenomenal job tonight.”

After holding off a spirited comeback from Whittemore-Prescott last week, the Hurons controlled the game early and kept Tawas on its heels. The Braves scored late in third quarter to make it 16-8, but Rogers City shut down any hope of a comeback from there. The Braves punted and turned the ball over on downs on their next two drives and the Hurons controlled the clock late to earn their second win under Fenstermaker.

Along with Ellenberger’s interception, the Hurons kept Tawas quarterback Dillon Mochty in check all night. After throwing for four touchdowns and more than 200 yards last week last week against Alcona, Mochty was held to 74 yards on 5-of-16 passing against Rogers City’s solid pass defense.

“Overall, we played well. We executed well, very minimal mistakes and I couldn’t be prouder of these guys,” Fenstermaker said. “We put in so much game planning. The hours of film my coaching staff watched is phenomenal. Preparation is key and preparing the kids, so that they understand what you want them to do every single down, without question.”

Ellenberger’s one-yard plunge with 5:16 left in the first half gave Rogers City a double-digit lead and Lewis Fleming run in the conversion to put the Hurons ahead 16-0. Ellenberger had intercepted Mochty on the previous drive, giving Rogers City the ball around midfield.

After both teams punted on their first drives, Ellenberger capped a long drive by the Hurons, which began around midfield, with a three-right plunge over the right side to pay dirt. Michael Karsten ran in the conversion to give the Hurons an 8-0 lead with 11:29 left in the half.

Karsten finished the night with 54 yards on 14 carries and Kaleb Budnick had 11 carries for 81 yards, Quarterback Caleb Bade was 2-of-2 passing for 17 yards.

Tawas turned the ball over on downs on its opening drive of the second half, but cashed in later in the third quarter when Logan Fiske scored on a seven-yard run. A pass from Mochty to Noah Davis added a conversion to cut the lead in half, 16-8, with six minutes left in the third quarter.

Fiske led Tawas with 54 yards on eight carries.

The Hurons got a scare late in the third quarter when lineman Nick Toth was injured on a play and was eventually stretchered off the field.

Rogers City iced the game shortly after that as Ellenberger had a five-yard run to convert a key third down and found the end zone five plays later. Budnick ran in the conversion to completed the night’s scoring.

With two wins in hand, the Hurons will look to keep the momentum going next week against Mio. A win would give the Hurons their first 3-0 start since 2009.

“These kids, it’s a testament to them. They want to win,” Fenstermaker said. “They want to win and so my goal is to prepare them and help them succeed. So far it’s going pretty well.”

James Andersen can be reached via email at sports@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.