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Willmar unable to overcome slow start; falls to Sauk Rapids

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WILLMAR -- The Storm struck like lightning time after time at Hodapp Field on a chilly Friday night.

The Willmar Cardinals took the hits.

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When it was over, Sauk Rapids-Rice had posted an impressive 35-14 win in Central Lakes Conference play.

The Cardinals saw a two-game winning streak snapped like a sapling in a hurricane. They're home again on Friday against Rocori with a shot yet at finishing the regular season at .500.

The quicker Storm went to 5-1 to stay in the Central Lakes Conference race.

The Storm blasts had Willmar reeling in front of a crowd approaching 1,600.

The Cardinals first touchdown -- a four-yard pass from Alec Saunders to his tight end John Sawatzky -- made it 14-7.

With just 1:26 left in the second quarter, it looked like anyone's game as halftime neared.

But the Storm's number two quarterback, Jarrod Mauren, directed a six-pass, 60-yard drive in 60 seconds to score again and it was 21-7 at half.

The Storm scored directly out of the halftime locker room. Cody Meyer took Jordan Smith's kickoff at the one-inch line and ran it back to the Willmar 28.

On first down, No. 1 quarterback David Kroger found Jon Beam all alone over the middle in the back of the end zone. Shion Lanz, as long and sure-footed as Willmar's Jordan Smith, kicked his fourth of five extra points for at 28-7 lead.

Willmar did answer with an 80-yard drive directed by Saunders, who bulled the last foot, to make it 28-14 but that was it for the offensive point production.

The Storm would strike once more on a 61-yard run by Cody Meyer on first down after stopping a Willmar drive.

Saunders and Mark Dunham shared duty at quarterback. Dunham got Willmar moving in the second quarter completing sideline passes to Taylor Filipek for 23 yards, Smith for 30 and Filipek again for 28.

With the rushing game getting just 88 yards in 33 tries, the long, arching passes were Willmar's best weapon. Dunham and Saunders combined for 219 yards passing with Filipek nabbing 6 for 126.

Sauk Rapids piled up 367 yards of offense. Fullback Erick Larson bulled for 84 yards in 14 tries and Meyer picked up 96 in five totes.

Sk. Rapids 35, Willmar 14

Sauk Rapids 7 14 7 7 -- 35

Willmar 0 7 7 0 -- 14

SR - Tyler Thelen 33 run (Shion Lanz kick)

SR - Michael Ruter 10 run (Lanz kick)

Wil - John Sawatzky 3 pass from Alec Saunders (Jordan Smith kick)

SR - Jon Beam 11 pass from Jarrod Mauren (Lanz kick)

SR - Thelen 28 pass from David Kroger (Lanz kick)

Wil - Saunders 1 run (Smith kick)

SR - Cody Meyer 61 run (Lanz kick)

Sauk Rapids

Team statistics

First downs: 14 ... Rushing: 35-245 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 9-12-122-0 ... Fumbles lost: none ... Penalties: 5-42

Individual statistics

Rushing: Michael Ruter 4-21, Tyler Thelen 1-33, Cody Meyer 5-96, Sam Elliott 5-33, Eric Johnson 14-84, David Kroger 1-(minus 5), Lucas Sorum 2-8, Joe Myerchin 2-(minus 2), John Statz 1-6 ... Passing: Kroger 3-3-58-0, Jarrod Mauren 6-9-64-0 ... Receiving: Cody Meyer 1-26, Jon Beam 1-11, Thelen 1-27, Johnson 1-2, Tyler Hendrickson 1-9, Zach Leyk 4-47 ... Punting: Kroger 3-34

Willmar

Team statistics

First downs: 17 ... Rushing: 33-88 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 14-30-219-1 ... Fumbles lost: none ... Penalties: 3-15

Individual statistics

Rushing: Mark Dunham 1-(minus 6), Jordan Smith 1-1, Isaiah Streed 4-15, Alec Saunders 19-49, Stevin Carlson 7-21, Brad Kallhoff 1-2 ... Passing: Dunham 6-11-103-1, Saunders 8-19-116-0 ... Receiving: Streed 1-9, Taylor Filipek 6-126, Smith 5-75, Colin Erickson 1-6, John Sawatzky 1-3 ... Punting: Smith 3-35 ... Interceptions: none... Fumble recoveries: none ... Tackles (solo-assist): Nathan Boie 1-1, Smith 1-3, Zach Cordes 0-1, Alec Saunders 4-7, Justin Hamman 1-5, Logan Birkland 3-3, Taylor Filipek 1-0, Colin Erickson 0-1, Derek Loiselle 0-1, Tim Chermak 2-0, Adam Fagerstrom 0-2, Cody Stegeman 1-5, Kallhoff 0-1, Nathanial Swoyer 3-6, Marshall Swoyer 0-1, Joel Hedlof 0-3, Elijah Nash 1-5, Joe Wetterling 0-3, Patrick Schueller 0-2, Ryan Filipek 1-0, Chris Duscher 0-2 ... QB sacks: none

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