TRURO – The first home playoff win in school history moves Interstate 35 to 10-0 on the year and sets up another home postseason contest, this time with a spot in the UNI-Dome on the line.
The Roadrunners opened the postseason with Mount Ayr, a Week Two rematch, and looked even more dominant than the first time around winning 35-0. It was I-35’s first postseason win since 2003.
The win sets up I-35 with a contest against Dike-New Hartford, the No. 1 team in the Associated Press poll.
Interstate 35’s defense was quick and aggressive and kept the Raider offense in check throughout the first half.
“They just executed. Period,” said I-35 head coach Mike Stuart. “That comes from homework and the kids. They watch film and they came out, played hard and executed.”
With just three first downs heading into the locker room, Mount Ayr found itself down 28-0 at the half.
The game opened with a Raider three-and-out and a poor snap on a punt attempt led to I-35 recovering a loose football at the 4-yard line.
Mason Cassady needed one play to put the Roadrunners on the board, bouncing to the right hash and diving across the line into the end zone. Cassady rushed for 106 yards and the opening score.
Mount Ayr’s defense kept I-35 off the scoreboard for the rest of the quarter despite the Roadrunners starting both of their drives with quality field position.
I-35’s two other drives in the first quarter both ended with Mount Ayr interceptions as Hunter Haveman picked off a fourth down pass and Nathan Hauge grabbed another.
It wasn’t until the Raiders’ fourth drive that Mount Ayr picked up a first down on a 17-yard run by Reas Knapp, but the Raiders were forced to punt three plays later.
After the punt, I-35 drove 72 yards on eight plays and Joey Bregar bolted 7 yards to pay dirt to give the Roadrunners a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter.
The home team scored on its next two drives as well as Bregar found senior wideout Richie Griglione for a 12-yard TD strike.
Bregar then called his own number for a 14-yard score, bulldozing through two Mount Ayr defenders on the way to the end zone.
I-35 has also added some new wrinkles into their offense, lining up Griglione as a fullback to give him new ways to get into space.
“We like to move people around ... Richie, we feel we can put anywhere and he can make a difference,” said Stuart. “There aren’t a whole lot of high school kids that want to tackle him.”
Not much changed in the second half as the Roadrunners’ defense continued to stifle the Raiders offense.
“I think it’s the best football team we’ve played this year,” said Mount Ayr coach Delwyn Showalter.
Griglione pulled down a 26-yard touchdown reception in double coverage for I-35’s final score.
Showalter said after the game that the Raiders wanted to matchup Dawson Frost on Griglione, but will the versatility of the Roadrunners’ looks, including putting Griglione in the backfield, I-35 kept Griglione away from the Raiders’ biggest corner.
The Raiders offense lost its second-leading rusher in Keelan Klommhaus late in the first half after he and I-35’s Mason Woosley were ejected with unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on a Raider kickoff return. Woosley will be forced to miss I-35’s contest Friday.
“That was just an unfortunate thing all the way around. I don’t think their kid who got ejected, that’s not the kind of player he is and that’s not the kind of player Keelan is,” said Showalter.
UP NEXT – Interstate 35 will host Dike New-Hartford on Friday with a spot in the dome on the line. The win was the Roadrunners’ first postseason victory at home in school history.
Interstate 35 35, Mount Ayr 0
MA 0 0 0 0 - 0
I35 7 21 0 7 - 35
I35 – Mason Cassady 4 run (PAT kick), 10:25
I35 – Joey Bregar 7 run (PAT kick), 11:17
I35 – Richie Griglione 12 pass from Bregar (PAT kick), 3:46
I35 – Bregar 14 run (PAT kick), 2:14
I35 – Griglione 26 pass from Bregar (PAT kick)
Rushing: MA – Payton Weehler 15-73; Reas Knapp 4-24; Kolben Klommhaus 2-9; Isaac Grose 2-8; Keelan Klommhaus 3-2; Hunter Haveman 3-(-11). I35: Mason Cassady 22-106 and a TD; Joey Bregar 7-41 and 2 TDs; Richie Griglione 3-16; Jack Smith 4-16; Carter Bussanmas 2-15.
Passing: MA – Weehler 10-27-1 for 58 yards. I35: 13-18-2 for 184 yards and 2 TDs.
Receiving: MA – Dawson Frost 3-18; Ko. Klommhaus 1-14; Cayden Lambert 1-8; Grose 1-7; Haveman 2-5; Cade Clymer 1-5; Ke. Klommhaus 1-1. I35: Griglione 6-130 and 2TDs.
Tackles (solo-assists): MA – Grose 4-8; Knapp 4-8; Ko. Klommhaus 3-4; Rhett Larson 3-4; Ke. Klommhaus 1-6; Seth Shelman 2-4; Drew Willis 2-4; Trae Ehlen 1-5; Frost 2-2; John Shields 2-2; Weehler 0-4; Nathan Hauge 2-0; Haveman 2-0; Tucker Darrah 1-0. I35: Bregar 8-5; Tanner Daniels 5-2; Ethan Elliott 4-3; Grant Richardson 3-3; Antonia Arzani 3-1; Griglione 2-2; Brock Thompson 2-2; Cody Heckman 2-0; Cassady 1-1; Tyler Watson 1-1; Damen Brant 0-2; Dustin George 0-1; Caleb Hobart 0-1; Mason Woosley 0-1.
Fumble recoveries: MA – Dawson Swank 1. I35: Bregar 1.
Interceptions: MA – Hauge 1, Haveman 1. I35: Daniels 1.
Punts-avg: MA – Ko. Klommhaus 6-29.5.