Willmar steamrolls Apollo
WILLMAR -- After two grinding overtime losses, the Willmar Cardinals had a breakout half to end the regular season.
Quarterback Mark Dunham directed five touchdowns in the first two quarters for a 35-6 lead and the Cardinals went on to bury St. Cloud Apollo 42-12 on Thursday night.
The win secures a home game at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, as the No. 3 seed in Section 2AAAA, vs. Marshall (4-4).
Willmar finished 4-4 overall with a 3-4 record in the Central Lakes Conference. The losses included back-to-back overtime setbacks at Sauk Rapids and Rocori.
Apollo, which whipped Willmar 34-12 last fall, but has given up an average of 38 points per game this season, finishes the schedule 0-8 and will likely travel to play 8AAAA No. 1 Sartell.
Willmar was stopped the opening possession, but on the second chance, Dunham directed a three-play drive from midfield. He threw 24 yards down the stadium sideline to Taylor Filipek, and then Grant Schow went off right tackle 20 yards to paydirt.
Schow added a five-yard dash to make it 13-0, after Mitch Fader's kick, at 4:03 of the first quarter.
Dunham, who hit 9 of 11 throws the first half, completed a 47-yard pass to Jacob Damhof that got Willmar down to the Eagles' nine. Fullback Nathaniel Swoyer got a huge hole and went in untouched from there.
Alex Taylor returned Fader's kickoff 91 yards for a TD to cheer up Apollo.
But Dunham came right back with an option pitch to Jeremy Schendel, who found open space in front of the Cardinal bench and dashed down the sidelines for a 45-yard TD run.
The next Willmar possession started at the Cardinals' 11. On third-and-long, Dunham hit Ryan Lawler for a 24-yard gain.
On the next play, Dunham hit Lawler downfield and this time he broke free for a 60-yard score and a 35-6 halftime bulge.
The offensive line continued its late-season improvement; Schow had his second straight century game getting 123 yards in 16 carries.
Dunham finished 11-for-13 for 234 yards and Lawler had four catches for 123 yards.
Defensive end Patrick Schueller had another huge game getting in on 17 tackles while Swoyer and Gabe Amon had 14 each.
Willmar 42, SC Apollo 12
SC Apollo 0 6 6 0 -- 12
Willmar 13 22 0 7 -- 42
Wil - Grant Schow 20 run (kick fail)
Wil - Schow 5 run (Mitch Fader kick)
Wil - Nathaniel Swoyer 8 run (Fader kick)
Apo - Alex Taylor 91 kickoff return (kick fail)
Wil - Jeremy Schendel 45 run (Swoyer run)
Wil - Ryan Lawler 60 pass from Mark Dunham (Fader kick)
Apo - Dylan Babiracki 1 run (kick fail)
Wil - Schow 17 run (Fader kick)
St. Cloud Apollo
First downs: 15 ... Rushing: 62-238 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 4-11-54-1 ... Fumbles lost: 1 ... Penalties: 5-35
Rushing: Alex Taylor 11-31, Dylan Babiracki 9-7, Chris Rocheleau 28-129 ... Passing: Babiracki 3-9-44-1, Evan Voit 1-1-10-0, Mike Thielen 0-1-0-0 ,... Receiving: Joey Schmidt 1-30, Blake Hagberg 1-6, Derek Steve 1-8, Nick Thorton 1-10 ... Punting: Rocheleau 3-35.0 ... Interceptions: none ... Fumble recoveries: none
First downs: 17 ... Rushing: 28-186 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 11-13-234-0 ... Fumbles lost: 0 ... Penalties: 4-25
Rushing: Mark Dunham 3-(-7), Nathaniel Swoyer 2-16, Grant Schow 16-123, Jeremy Schendel 1-45, Ryan Horning 5-8, Alex Grove 2-1 ... Passing: Dunham 11-13-234-0 ... Receiving: Ryan Lawler 4-123, Jacob Damhof 1-47, Schendel 1-(-2), Blake Graves 1-15, Taylor Filipek 4-40 ... Punting: Swoyer 4-38.0... Interceptions: Filipek 1... Fumble recoveries: Kevin Schoenberg 1 ... Tackles (solo-assist): Patrick Schueller 17, Swoyer 14, Gabe Amon 14, Jake Rambow 10, Schendel 1, Damhof 4, Nate Esboldt 5, Zach Cordes 5, Filipek 5, Matt Heitzman 2, Brandon Zuidema 2, Schoenberg 1, Derrick Loiselle 6, Lupe Navarro 3, Mitch Johannes 2, Jason Guvalson 1, Nick Aaker 1, Eugene Stepen 6, Andrew Chermak 4, CJ Barkley 1, John Schlegel 6, Cole Chrostopher 4, Jake Broberg 1, Adam Fagerstrom 9, Matt Suedbeck 1 ... QB sacks: none