The Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines used big plays on offense and a strong defensive effort, knocking off the Staples-Motley Cardinals 42-20 in the quarterfinals of the Section 6AA playoffs in Staples on Oct. 24.
The victory snaps a playoff drought for the Wolverines, it was their first playoff win since 1998 when the Wolverines defeated Roseau. It was the third straight win for the Wolverines and their second consecutive victory over Staples-Motley. It also avenged last year’s 45-0 defeat to the Cardinals in the playoffs.
Jake Dykhoff passed for four touchdowns and rushed for two more. Preston Warren finished with three touchdown receptions and two interceptions, as the defense forced five turnovers in the win. Matt Goeden finished with 141 yards on the ground, including a game-sealing 87-yard run.
“I thought everyone played very well. Our line held up very well. Matt Goeden ran the ball when we needed him and he converted on the tough downs,” Warren said. “Jake made the throws that he needed.”
Dykhoff set the tone behind strong play from the offensive line. He completed nine of his 14 pass attempts for 196 yards and four scores. He rushed for 132 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns as well.
“He (Dykhoff) delivers when he needs to,” Warren said. “He can run and he makes the passes. He does everything for us.”
Dykhoff’s favorite target was Warren. Warren finished with six receptions for 174 yards and three touchdowns.
Both teams exchanged touchdowns in the first quarter with Dykhoff hitting Warren on a 7-yard strike. Matt Goeden converted the try. Staples-Motley answered when Josh Lombard hit Griffin Webster, making it 8-8, after Dalton Holmberg rushed in the conversion.
The Wolverines took the lead for good in the second quarter. Dykhoff hit Warren for a 17-yard strike, making it 14-8. Warren tip-toed along the end line, while maintaining control of the ball for his second touchdown of the game.
“It felt great. We kind of work on that before games, just joking around in gym, catching it with the tip toes in,” Warren said. “It just feels good to do it in a game.”
Dykhoff extended the lead with a 5-yard touchdown run, making it 22-8. He hit Max Phillips for the conversion.
Staples-Motley responded with a touchdown before the half when Lombard hit Jordan Carlson, making it 22-14. The Cardinals cut the lead to two when Holmberg plunged into the end zone to start the third quarter.
The Wolverines responded with 20 straight points, pulling away for the 42-20 victory. Dykhoff rushed in from 24 yards, making it 28-20. Dykhoff found Max Phillips, who made a juggling catch for a touchdown, making it 36-20 after the conversion.
The Wolverines went for the dagger in the fourth quarter. It appeared that they were going to run the ball and work the clock. However, Dykhoff hit Warren, who broke free for a 71-yard score, making it 42-20.
“It was a great play call. Coach (Howie Kangas) is the best coach I have ever played for,” Warren said. “They were expecting the run and Jake made a perfect pass. They (the defenders) happened to run into each other and it worked out.”
The Wolverine defense came up big, ensuring a comeback would not happen. Warren, Goeden and Tyler Fitzsimmons recorded second half interceptions, forcing five turnovers on the night.
“Our defense just keeps getting better and better, week in and week out,” Wadena-DC head coach Howie Kangas said. “I always thought players make plays. You look at the coverage we had on people and a couple of key interceptions and those came off a team effort because it was pressure combined with coverage and just making plays. It was an effort of the entire team doing the right thing.”
Lombard finished with 192 yards passing with two touchdowns and four interceptions. Holmberg rushed for 125 yards on 12 carries.
The Wolverines are now 3-6 overall on the season and will take on West Central Area/Ashby on Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. in Barrett. West Central Area/Ashby defeated Wadena-DC 28-20 in their regular season meeting on Sept. 22.
WDC 8 14 14 6--42
SM 8 6 6 0--20
WDC-Jake Dykhoff 7-yard pass to Preston Warren (Matt Goeden run)
SM-Josh Lombard 18-yard pass to Griffin Webster (Dalton Holmberg run)
WDC-Dykhoff 17-yard pass to Warren (conversion failed)
WDC-Dykhoff 5-yard run (Dykhoff to Max Phillips)
SM-Lombard 13-yard pass to Jordan Carlson (conversion failed)
SM-Holmberg 5-yard run (conversion failed)
WDC-Dykhoff 24-yard run (kick failed)
WDC Dykhoff 8-yard pass to Phillips (Dykhoff run)
WDC-Dykhoff 71-yard pass to Warren (kick failed)