Huskies throttle Trojans, 27-6
WORTHINGTON -- With neither team able to move the ball early in the first quarter, Jackson County Central faced a fourth-and-three on its own 34-yard line.
Instead of snapping to the punter, upback Torey Stewart received the ball and scampered for a first down.
"It looked like they were going to return every kick we had back anyway," JCC head coach Tom Schuller said. "So the risk wasn't as big as you think. We had about three yards to go, and we figured against the wind we'd kick it 25 yards. Of the 25, it seemed like they'd take it back 18-30, so it seemed like the thing to do."
The fourth-down conversion propelled the Huskies (4-2, 6-2) to their first touchdown en route to a 26-7 victory over Worthington (2-4, 2-6) Wednesday night in a Southwest Conference football match-up.
"Every time we lose, it's very disappointing," Worthington head coach Dennis Hale said. "So it's the sixth time we've felt this way."
With Trojan field a muddy debacle, Stewart and the Huskies' offensive front controlled the line of scrimmage all night.
JCC rushed for 364 yards, with Stewart gaining 178 yards on 19 carries.
"They lined up in wishbone and ran down our throat," Hale said. "We did everything that we could think of."
For Stewart, the credit goes to the offensive line.
"We didn't play as a team today, we played as a family," Stewart said. "Our line, for running in these conditions, did really good. They opened up some really good holes for us."
After converting on the fourth down, Stewart found paydirt from five yards out. He also ran in the 2-point conversion to give JCC an 8-0 lead.
"Worthington stopped us and got some good field position, and we were able to hang out by our fingernails," Schuller said. "I think the fake punt was the big play in the game. We were able to get out of our own end finally and see something other than our 20 and 30-yard line. Then we were able to do some things."
Even though the Trojans spent most of their time in JCC territory, the offense managed just eight yards in the first quarter and trailed by a touchdown.
Behind two big runs from David Stegenga (13 carries, 81 yards), JCC got on the board right away in the second quarter. Stegenga found the end zone from nine yards out to increase the lead to 14 points.
For the first two possessions of the second quarter, the Trojans could manage just 10 yards of offense. However, on the first play of their third drive, Mitchell Jensen (7 carries, 57 yards) found some running room for a 25-yard gain.
Behind adept passing from Mike Vorwald (11-of-21, 69 yards), the Trojans marched down to the Huskies' 10-yard line.
However, the Trojans could not move the ball any further as the half ended in a 14-point JCC lead.
"Worthington battled us tooth and nail, and they've made a lot of improvement throughout the year too," Schuller said. "They are a lot better football team than they were at the beginning of the year."
On the Huskies' first drive of the second half, JCC found the end zone again. A 53-yard run by Stewart moved the ball down to the 1-yard line. Playing in place of suspended Caleb Lines, Jordan Cholick (5 carries, 18 yards) found the end zone from a yard out to push the lead to 20-0.
The Trojans finally got on the board on their next drive.
With a 13-yard run from Tim Roos (15 carries, 114 yards), the Trojans finally found the end zone. With a PAT from John Mead, Worthington pulled to within two touchdowns at 20-7.
Nathan Brandt (7 carries, 63 yards), gained 32 rushing yards on the Huskies' next offensive play to put JCC in Worthington territory.
Stegenga capped the 4-play drive with a 27-yard touchdown to give the Huskies a 26-7 lead.
The Trojans threatened again on their next possession. Behind a 46-yard gain from Roos, the Trojans moved inside the red zone, but failed to score again.
"We moved the ball between the 20's, but we still have to get it in the end zone," Hale said. "They took some things away that gave us some options, but we were never able to get it in the end zone. So getting a few yards rushing didn't ease the pain any."
Normally a passing team, Worthington had 230 yards on the ground in this contest, but managed just 69 yards passing.
Aaron Schultz had 25 yards receiving on five receptions.
"When we play good teams, we haven't passed very well," Hale said. "So, you can't really blame it on (the field conditions). We didn't execute; we had some guys open that we didn't execute on. It was a combination of things that we have battled all year."
Neither team scored in the fourth quarter, as JCC held on for a 26-7 victory.
With the victory, the Huskies wrapped up a No. 2 seed in the playoffs, and will likely face the Windom Eagles.
"It feels really good," Stewart said of the victory. "We'll hopefully go against Windom again, so that'll be fun."
With a second seed, the Huskies have an opportunity to have two home games in the playoffs.
"We have a lot of momentum," Schuller said. "The big thing is to get points, and this assured the No. 2 seed for us. It hopefully got us another home playoff game. We have to go out and win the first playoff game like everybody else does, but if we happen to be fortunate and do that, it'll give us another home game, which we think is a big deal."
The Trojans may be the odd team out in their section, but will have to wait for results of other games until they learn their playoff fate.
JCC 8 6 12 0 -- 26
Worthington 0 0 7 0 -- 7