The game had the story line. Young coach versus seasoned veteran. Undefeated conference champions squaring off with each other for the right to play in the semifinals. Two storied programs playing against each other for the 3rd time in 7 seasons in the playoffs. And just like that, the game was underway.
Aquin received the ball to start the game, and quickly went 3 and out and were forced to punt with just 46 seconds off the clock. The Panthers would take over from their own 46 yard line, and put Sean Ormiston to work. With 7 plays in the game, the Panthers found themselves down to the Aquin 1 yard line where Ormiston would become the NUIC's all-time leader in rushing touchdowns, with his 59th of his career breaking a tie with Dakota great Jake Apple. The Panther would tack on 2 points and take an 8-0 lead with 7:34 left in the 1st quarter.
On their next possession, Aquin didn't favor much better. The Bulldogs would fumble the ball and Ethan Gift would recover at the Aquin 29 yard line. A couple plays later and Bruce would take the ball in from 10 yards out. The 2 point conversion was good, and Le-Win was up 16-0 with 3:29 to play in the 1st quarter.
Aquin would once again go 3 and out after gaining just 3 yards and were able to punt the ball away. A penalty helped back the Panthers up to their own 23 yard line to start their 3rd possession. Ormiston would fight for 1 yard, and then Marey Roby would go off tackle to his right, make a guy miss, and then cut back to his left up the middle of the field and he was off to the races for a 76 yard touchdown run. The 2 point try was unsuccessful this time, but Le-Win was up 22-0 with 53 seconds remaining in the 1st quarter, a lead they took into the 2nd quarter.
After another possession that netted 5 yards and a punt, Le-Win was starting from their own 44 yard line. Moving the ball on the ground with Ormiston as the workhorse, they would get down to the Aquin 21 yard line. Luke Benson would fake the lead, drop back, and connected with Kade Chrisman for a 21 yard touchdown pass. Once again the 2 point try was unsuccessful, but Le-Win was up 28-0 with 8:33 until the half.
After a squib quick had the Bulldogs start in their best field position they would see all game at their own 43 yard line, they began to make some plays on the ground as Will Gustafson was able to get some room running, and was also helped out by a 15 yard facemask penalty. With 4:24 left in the half Gustafson would punch it in from a yard out. Evan Broge added the extra point kick, and Le-Win led 28-7.
On their 5th possession of the game, the Panthers started from their own 47 yard line. A run by Bruce would push them past midfield, and then Ormiston would take a trap up the middle, get hit and stumble, lost his balance, but somehow kept his feet under him as he was able to break away for a 39 yard touchdown run. This time the 2 point try was good, and Le-Win was up 36-7 with 3:10 until the half.
The Dawgs would go 3 and out again after Le-Win turned up the defense. Ormiston would get the ball two times in a row, and get a Panther 1st down. On the very next play, Benson would drop back again and found Chrisman on the right hash for a 41 yard touchdown pass. The 2 point try was good and Le-Win was up 44-7 with a 1:07 left in the half, a lead they took to halftime.
Starting the 2nd half, Le-Win began driving, but they would fumble the ball at the Aquin 31 yard line. Aquin would take over, but once again wouldn't amount much offense as they were forced to punt. The punt only went 5 yards, and allowed Le-Win to start from the Aquin 44 yard line. Just two plays later Bruce took the handoff off right tackle and outran everyone down the right sideline for a 39 yard touchdown run that would get the clock rolling with 6:19 to play in the 3rd quarter, as Le-Win went up 52-7.
Aquin would tack on two more scores against the reserves, both touchdown runs by Gustafson, but it wasn't enough today as the Panthers had control from the onset.
Aquin was held to 119 yards of offense on the day, with 101 rushing yards and 18 passing yards. Will Gustafson led the charge with 18 attempts for 41 yards and 3 touchdowns. He was 2-11 passing on the day for 18 yards as the Le-Win front 4 didn't allow him much time to find his targets, and when he did he was either being pressured or his passes were tipped or batted down at the line. Ty Stykel chipped in with 60 yards rushing on 15 attempts.
For the Panthers, they put up 400 yards of offense with 338 yards on the ground and 62 yards in the air. Sean Ormiston carried the load with 157 yards rushing on 22 attempts with 2 touchdowns. Isaiah Bruce added 65 yards rushing on 4 attempts with 2 touchdowns. Luke Benson and Kade Chrisman connected twice for 62 yards and 2 touchdowns. Marey Roby pitched in with 112 yards rushing on 5 carries and 1 touchdown.
Aquin ends their season with an 11-1 mark, but will bring back a lot of their guys next year.
Le-Win improves to 12-0 and will take to the road in the semifinals to play Annawan-Wethersfield, who also improved to 12-0 with a 20-13 win over Morrison (11-1). The game will be played at Wethersfield High School in Kewanee, and kickoff is scheduled for 1 pm.