Football: Fulton running game nullified by Forreston defense

Ground to a halt

FULTON – When Fulton’s preferred mode of transportation was shut down completely, it had to go to Plan B against Forreston.

The Steamers had a bit of success, but not nearly enough to hang with the Cardinals, who rolled to a 30-6 victory Saturday afternoon in a Class 1A second-round game.

Fulton (7-4) had 11 carries for minus-42 yards in the first half. Austin Schroeder, who entered the game with 164 carries for 1,374 yards, had four carries for minus-17 yards before halftime. Quarterback Bryce Grant, counting sack yardage, had three attempts for minus-26 yards.

The Steamers had six 3-and-outs in seven first-half possessions, with the lone exception coming when Grant lost a fumble on a first-down play.

“The first half, we knew Forreston was good, and they were pressuring on the edge,” Grant said. “I was having to scramble a little bit. The second half, we figured it out and started moving the ball a little bit.”

The Steamers all but abandoned the run in the second half, and did have some success through the air. Grant threw for 73 yards in the last two quarters, and he also hauled in a 27-yard halfback option pass from Schroeder for Fulton’s only score.

Grant also provided Fulton with a much-needed defensive spark when his interception stopped a Forreston drive deep in Steamers’ territory early in the second half.

The defending state champion Cardinals (10-1) wasted little time in seizing control, with touchdowns on three of their first four possessions, and moving the ball virtually at will on the ground.

Garett Badertscher (13 carries, 72 yards) and AJ Christensen (11-69) each scored on two short touchdown runs, while Evan Kelsey (10-69), Ethan Mulder (9-52) and Gavin Fuchs (9-51) also were effective. Forreston had 320 total yards, all on the ground.

“Our offensive line is able to get a push every play,” Badertscher said. “We’ve got good backs that follow a good offensive line. It’s fun to play in an offense like that.”

Forreston coach Denny Diduch was thrilled to see his team perform the way it did early.

“We’re both trying to feel each other out,” Diduch said. “If we’re able to get some points and some 3-and-outs early, we can build some momentum. As they figured things out, they were able to find some holes. It’s very important, especially in the playoffs with two teams that aren’t familiar with each other, to win that first 8 minutes.”

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