HICKSVILLE -- Facing an Edgerton offense equally as dangerous passing the ball as they are running with it, the Hicksville Aces opted to take away the run and keep the passes in front of them. Offensively, they were going to just run the ball like they had to all season long.
In the end, aided by a few big plays on special teams and solid field position most of the first half, everything worked out for the Red-and-White as they were able to garner a 34-21 victory and earn at least a share of the Green Meadows Conference title and much-needed Division V, Region 18 playoff points.
"Edgerton is an awfully good football team and we knew they were coming in," said Hicksville coach Lucas Smith after his Aces improved to 7-2 overall and 6-0 in the league and have a piece of their first league title since 2004.
Hicksville opened the game rushing the easily up-and-down the field, especially in the first half where they ran for 177 of their 208 ground yards.
"They're good, they're good at it," Edgerton coach Ben Wilhelm said of the Aces' rushing attack.
Quarterback Justin Miller and running back Seth Klepper each had 84 yards on the ground in the first half and had a rushing touchdown in the first quarter.
"Up front was awesome," said Klepper. "They did a great job of making their blocks and then Justin and I just made cuts and kept it going."
Miller finished with a game-high 102 yards and Klepper ran the ball 13 times for 93 yards, with both scoring two touchdowns, benefitting by the lanes created by Josh Kline, Zac Stoll, Gunner Shock, Blake Sholl and Tyler Monroe.
"We're a lot bigger than them, they only have three guys over 200 pounds and only one of them played from what I saw," said Monroe. "We just double-teamed all night and did a good job of getting angles and pushing them as hard as we could."
The two teams exchanged touchdowns to open the game with Klepper scoring on a 17-yard run to cap off an all run, five-play drive which started at the Hicksville 43. After Edgerton answered with a 12-play drive capped off with Brody Flegal hitting Jimmy Radabaugh for a 9-yard score, Miller found the end zone for the Aces with 3:25 left in the first quarter on a 1-yard run to end an all-run, four-play drive which started at the Bulldogs' 34.
With the score 13-7 following the Miller touchdown and Klepper PAT, the defense forced Edgerton into a three-and-out and a punt from the Bulldogs' 36.
Edgerton, which gave up yards on the kickoffs to avoid kicking to dangerous returner Dean Conley, kicked away from him on the punts as well as Nathan Stark booted the ball to Kaleb Johns. As it turned out, Johns was equally as dangerous.
Taking the ball at his own 33, Johns came from one sideline to the other as Austin Michael delivered a perfectly timed hit to spring Johns and allow him to move toward the Hicksville sideline. As Johns turned up field, and took the ball into Edgerton territory, he received blocks from Conner Yoder and Charlie Emenhiser to give him a clear path to the end zone and six more points with 1:54 left in the first quarter.
Klepper's extras point made the score 20-7.
Edgerton answered with a 13-play, 68-yard drive with Flegal scoring on a 1-yard run and throwing a pass to Hunter flower for the two-point conversion with 8:49 left in the half. However, starting on their own 48 on another short kickoff, Hicksville needed just five runs before Miller scored on a one-yard carry with 6:12 on the clock.
Hicksville went into halftime with a 27-15 lead, keeping Edgerton's high-powered, balanced offense in check.
The Aces decided to focus on Edgerton's run game, which came in averaging 225 yards on the ground while giving some cushion to the Bulldogs' passing attack, which averaged 234 yards in the first eight games.
That strategy seemed to work well as Edgerton had only 61 rushing yards at halftime and 106 through the air.
"We had a great week of practice, we had a great defensive plan and came out ready to go," said Michael, who recorded the first sack given up by Edgerton all season. "It's important when the front four can get pressure so the other guys can stay back and that's really key."
After a scoreless third quarter, Edgerton closed the gap to 27-21 on a Radabaugh 7-yard score early in the fourth, but the Bulldogs finally kicked to Conley on the ensuing kickoff and the junior returned it 54 yards to the Bulldogs' 31.
Four plays later, Klepper scored his second touchdown of the contest with 8:11 left.
The Hicksville defense forced two turnover-on-downs to seal the deal and at least a share of the GMC title, which they can clinch outright with a victory in week 10 at Fairview.
"We still have got to work," concluded Monroe.
For the Bulldogs, they will turn their attention to Tinora in week 10, with playoff hopes alive.
First Downs 18 9
Rushing Yards 41-116 36-208
Passing Yards 217 24
Total Yards 332 232
Passing 19-39-1 1-3-24
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 2-1
Penalties 8-45 6-60
Edgerton 7 8 0 6 - 21
Hicksville 20 7 0 7 - 34
H - Klepper 17-run (kick failed).
E - Radabaugh 9-pass from Radabaugh (Radabaugh kick).
H - Miller 1-run (Klepper kick).
H - Johns 67-yard punt return (Klepper kick).
E - Flegal 1-run (Flower pass from Flegal).
H - Miller 1-run (Klepper kick).
E - Radabaugh 7-run (kick failed).
H - Klepper 1-run (Klepper kick).
RUSHING: Edgerton - Radabaugh 18-59; Flegal 12-28; Richardson 6-18; Flower 3-10; Miller 1-(-1); Stark 1-2. Hicksville - Miller 15-104; Klepper 13-93; Johns 5-39; Post 1-(-1); Yoder 1-(-12); Conley 1-(-15). PASSING: Edgerton - Flegal 19-39-1-217. Hicksville - Miller 1-3-1-24. RECEIVING: Edgerton - Stark 7-83; Flower 5-58; Adams 3-55; Radabaugh 3-21; Richardson 1-0. Hicksville - Sexton 1-24.