CULVER — Culver Community and LaVille both tested positive for raging cases of fumblitis Friday.
Fortunately for the host Cavs, they put up enough offense prior to contracting the dread disease to pick up a 21-7 Northern State Conference football win over the Lancers on Senior Night.
Culver crossed the goal line in three of its first four possessions, ultimately overcoming four turnovers — three of those deep inside LaVille turf.
“I thought our kids did a pretty good job; I thought (LaVille’s) kids did a good job,” Culver head coach Andy Thomas said. “It wasn’t pretty. I thought our kids fought pretty hard and fortunately came out with a win.
“LaVille’s defense did a good job,” he added. “They were mixing up their fronts on every play. It makes it hard for the offensive line to get into a rhythm.”
That ever-changing LaVille rotation held Culver scoreless in the second half.
“Our defense played exceptionally well in the second half,” LaVille head coach Mark Reddy said. “We had guys playing where they haven’t played before. We adjusted play by play. I’m proud of the effort.”
Culver senior running back Tucker Schultz plunged into the end zone twice from 1 yard — once off left tackle with 8:06 left in the first frame, the second off the right side to put the Cavs up 14-7 with 8:27 to play in the first half. He finished with a game-high 74 rushing yards in 19 attempts.
Senior wideout Micah Budzinski put his 6-foot-6 frame to good use with a 12-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Preston Hansel to give Culver a 21-7 lead with 24.8 seconds left before the intermission, and hauled in an interception on a deep pass late in the fourth quarter.
Hansel, in his second start in place of injured four-year starter Collin Stevens, also completed a two-point conversion pass to senior Bradley Beaver.
“(Hansel) got better this week,” Thomas said. “He did a better job throwing the ball.”
Meanwhile, LaVille matched the Cavs with four turnovers of its own, but compounded matters by adding three more fumbles to the trio it lost.
“Right now we’re a football team that’s struggling,” Reddy said. “We had a great effort, but the execution wasn’t there. Every time we’d get momentum we’d shoot ourselves in the foot. We lined up wrong a few times; we were putting the ball on the ground a lot. Even when we recovered our own fumbles that still cost us plays.”
The Lancers, though, claimed a brief lead late in the first frame. Sophomore quarterback Mitchell Henry connected with freshman Alex Steinke for an 18-yard pickup on fourth and 4 from the Culver 26. Four plays later, senior running back Josh Dudeck barreled in from 1 yard, and with Jordan Smith’s extra point, grabbed a 7-6 lead with 2:35 left in the opening stanza.
Culver responded immediately with a 12-play, 68-yard journey capped off by the second of Schultz’s touchdowns. The Cavs exploited the edges during the drive with quick hits to Budzinski and pitches to the outside.
“We wanted to try to get the ball to the wideouts quickly,” Thomas said. “We were able to do that and that opened up some things on the inside.”
For Culver, Nick Pritz, Matt Hurford, and John Ahlenius all recovered fumbles.
For the Lancers, Chuck Lampkins collected an interception and fumble recovery, Henry picked off his counterpart, and Chris Bailey pounced on a loose pigskin.
“Chuck Lampkins played a great game defensively,” Reddy said. “He has gotten better and better each week. Offensively, we had people in places they hadn’t played in awhile; we had guys getting back from injury, so it was good to get those guys back on the field. We need to be more consistent.”
Both teams hit the road in opening-round sectional action next week. Culver heads to West Central, while LaVille travels to North Miami.
• CULVER COMMUNITY 21,
Score by quarters
LaVille: 7 0 0 0 — 7
Culver: 6 15 0 0 — 21
C — Tucker Schultz 1 run (kick failed), 8:06.
LV — Josh Dudeck 1 run (Jordan Smith kick), 2:35.
C — Schultz 2 run (Bradley Beaver pass from Preston Hansel), 8:27.
C — Micah Budzinski 12 pass from Hansel (Collin Stevens kick), 24.8.
Rushing: 27 carries for 80 yards (Dudeck 10-31, Cameron Gurtner 6-29, Tyler Thompson 7-27, Brandon Masterson 1-4, Mitchell Henry 3-(minus)11).
Passing: Henry 4-9-1, 23 yards; Greg Peppers 1-1, 30 yards
Receiving: Cameron Gurtner 2-26, Alex Steinke 1-17, Devin Johnson 1-6, Tyler Thompson 1-4.
Tackles: Chuck Lampkins 6
First downs: 5
Rushing: 46 carries for 183 yards (Schultz 19-74, Hansel 9-44, Beaver 9-40, Trent Elliott 1-30, Everett Krueger 5-6, Budzinski 1-0, Jaymin Siple 2-(minus)11).
Passing: Hansel 8-15-2, 92 yards
Receiving: Budzinski 5-66, Elliott 2-15, Schultz 1-13).
Tackles: Matt Hurford 5
First downs: 16
Records: LaVille 1-8 (0-7 NSC), Culver 3-6 (3-4 NSC).