WOODWARD, Iowa — Logan-Magnolia is heading to the Dome. And did the Panthers ever make a statement in the process.
Lo-Ma senior Paul Hutson jumped up and down with giddy delight. Players hugged supporters in the stands. Onlookers along the Woodward-Granger sideline sat in shocked silence.
That was only part of the scene as the Iowa Class A No. 6 Panthers (11-1) hit the ground running against the No. 1 Hawks en route to a landmark 46-14 win in Friday night’s football quarterfinal round. The visitors didn’t attempt a single pass while piling up 398 rushing yards and holding W-G to 261 total yards of offense on its home field.
“We just kept hitting them hard,” senior two-way lineman Logan Melby said. “We didn’t give up or let up. We just kept hitting and didn’t give them any breaks at all. This is probably the best feeling in the world.
“Knowing we beat the No. 1 team, we’re ready to come out and win this thing.”
The purple and gold-clad program will make a triumphant return to the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls for the first time since winning a state title in 1990. It will play unrated Hinton (9-3) on Nov. 9 for the right to appear in the championship game.
Hutson, part of an accomplished group of Lo-Ma seniors, was still trying to wrap his head around that fact 20 minutes after the final gun Friday. His team had lost to St. Albert in the quarterfinals in painful fashion the last two seasons in Class 1-A before dropping to Class A this fall.
Hutson had plenty of props for offensive linemen like Melby, James Bransetter, Austin Ettleman, Brennan Azinger, Tanner Winther and Jacob Stueve. They created plenty of running lanes against an unbeaten opponent that hadn’t played a close game all fall.
The power running back did his part too, ripping off 220 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. Fellow senior Caden McDonald finished with the same number of touches for 116 yards and three scores, while sophomore bruiser Brady Charbonneau also scored twice.
“The last two years we were stopped short, and we knew we wanted to get this,” Hutson said. “Now it’s something I’ve never felt before. It’s here, and we’re ready for it.”
So thorough was Logan-Magnolia’s domination that a running clock went into effect with 8:43 left in the game. The Panthers held one of the state’s top rushers, 235-pound senior Andrew McCune, to 167 yards on 32 carries and kept him out of the end zone.
While the Panthers won the turnover battle 3-2, they certainly didn’t need the extra advantage. They forced a three-and-out to open the game, and scored on a McDonald 2-yard plunge four plays later. After holding the Hawks on downs on their 30-yard line, the Panthers went up 14-0 on Hutson’s 60-yard cutback score.
Woodward-Granger (11-1) got within 21-7 when quarterback Taylor Ashman found Dylan Nixon for a 5-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal. But it punted on its next two possessions, and Dillon Wills picked off Ashman after that to set up another McDonald TD run right before halftime to make it 27-7.
The outcome was particularly stunning to the Hawks, who rarely trailed this season and aren’t used to losing at home. Coach George Ashman said players not being in school hurt their game-day routine.
But it wouldn’t have made up for the lopsided final.
“We did change our defense up a little bit and try to move some bodies inside,” Ashman said. “They were just too physical for us up front.”
Ahead 33-7 entering the fourth quarter, Melby forced a Taylor Ashman fumble that Brennan Azinger recovered. After Brady Charbonneau scored, Melby recovered an incomplete backward pass fumble to set up another Charbonneau run — this time from 18 yards out.
“It was just a special scene,” Lo-Ma coach Matt Straight said. “We have a lot of alumni here from the last two years. I told them they helped get us here.”
Logan-Magnolia (11-1) .................. 14 13 6 13—46
Woodward-Granger (11-1) .................. 0 7 0 7—14
LM: Caden McDonald 2 run (Brady Charbonneau kick)
LM: Paul Hutson 60 run (Charbonneau kick)
WG: Dylan Nixon 5 pass from Taylor Ashman (Chris McConahay kick)
LM: Hutson 4 run (Charbonneau kick)
LM: McDonald 12 run (kick failed)
LM: McDonald 26 run (kick failed)
LM: Charbonneau 3 run (kick failed)
LM: Charbonneau 18 run (Charbonneau kick)
WG: McConahay 27 pass from Ashman (McConahay kick)
RUSHING: LM, Paul Hutson 17-220, Caden McDonald 17-116, John Thiele 1-(-2), Brady Charbonneau 3-32, Nick Knudsen 1-4, Drake Cohrs 1-2, Kaleb Reynek 3-3, Colton Fisher 3-23. WG, Andrew McCune 32-167, Tyler Lesch 2-3, Taylor Ashman 5-(-22), Marshall Nieland 4-22.
PASSING: LM, none. WG, Ashman 8-16-1, 91 yards.
RECEIVING: LM, none. WG, Lesch 1-10, Nieland 3-38, Nixon 1-5, Tanner Canova 1-8, McConahay 2-30.