Willmar steamrolls Rocori

COLD SPRING -- Willmar's offense gained a lot of ground in its first two games, but the Cardinals weren't able to pick up a victory. Friday wasn't any different, but the Cardinals were able to outscore their opponent this time around as three fir...

COLD SPRING -- Willmar's offense gained a lot of ground in its first two games, but the Cardinals weren't able to pick up a victory.

Friday wasn't any different, but the Cardinals were able to outscore their opponent this time around as three first-quarter touchdowns sparked Willmar to its first win, allowing the Cardinals to roll past Rocori 41-12 in a battle of winless Central Lakes Conference football teams.

Alex Grove pushed his way into the end zone from four yards out and threw a 53-yard scoring strike to Ryan Lawler on the first play of the Cardinals' third possession. That came in a span of just over 5½ minutes to give Willmar a 21-0 lead in the opening quarter.

The sophomore quarterback threw for 155 yards in the first half after completing 13-of-19 passes. He finished 17-of-30 for 262 yards, while Lawler caught six passes for 98 yards.

Grove and the Cardinals will look to keep the momentum going when Sauk Rapids rolls into Willmar next Friday for the Cardinals' homecoming game.


Sandwiched between the scores was Nathanial Swoyer's two-yard touchdown scamper.

Willmar (1-2, 1-2) scored on its first three possessions and the first two drives needed only six plays each.

Jeremy Schendel hauled in a 39-yard pass from Grove to bring Willmar down to the Rocori 13-yard line to ignite the Cardinals' second drive.

Jacob Damhof and Landon Peterson picked off Rocori junior quarterback Nathan Meyer and the Willmar defense forced Rocori (0-2, 0-3) to punt six times in the first half. Damhof returned his pick 49 yards to give Willmar another great scoring opportunity.

The Cardinals capitalized as Mitch Fader booted a 25-yard field goal two minutes into the second half, giving Willmar a comfortable 24-0 lead. It would stay that way until Rocori found the scoreboard early in the third quarter.

Willmar avoided trouble to start the second half as a snap over Grove's head was downed by Willmar at its own two-yard line. A short punt finally gave the Spartans the ball in Willmar territory and Rocori wasted no time as Meyer capped a three-play drive with a six-yard touchdown run.

But Willmar answered immediately when Blake Graves got behind the Rocori secondary to score on a 62-yard pass from Grove after the Spartans' kickoff.

Rocori then pieced together a 13-play drive that resulted in another six-yard touchdown run from Meyer. The Spartans failed to convert the two-point conversions on both touchdowns and Willmar took a 31-12 lead into the final quarter of play.


The Cardinals put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter when Fader booted another 25-yard field goal and Schendel took a pitch from Grove to score on a five-yard run. Fader was good on all five extra-point kicks after misfiring on two attempts last week against Brainerd.

The Cardinals were able to move the ball without much trouble as they turned the ball over only once -- Grove's harmless interception late in the first quarter which was followed by Damhof's pick of Meyer -- after they had six turnovers in the first two games. Willmar has gained over 300 yards of offense in its first three games.

It was Willmar's first win over the Spartans since the Cardinals upended Rocori 33-14 to open the 2005 season.

Willmar 41, Rocori 12

Willmar (1-2, 1-2) 21 3 7 10 -- 41

Rocori (0-2, 0-3) 0 0 12 0 -- 12

Wil - Alex Grove 4 run (Mitch Fader kick)

Wil - Nathianal Swoyer 2 run (Fader kick)


Wil - Ryan Lawler 53 pass from Grove (Fader kick)

Wil - Fader 25 FG

Roc - Nathan Meyer 6 run (pass failed)

Wil - Blake Graves 62 pass from Grove (Fader kick)

Roc - Meyer 6 run (pass failed)

Wil - Fader 25 FG

Wil - Jeremy Schendel 5 run (Fader kick)



Team statistics

First downs: 17 ... Rushing: 25-117 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 17-30-262-1 ... Fumbles lost: none ... Penalties: 3-30

Individual statistics

Rushing: Grant Schow 8-27, Alfred Richards 8-63, Jeremy Schendel 1-5, Jason Gunvalson 3-20, Ryan Horning 1-2, Nathanial Swoyer 1-2, Alex Grove 8-11, Nate Johnson 1-(-17) ... Passing: Alex Grove 17-30-262-1 ... Receiving: Grant Schow 5-7, Ryan Lawler 6-98, Blake Graves 2-87, Nate Johnson 2-29, Jacob Damhof 1-4 ... Punting: Nathanial Swoyer 3-35.3 ... Interceptions: Jacob Damhof 1, Landon Peterson 1 ... Fumble recoveries: none ... Tackles (total): Coty Milhausen 9, Jacob Damhof 8, Gabe Amon 8, Jake Rambow 6, Andrew Chermak 6 ... QB sacks: Jon Schlagel 1, Mitch Johannes 1


Team statistics

First downs: 9 ... Rushing: 25-86 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 10-32-57-2 ... Fumbles lost: none ... Penalties: 9-60

Individual statistics


Rushing: Nathan Meyer 11-85, Cody Luethmers 6-7 ... Passing: Nathan Meyer 10-32-57-2 ... Receiving: Sam Moriarty 3-28, Shawn Terres 1-5, Brian Hervin 2-36 ... Punting: Sam Moriarty 7-32.3 ... Interceptions: Sean Terres 1 ... Fumble recoveries: none ... Tackles (solo-assist): not available ... QB sacks: not available


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