In a much hyped game around the state, "The Rivalry" was the main stage on Friday night as Lena-Winslow and Forreston matched up in a game of 1 vs 2. Both teams on paper looked to match-up with each other, but one draw back in this game was that it was going to be played in Forreston, where entering the game the Panthers held a 9-1 advantage. The lone Forreston home win came back in 2016 when the Cards went undefeated for their 2nd state title. It has been talked about all week, as these two teams have combined for 5 of the last 6 state titles. Another interesting fact; these teams have never played to a running clock in their history. The closest it has ever come was in the 2016 quarterfinals where Forreston won 44-6.
As the game opened up, Le-Win was set to receive the ball, and would open up their first possession from their own 37 yard line. The first play of the game was an emphatic one, as the Forreston defense stopped Le-Win's Ronny Valentine for a 4 yard loss. The Panthers would rebound from that, as Marey Roby would pick up 23 yards on his first 3 carries to move the Panthers into Forreston territory. Once again the Forreston D would get a big stop, and force a 4th down, as the Forreston crowd went crazy. It would be the last time you would hear the Forreston crowd get that loud the rest of the night. From the Forreston 45 yard line, Luke Benson dropped back and found Marey Roby up the left seam for a 45 yard touchdown pass. The two point conversion was tacked on, and Le-Win had an 8-0 lead with 8:55 to play in the 1st quarter.
Forreston would start their first possession from their own 35 yard line, as the kickoff had sailed out of bounds. Just 26 seconds later, the Cards would turn the ball over to Le-Win at the Forreston 38 yard line. Not being able to do much, the Panthers would punt as the Forreston run D controlled the line early and stuffed the middle. A perfect punt by Sean Ormiston went to the left corner of the field, and gently took a nice bounce out of bounds at the Forreston 2 yard line.
Starting from their own 2 yard line, the Panthers would stand tall and force the Cards to punt. Bailey Cullor would give the Cards some room, as he was able to pin the Panthers at the Forreston 44 yard line punting from his own endzone.
The Panthers would get to work, trying to get Sean Ormiston some room to run, but the Forreston D kept keying on him and shutting him down. This allowed Luke Benson to roll out left and pick up an easy 11 yards. A couple plays later and Benson would add on another touchdown, as Le-Win would take a 16-0 lead heading into the 2nd quarter.
Forreston would put its best drive of the night together, starting from their own 27 yard line. Using runs from 8 different carriers, they would slowly chew clock and drive the field. A big 23 yard run by Cayden Shelton pushed the Cards into Panther territory. A Cullor to Jakob Boomgarden 14 yard pass picked up a big first down on a 3rd down play that almost saw Cullor get sacked before moving to his left, scrambling upfield, and throwing the ball to Boomgarden coming across the field to his left. The Cards would be knocking on the door, getting down to the Panther 2 yard line, but were pushed away after the drive ended on a turnover on downs after taking 6 minutes off the clock.
The lethal injection to the Cards fate came just two plays later, as Ronny Valentine found a hole off left tackle, made one cut up field to his right, and a wide open lane up the left sideline saw him outrun everyone for the score. After the two point score, the Panthers were up 24-0 with 5:17 left until halftime.
Forcing Forreston to punt on back to back 3 and out drives, the Panthers would tack on two more scores on a Roby 24 yard touchdown run, and an Ormiston 6 yard touchdown run that would see the Panthers take a 38-0 lead into the half.
Forreston would get on the board with 4:40 left in the 3rd quarter on a Dom Christensen 4 yard touchdown run. The ensuing kickoff was fumbled by Le-Win, and the Cards recovered at the Le-Win 36 yard line. Just four plays later they would turn it over on downs.
After being shut down most of the game, the Panthers were able to get Ormiston going, thanks in large part to wearing the Cardinal front down. Picking up a huge 27 yard run down the right sideline after running off tackle and going outside behind a block, Ormiston would run through a defender and keep going before being brought down from behind. He would get another run up the middle, pulling a defender holding on, then he would break through another defender from behind, before he bullrushed two more defenders that finally took him down. He would add another 22 yard run off left tackle, one that once again showed his sheer strength as he lowered his shoulder to fight one defender, then shouldered off another defender, before the third defender finally took him cut down at his legs. Jack Setterstrom would punch it in from 4 yards out. The two point conversion was tacked on, and the Panthers had the clock rolling for the first time ever in this series as they were up 46-6 with 11:29 left in the 4th quarter.
The Cards would get on the board with 3:20 left in the game as Bailey Cullor would run a QB keeper to his right off tackle for a 24 yard touchdown run, as his dive for the endzone had the ball get over the goal line just inside the pylon as he was hit going in. The Cards would add 2 more points on the conversion attempt to bring the final to 46-14 in favor of Le-Win.
With the win, Le-Win is now 10-1 all-time against Forreston, in Forreston. They also hold the advantage 14-5 in the regular season, and 4-2 in the playoffs. In total, Le-Win leads the series 18-7 over the Cards.
For the game, Le-Win would put up 422 yards of offense, with 80 yards passing and 342 yard rushing, while holding Forreston to 207 yards of offense, as the Cards had 14 yards in the air and 193 yards on the ground.
Le-Win was led by Ronny Valentine, who finished the night with 132 yards rushing on just 6 carries and 1 touchdown. Marey Roby would tack on 68 yards rushing with 1 touchdown, and 45 yards receiving for another touchdown. Sean Ormiston would end his night with 92 yards rushing on 16 carries and 1 touchdown. Luke Benson was 3-4 passing for 80 yards and 1 touchdown, while rushing for 18 yards and another score.
On the other side, Forreston was led by Cayden Shelton with 45 yards rushing, while Braden Politsch added 43 yards. Dom Christensen would finish his night with 25 yards rushing and 1 score.
Le-Win (7-0) will head back home next week to face Galena (1-6), while Forreston (6-1) hits the road with the South Division conference title on the line with Aquin (7-0).