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Prep football: Annandale routs WHS on homecoming night

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Lance Knutson

Daily Globe

WORTHINGTON —The Annandale Cardinals scored three touchdowns in the game’s first six minutes and 17 seconds en route to a 41-0 nonconference football victory over the Worthington Trojans on homecoming Friday for the locals.

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Friday’s loss ended the Trojans’ two-game winning streak, dropping WHS to 2-3 overall, while Annandale improved to 3-2 with its second consecutive win.

“Annandale is a good football team,” Trojans head coach Brad Grimmius said. “There’s a reason why they’ve been to the Dome the past couple years for the state tournament. Their two losses were to quality opponents (Delano and Glencoe-Silver Lake) and they are much better than the 2-2 record they brought into the game.”

Annandale used a quick-strike offense to build a 14-0 lead as Andrew Russek slashed through the Trojans’ defense 53 seconds into the game on the third play from scrimmage before Riley Atkinson connected with Kyler Fobbe on a 27-yard pass to paydirt at 5:55 following Worthington’s opening possession that ended in a punt.

“We knew coming into the game that we had to stop No. 44 (Russek),” Grimmius said. “(Russek) has that combination of power and speed in the open field and definitely displayed his ability in the first half.”

Russek finished with 158 yards on 13 carries.

Following the Cardinals’ second score, the visiting defense extended the margin to 21-0 on a 12-yard fumble return touchdown by Dwight Moe at 5:43.

The Annandale defense added another score at 5:48 of the second quarter as Ben Jonas intercepted Trojans quarterback Will Dudley and returned the errant pass 15 yards to the end zone for a 28-0 lead.

“Annandale’s too good of a team to have our offense give 14 points to,” Grimmius said. “We just can’t do that and expect to win.”

In between the pair of defensive scores for the Cardinals, the Trojan offense ventured into opposing territory with three consecutive first downs as Dudley hit Robert Lovan with a 20-yard pass and Troy Eknitphong dashed 13 yards before Dudley added an 11-yard scamper. However, the drive stalled out in Cardinals’ territory following a penalty that set up long yardage situations on third and fourth down.

The Trojans later took control of the ball past midfield following a muffed punt by the Cardinals, but another interception by the visitors started a nine-play, 87-yard drive that ended with Atkinson tossing a 23-yard aerial to Andrew Fort for a 35-0 advantage with 26 seconds left before halftime.

Atkinson finished with three touchdown passes and 201 yards on a 7-for-15 effort with his third scoring pass concluding the game’s scoring on an 85-yard pass to Austin Kalla, who caught the pass in the left flat before avoiding one tackle and sprinting away from the Trojan defenders up the left sideline with 4:40 left in the third quarter. After the Trojans blocked the extra-point try, the score was 41-0.

Despite the final score, Grimmius was satisfied with how the Trojans played in the second half.

“We did a much better job, defensively, after halftime,” the WHS coach said. “Zach Kempema and Trevor Wietzema really played well. Also, Will Mulder did a nice job kicking the ball for us.”

Mulder had several nice punts, including a 65-yarder early in fourth quarter that helped keep the Cardinals off the board in the final frame.

Offensively, the Trojans finished with 126 yards rushing and 44 yards passing.

Eknitphong led the WHS running backs with 59 yards on 11 carries, while Lovan added 33 yards on six carries and Zach Bruns finished with 20 yards on four touches. Marcus Potter, Jesse Low and Zach Palmer also received carries in the game.

Dudley was 4-for-15 passing for 44 yards and three interceptions. Mulder and Lovan each caught a pair of Dudley’s aerials for 17 and 27 yards, respectively.

WHS returns to action Friday with a Southwest Conference showdown with the Marshall Tigers, who lost to Jackson County Central 35-14 on Friday. The Trojans and the Tigers both have 2-1 records in the league.

“We’ll give the kids the weekend off before getting back at it next week to prepare for Marshall,” Grimmius said. “Both teams are coming off losses and will be looking to get back in the win next week.”

Annandale 21 14 6 0 — 41

WHS 0 0 0 0 — 0

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