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Cardinals' home opener spoiled

The Willmar defense stuffs Brainerd running back Dan Lauer for a one-yard loss in the second quarter Friday night at Hodapp Field in Willmar. Cardinal tacklers from left, are Coty Milhausen, Landon Peterson and Jeff Duininck. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton

WILLMAR -- The Brainerd Warriors scored 26 straight points in the first half and went on to beat the Willmar Cardinals 32-18 on a damp Friday night at Hodapp Field.

The outcome is hardly a surprise. Brainerd (2-0) rolled to its eighth straight victory over the Cardinals, though this was perhaps the most competitive.

But at least the Cardinals' spirits might be improved after springing Grant Schow for a pair of third-quarter touchdowns to close to 26-18 and make the final score respectable.

Schow, the accidental goat a week ago in a 22-21 loss at Alexandria, redeemed himself with exciting touchdown runs of 70 and 45 yards. His 28-yard catch-and-run on the game's first possession set up Willmar's first score, a one-yard burst off right tackle by senior fullback Nathanial Swoyer.

Brainerd controlled the rest of the half. But Willmar took stock at halftime and came out with resolve.

By the end of the rainy night on a slippery field, the Cardinals in their new St. Louis Cardinal 1970-style helmet and duds nearly matched the big 5A school in total yardage -- 335 for the visitors and 322 for Willmar.

Willmar's passing game that was so effective in the first half at Alexandria, fizzled in the drizzle. Quarterback Alex Grove, whose 68-yard keeper on the first possession energized the small stadium crowd, had trouble mounting handling the ball. The sophomore ended up with 50 yards passing on 6 of 19 with a pick but he proved a threat on the run gaining 120 yards in 12 keepers.

Schow, a 175-pound senior whose 70-yarder was a cutback, piled up 151 yards, all but 24 in the second half.

Turnovers were even at game's end (two each) but it might have been worse if it weren't an alert Ryan Lawler, who recovered three teammate fumbles.

Mitch McLain, Brainerd's junior quarterback, seemed unfazed by the light rain to start the game. He rolled out to complete his first three passes, two going for touchdowns, and later swerved through the Cardinal defense on a 24-yard keeper for a 26-6 halftime lead.

Matt Pohlkamp was the Warriors' workhorse gaining 106 yards in 19 carries.

The Cardinals (0-2, 0-2) got off to a swift start. Sophomore shotgun quarterback Alex Grove faked a handoff busted around left his left red and white uniforms and Cardinal decal on wearing uniforms

Brainerd 32, Willmar 18

Brainerd (2-0, 2-0) 14 12 0 6 -- 32

Willmar (0-2, 0-2) 6 0 12 0 -- 18

Wil - Nathanial Swoyer 1 run (kick blocked)

Brd - Matt Pohlkamp 11 pass from Mitch McLain (Zach Cadwell kick)

Brd - Jordan Hayes 62 pass from McLain (kick fail)

Brd - Hayes 2 run (Cadwell kick)

Brd - McLain 24 run (kick fail)

Wil - Grant Schow 70 run (run fail)

Wil - Schow 45 run (kick fail)

Brd - Pohlkamp 9 run (kick fail)


Team statistics

First downs: 15 ... Rushing: 46-217 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 5-7-118-0 ... Fumbles lost: 2 ... Penalties: 6-60

Individual statistics

Rushing: Mitch McLain 10-56, Jordan Hayes 13-44, Matt Pohlkamp 19-106, Mitchell Bzdok 1-2, Daniel Lauer 1-9 ... Passing: Mitch McLain 5-7-118-0 ... Receiving: Jordan Hayes 2-80, Matt Pohlkamp 1-11, Nate Gervenak 2-27 ... Punting: Mitchell Bzdok 3-78 ... Interceptions: not available ... Fumble recoveries: not available


Team statistics

First downs: 7 ... Rushing: 30-271 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 6-19-51-1 ... Fumbles lost: 1 ... Penalties: 4-57

Individual statistics

Rushing: Alex Grove 12-120, Grant Schow 17-151, Nathaniel Swoyer 1-1 ... Passing: Alex Grove 6-19-51-1 ... Receiving: Grant Schow 3-35, Ryan Lawler 3-16 ... Punting: Nathaniel Swoyer 4-32.3... Interceptions: none ... Fumble recoveries: Andrew Chermak 1, Nate Johnson 1 ... Tackles: Ryan Lawler 1, Jacob Damhof 4.5, Gabe Amon 6.5, Nate Esboldt 3, Landon Peterson 7.5, Zech Streed 1.5, Jake Rambow 6, Nathanial Swoyer 6, Coty Milhausen 6.5, Andrew Chermak 6.5, Matt Cordes 1.5, Cole Christopher 1.5, Jeff Duininck 1, Nate Johnson 2, John Schlagel 1.5 ... QB sacks: none

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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