GRISWOLD, Iowa — Logan Currin was back on the field. Not coincidentally, East Mills is all but back in the postseason.
The junior quarterback — returning after missing three games with a shoulder injury — passed for 230 yards and two touchdowns as visiting East Mills stifled Griswold 32-0 on a frigid Friday night. With a suddenly versatile offense, the Wolverines head into next week’s game against last-place West Monona needing a win to secure a home playoff game as the runner-up in Iowa Class A, District 8.
East Mills (6-2, 4-2) also got a pair of rushing touchdowns from sophomore Joshua Hopkins and another out of Lane Stortenbecker. But it was Currin who kept Griswold off balance, completing 8 of 12 attempts to five players while showing mobility in the pocket.
“He came in like he’d been playing the whole year,” East Mills coach Andy Irwin said. “It was great to see him come out with confidence and great to see him have success.”
A pair of long first-half strikes helped the guests build an 18-0 halftime lead. One possession after Stortenbecker ran in for a 4-yard score, Currin hit senior Travis Tupper in stride for a 90-yard touchdown down the left sideline in the final moments of the first quarter.
East Mills punted and fumbled on its next two drives. But with about 25 seconds left before intermission, Currin completed a short slant pass on third-and-9 to Michael Story, who weaved through a pair of blocks near the end zone for a 78-yard score.
Currin, who tore some ligaments in his shoulder in a game last month, said there was no better painkiller.
“It didn’t really feel that bad, actually,” Currin said. “(The touchdowns) made it feel better.”
East Mills’ defense, meanwhile, never let Griswold get going. Of the Tigers’ 12 possessions, eight ended in punts and two ended on turnovers on downs. Defensive lineman Judson Magers also fell on a Griswold fumble, and halftime ended the home team’s other opportunity.
The Tigers’ best chance came after quarterback Holden Ogg hit Ken Clary on a 55-yard screen pass that set up a first down at the Wolverine 13 as they trailed 12-0 in the second quarter. But East Mills stuffed Clary on his next carry before forcing a pair of incomplete passes. Griswold fumbled on fourth down.
“That was the thing we talked about all week is we’ve got to win this game,” Irwin said. “We don’t want to leave it up to somebody else. We wanted to make sure we take care of it, and our kids did a great job responding to that.”
East Mills outgained its counterpart 432-187 in total yardage, with Hopkins netting 121 yards on 19 carries and Colby Jennings (42 yards rushing) and Stortenbecker (40) also finding openings.
Clary led Griswold (4-4, 3-3) with 68 yards rushing on 18 carries.
The District 8 standings remain muddled heading into the regular season’s final week. A-H-S-T clinched the district title with a win over Logan-Magnolia, but East Mills and Riverside each follow at 4-2, ahead of Griswold, Lo-Ma and Westwood at 3-3.
East Mills holds the tiebreaker over Riverside after beating the Bulldogs 41-7 on Sept. 13.
“The line’s blocking good, the running backs are running hard, receivers are catching it and running good routes — and I guess I’m throwing good balls,” Currin said. “This felt good; it got us into the playoffs, I hope.”
East Mills (6-2, 4-2) ............................ 12 6 6 8—32
At Griswold (4-4, 3-3) ............................ 0 0 0 0— 0
EM: Lane Stortenbecker 4 run (kick failed)
EM: Travis Tupper 90 pass from Logan Currin (kick failed)
EM: Michael Story 78 pass from Currin (kick failed)
EM: Joshua Hopkins 3 run (conversion failed)
EM: Hopkins 4 run (Hopkins run)
RUSHING: EM, Colby Jennings 14-42, Lane Stortenbecker 12-40, Logan Currin 1-(-1), Joshua Hopkins 19-121, Luke Stortenbecker 1-(-5), Dawson Spurgis 1-7, team 1-(-2). G, Ken Clary 18-68, Tyler Muhlbauer 10-13, Caleb Schaaf 10-45, Holden Ogg 4-12, team 2-(-6).
PASSING: EM, Logan Currin 8-12-0 230; Jacob Schafer 0-1-0 0. G, Holden Ogg 2-7-0 55.
RECEIVING: EM, Travis Tupper 2-99, Michael Story 2-91, Gabe Barney 2-32, Jennings 1-6, Lane Stortenbecker 1-2. G, Caleb Schaaf 1-9, Clary 1-55.