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Tom Mix, Published October 23 2012

Hawley defeats United North Central in Class 2A, Section 8 football playoffs

HAWLEY, Minn. – High school football games are officially won or lost at the end of regulation.

That may be true, but the Hawley football team believes the seeds of a win are planted in the first quarter.

The Nuggets have placed a high importance on getting out to fast starts in their games in the last month of the regular season and did so in their opening playoff game on Tuesday.

Hawley cruised to a 48-7 win over United North Central in the quarterfinals of the Minnesota Class 2A, Section 8 playoffs at Hawley High School.

With the victory, Hawley plays Frazee in the semifinals at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Leading the way on Tuesday was senior Josh Johnson, who rushed for 87 yards and two touchdowns, caught a highlight-reel

27-yard pass and picked off two passes on defense.

But it was all about the start for the No. 5-ranked Nuggets, who are the No. 1 seed in the section.

“Ever since the middle of the season, we have been starting really good,” Johnson said. “Whenever we do that, we get on a roll and we just can’t stop then. That is our goal each game.”

The Nuggets got a refresher in how important starts to games are when they trailed Pelican Rapids 14-0 earlier in the season. Hawley survived the scare, posting a 20-14 win, but ever since then starts have been the focus.

“We made a deal with ourselves after we had our slow start against Pelican Rapids,” Hawley head coach Peder Naatz said. “We put the onus on the kids and said we are not going to have any slow starts anymore. We can’t afford to do that.”

Hawley jumped out to a 21-0 lead after the first quarter. Sophomore quarterback Jordan Harms scored a 10-yard rushing touchdown, capping off the Nuggets five-play opening drive.

Johnson followed with rushing touchdowns of 40 and 6 yards.

Johnson’s lone reception set up another Hawley score before the conclusion of the second half.

“Josh needed this game,” Naatz said. “He probably didn’t catch as many balls as he should have during the course of the season or had as many thrown to him as he should have.

“He ran the ball extremely hard. He had a great opportunity to play tailback with Chris Buttke out and Alex Ames playing fullback.”

Hawley (9-0) led 40-7 at halftime.

UNC quarterback Brandon Junes connected with Keiler Skaro for a 5-yard pass on fourth down for the Warriors lone touchdown.

Harms was 3 of 4 passing for 98 yards and a touchdown.

“It is good to get an early win,” Harms said.

Sophomore tight end Ben Ellefson caught two passes for 71 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown for Hawley. He also had a 6-yard touchdown run.

Sophomore running back Dillon Omberg led all Hawley rushers with 100 yards and a touchdown.

Jordan Yliniemi totaled 64 rushing yards on 16 carries for the Warriors (1-8).

UNC 21 19 0 8–48

H 0 7 0 0–7

H–Harms 7 run (Althoff kick)

H–Johnson 40 run (Althoff kick)

H–Johnson 6 run (Althoff kick)

UNC–Skaro 5 pass from Junes (Mueller kick)

H–Ellefson 49 pass from Harms (Althoff kick)

H–Ellefson 6 run (kick failed)

H–Ames 1 run (kick failed)

H–Omberg 7 run (Omberg run)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: UNC, Yliniemi 16-64, J. Skoog 1-0, Kjellberg 1-2, Huttenen 5-10, Junes 5-7, Puttonen 1-0. H, Johnson 5-87, Ames 7-67, Harms 4-18, Omberg 13-110, Ellefson 1-6, Lawson 6-22, Cook 2-13, Leaf 2-12, Wamre 2-4.

PASSING: UNC, Junes 6-22-3–40, Schwartz 1-1-0–64. Eckman 0-1-0–0. H, Harms 3-4-0 –98, Lawson 1-2-0–10.

RECEIVING: UNC, Schwartz 2-16, Skaro 4-81, Yliniemi 1-7. H, Ellefson 2-71, Johnson 1-27, Hanson 1-10.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562