Huskies handle Eagles, 45-21
JACKSON -- With 277 yards on the ground, the Jackson County Central Huskies ran away from the Windom Eagles, 45-21, in a Southwest Conference contest Friday night.
"Anytime you get (45 points) you better not be losing football games," JCC head coach Tom Schuller said. "We did a nice job of running the ball and mixing it up a little bit."
JCC (3-2, 5-2) was able to find the end zone first in the game. After Windom (0-5, 1-6) fumbled, the Huskies took over on the Windom 42.
Caleb Lines (11 rushes for 85 yards) capped the drive with a 20-yard burst to pay dirt to give the Huskies the early lead. After a successful PAT, JCC held a 7-0 lead.
With neither team able to score again in the first quarter, it did not take long for JCC to get on the board in the second quarter.
Behind Torey Stewart (18 rushes for 147 yards) and Lines, the Huskies found themselves in the red zone again.
This time, Nathan Brandt (6-of-14 for 71 yards) found Ryan Rasche (three catches for 37 yards) for a 16-yard touchdown pass. After another successful PAT, JCC held a 14-0 lead.
"The defense was on the field all dang night and they played their hearts out," Windom head coach Erin Elder said. "We had some defensive breakdowns but when you're on the field that much against a good football team, that's going to happen."
Trailing by two touchdowns, the Windom offense came to life.
Ryan Gilbertson (7-of-14 for 109 yards) found A.J. Stevens (4 receptions for 58 yards) for a 14-yard gain to start the Eagle drive.
Brett Lohse (10 rushes for 67 yards) provided the big play of the drive -- a 31-yard scamper down the right sideline.
Gilbertson connected with Stevens for a 23-yard touchdown strike to bring the Eagles back within a touchdown at 14-6.
On JCC's next play from scrimmage, Stewart found daylight up the right side for a 71-yard touchdown burst to push the Huskies' lead.
"That was big," Schuller said of the run. "At that point, they were back in the game and it was tight. That gave us a little breathing room and changed the game. From that point on, we were never really seriously threatened with our first team."
Windom was running a defense that was weak on the outside and Elder said it was just a matter of time before the Huskies were able to exploit the weakness.
"We took a chance on some calls and they were working out well for us in the first quarter and the middle of the second quarter, but we ran a defense where we were giving up the outside," Elder said. "Their coaches up in the box picked up on it and ran a pitch play outside to where we were weak and we had a couple of guys there, but it was one of those things where it was a good call for what we were giving them."
Windom recovered a fumble on JCC's first offensive possession of the first half, but the Huskie defense was able to match.
JCC's Jason Cook intercepted a Gilbertson pass and took it 22 yards for another Huskies touchdown.
With a successful PAT, JCC held a 28-6 lead.
"We just made too many mistakes," Elder said following the game. "We don't have enough guys doing the right thing. When you're not as athletic as the other team, and not as big and strong as the other team, you have to go out there and have 11 guys doing the right thing on every single play. It has to be mistake-free football, and we're just not there yet."
The Huskies found the end zone once more in the third quarter. This time, David Stegenga (7 carries, 45 yards) rumbled in from 19 yards out -- giving JCC a 35-6 lead.
Gilbertson led the Eagles down the field in their first possession of the fourth quarter.
He threw for 58 yards on the drive with completions to Stevens, Brett Dumke (2 catches, 26 yards) and Bryce Grove (4 catches, 76 yards).
Grove caught a pass from 12 yards out to score the touchdown, and Dumke caught the 2-point conversion, pulling the Eagles to within three touchdowns, 35-14.
After a field goal by JCC, Windom once again found the end zone.
This time, Stevens, playing as the backup quarterback, needed three plays to march down the field.
Stevens threw for 61 yards on the three-play drive. Stevens to Dumke for 14 yards capped the drive, and a successful PAT brought the score to 38-21.
Not to be outdone, JCC answered with a little trickery to find the end zone.
Stewart threw a 38-yard pass to Patrick Garvin to move inside the red zone. Stegenga finished the drive with a five-yard touchdown burst, giving the Huskies their final points.
Zach Drahota intercepted a Windom pass late in the game to seal the 45-21 victory.
"I guess I'm not disappointed in the number of points put up because our offense was moving the ball fairly well and (the defense) was on the field too much," Elder said. "Our offense has to drive the ball better and keep it out of their hands and then you don't have as many points scored. It's probably more the lapse on the offense than on the defense."
On the opposite side, Schuller was pleased with his team's performance.
"I thought we played pretty good," Schuller said. "Windom can move the ball against people, and I thought our first team did a good job of holding them in there. I was real happy with our performance tonight."
Windom will host Pipestone Area next week, while JCC will travel to Worthington in a game that will have major playoff implications for both teams.
"We've been playing better the last couple of weeks," Schuller said. "These are vital contests for us for playoff points. Next week against Worthington is another huge game for us. We have the No. 2 seed as a possibility. So we need that game as we needed tonight desperately."
Windom 0 6 0 15 -- 21
JCC 7 14 14 10 -- 45