SOUTH WAYNE – The Warrior Express was running full tilt in the second round of the playoffs.
Third-ranked Black Hawk plastered 68 points on the scoreboard for the second straight playoff game and held one of the state’s top running backs in check the entire night en route to a 68-15 victory over the Iowa-Grant Panthers in a WIAA Division 7 Level 2 playoff football game held at Murphy Field on Friday, Oct. 27.
“Playing a bigger school and a SWAL team, I think our kids had a little chip on their shoulders and came in fired up. It was just a very hard-fought, physical game. On a cold night, that’s what you want to do– stop the run and run the ball well. I thought the kids did a nice job of both those things tonight,” said Black Hawk head coach Cory Milz.
Iowa-Grant running back Brady Peat came into the game sitting fifth in the state in rushing with 2,015 yards and he had scored 28 touchdowns. Peat was limited to just 44 yards on 23 carries and held out of the end zone by Black Hawk defense.
On offense, senior fullback Brody Milz and junior tailback Colby Argall each ran for over 100 yards and scored four touchdowns apiece to lead the Warriors (11-0 overall) over the Panthers (6-5).
“I think the kids were really charged up to face a really good running back like Peat. Our kids were excited about the opportunity to show what they can do. They just played one heck of a game. They leveraged themselves well and got off their blocks. Our offensive line did a great job of creating some space and our running backs ran hard,” stated Milz.
B. Milz got the Warriors rolling early in the game, intercepting a Ross Havlik pass on the second play of the game and breaking loose for a 56-yard touchdown run just three plays later to put the hosts ahead for good. The senior added the first of three two-point conversion runs to make it 8-0 just over two minutes into the game.
The Panthers gave the Warriors another short field to work with when they turned the ball over on downs at their own 45-yard line on their second possession, and Argall raced into the end zone from 11 yards out less than a minute later to up Black Hawk’s lead to 16-0 with 6:54 remaining in the first quarter.
I-G showed signs of life by answering with a scoring drive of the own to trim the deficit to 16-7. Sophomore Michael Winders made a leaping 25-yard touchdown grab on a pass from Havlik to get the Panthers on the scoreboard with 2:57 to play in the opening stanza.
Black Hawk came right back with another 11-yard TD run by Argall to increase their advantage to 24-7, and then the Warriors exploded for 32 points in the second quarter to build up a 56-7 halftime lead.
Argall cashed in the first of senior Michael Flanagan’s two interceptions with a 5-yard TD run on the first play of the second quarter to make it 32-7, while sophomore Avery Baumgartner plucked the ball out of the air on senior Jett Rufenacht’s blocked punt in the end zone to extend the Warriors lead to 38-7 with just over eight minutes to play in the first half.
The Panthers gambled– and lost– on three straight drives from deep in their own territory late in the half, turning the ball over on downs at their own 31, their 30 and again at the 31 on those consecutive possessions.
The Warriors took advantage of the short fields each time with B. Milz rushing in from 4 yards out and hauling in a 30-yard screen pass from Flanagan for two scores and Argall hitting pay dirt for a fourth time- this time from a yard out- to extend the lead to 56-7.
With a mercy-rule clock running continuously in the second half, both teams took advantage of their limited opportunities with the Warriors sandwiching a 4-yard TD run by B. Milz and a 23-yard scoring scamper by sophomore Jaylen Rufenacht around a 7-yard TD pass from Peat to Winders to make the final score 68-15.
Black Hawk finished the night with 396 total yards on offense and held the Panthers to 123 total yards. On the ground, the Warriors rushed 40 times for 356 yards and eight scores, while limiting the Panthers’ high-powered rushing attack to just 86 yards on 36 carries without a score.
“It was a helluva defensive effort. We were real physical on the defensive side of the ball. We were able to get their offense off the field. The kids just physically asserted their dominance tonight,” Coach Milz commented.
B. Milz ran it 11 times for 131 yards and three TDs and had one catch for 30 yards and another score. Argall gained 106 yards on 14 carries with four TDs, while Ja. Rufenacht ran four times for 56 yards and a score and junior Kyle Lovelace added 51 yards on seven totes.
Peat, who came in averaging nearly 6.9 yards per carry this season, was held to 1.9 ypc. after rushing 23 times for 44 yards. He also had one completion for seven yards and a TD.
Clayton Kite led the Panthers with 45 yards on seven carries, and Winders had two catches for 32 yards and two scores along with a two-point conversion catch.
Friday’s victory sends Black Hawk into Level 3 of the tournament for the first time since 2014. The Warriors will host Six Rivers Conference rival Potosi/Cassville (9-2) in a rematch of their week two clash at Murphy Field on Friday, Nov. 3, starting at 7 p.m.
The Warriors took down the Chieftains, 30-16, in their first meeting back on Aug. 25, and these two teams have been on a collision course for a rematch ever since with the Chieftains bent on getting some revenge for that earlier loss.
“I’m sure they’ve been waiting for a rematch, too. They’re an excellent football team. It’s going to come down to all those important things, like turnovers, ect. They’ve got explosive kids. They’ve got one heck of a defense. It’s really going to be a dogfight,” said Coach Milz.
WIAA D7 LEVEL 2
Iowa-Grant……. 7 0 0 8 – 15
Black Hawk…… 24 32 6 6 – 68
BH – Brody Milz, 56 run (Milz run)
BH – Colby Argall, 11 run (Milz run)
IG– Michael Winders, pass from Ross Havlik (Jackson Vigen kick)
BH – Argall, 11 run ( Jett Rufenacht pass from Michael Flanagan)
BH – Argall, 5 run (Milz run)
BH – Avery Baumgartner, 0 blocked punt return (run failed)
BH – B. Milz, 4 run (run failed)
BH – B. Milz, 30 pass from Flanagan (run failed)
BH – Argall, 1 run (run failed)
BH – B. Milz, 4 run (run failed)
IG– M. Winders, pass from Brady Peat ( M. Winders pass from Peat )
BH – Jaylen Rufenacht, 23 run (run failed)
Team Stats: First Downs– IG 8, BH 10. Rushing– IG 36-86; BH 40-356. Passing– IG 3-15-3, 37; BH 2-3-1, 40. Fumbles-Lost– IG 0-0; BH 2-0. Penalties– IG 1-4; BH 8-57.
BH Individual Leaders: Rushing (Att-Yds-Td)– Brody Milz, 11-131-3; Colby Argall, 14-106-4. Passing (Comp-Att-Int-Td-Yds)– Michael Flanagan, 2-3-1-1, 40. Receiving (Cat-Yds-Td)– B. Milz, 1-30-1.