Round 2: Lena-Winslow vs Forreston
The rivalry was revisited in the playoffs for the 7th time, but it is Le-Win who runs away with a 38-8 victory
Forreston - When you look up the rivalry between Forreston and Lena-Winslow, it began 20 years ago in week 1 with Lena-Winslow winning a hard fought game 19-12 to open the 2001 season in the newly formed NUIC. Looking at the series from that moment forward there are a lot of moments that have permanently been encapsulated in time to form arguably the greatest rivalry we have seen in conference history.
The history of these two teams now measures out to 20 regular season contests, 7 playoff contests, and none more important than the previous 5 playoff games over the last decade that have gone on to show who the state champion would end up being.
Meeting for the 2nd time in as many weeks, where Forreston pulled out a 22-20 win in a week 9 showdown with a 22 play drive that covered 89 yards as time expired, this game had a lot of anticipated hype behind it. Despite holding a playoff series lead 4-2 over Forreston, Lena-Winslow had only outscored the Cardinals by 2 points in the previous 6 games, 125-123.
On Saturday night in front of a crowd that was estimated at close to 4,000 people, with fans standing all the way around the track, stands packed to capacity, and fans standing on the hill by the main entrance to see this game of giants play out, it was all Lena-Winslow in a 38-8 rout.
Forreston would start the game with the ball, but only gaining 2 yards on 3 plays they were forced to punt.
The Panthers would take over their first series from their own 48 yard line, and begin to drive the ball. However, the Cardinal defense would force a turnover on downs.
Lena-Winslow would force another Forreston punt before taking over at their own 33 yard line. Marey Roby would rip off a 36 yard run. Runs by Brady Eilders, Ethan Fye, and Roby would continue moving the Panthers down the field before Roby hit the end zone on a 2 yard plunge with 3:06 left to play in the 1st quarter. Roby would add the 2 point conversion to give Le-Win an 8-0 lead.
Forreston would put its best drive of the game together, beginning at their own 40 yard line. Noah Johnson would pick up the biggest play of the game for the Cardinals with a 28 yard run to move into Le-Win territory. Matthew Beltran would add another 12 yards, but entering the 2nd quarter facing a 4th and 7 at the Panther 17 yard line, a Logan Dyson pass to Matthew Beltran fell incomplete for a turnover on downs.
This would put Le-Win on the attack again. With run plays by Roby, Fye, and Jake Zeal, the Panthers would get the ball past midfield before Roby broke loose for an apparent TD run. A flag on the play would bring the ball back to the 40, but Roby would strike again on the same play, with the same result for a TD, but this time it would stand. Zeal added the 2 point conversion to give Le-Win a 16-0 lead with 5:17 to play in a blazing fast 1st half.
Trying to make things happen, Forreston would attempt get hit with a 5 yard loss as Jacob Fiorello took a pitch to his right and Gage Dunker was there to meet him right as he caught the pitch. On the ensuing play Logan Dyson dropped back to pass as a backside rush got to him before he could throw creating a fumble that Roby would pick up for Le-Win. After a conversation to discuss if the arm wasn't going forward, it was determined the fumble stood as the Panthers took over at the Cardinal 34 yard line.
It only took 2 minutes and Le-Win was on the board again as Roby found the end zone for his 3rd TD of the game. Dunker added the 2 point conversion as Le-Win pulled out to a 24-0 lead they would take into half scoring on 3 consecutive drives and dominating the first half.
The second half would pick up where the first half ended. Le-Win began the 3rd quarter receiving the kick. Luke Benson would connect with Jace Flynn for 31 yards to push the Panthers into the red zone. This would end with Benson keeping the ball on a keeper on a plunge up the middle for the TD. The 2 point try failed, but Le-Win was up 30-0 with 9:10 to play in the 3rd quarter.
Desperately trying to make things happen after getting pinned deep on the kickoff, Dyson would drop back to pass from their own 17 yard line trying to hit DeVonte King-Black, but Benson was there on the defensive side of the ball to pick it off.
Setting up at the Cardinal 46 yard line, the Panthers would make quick work of it as a short time later Roby picked up the final 23 yards for the score. Zeal would add his 2nd conversion of the night as Le-Win pulled out to a 38-0 lead with 6:13 still to play in the 3rd quarter.
Forcing another Forreston punt, the Panthers began to go on the drive again, in what appeared to be the opportunity to put up a running clock. During the drive the Panthers began pulling the starters and subbing in the underclassmen before the drive stalled at the Forreston 27 yard line.
The Cardinals would continue to fight and get on the board as Dyson found Fiorello on a 9 yard TD pass with 8:25 left in the game. Dyson would pass to Cole Becker for the 2 point conversion to bring the final to 38-8 in favor of Le-Win.
Forreston ends their season with a record of 8-3.
Le-Win moves onto the quarterfinals where they will play host to NUIC foe Fulton (9-2) in another rematch, where the Panthers won 54-7 back in week 7.
Marey Roby led the Panthers with 166 yards rushing and 4 TD's, along with a fumble recovery. Gage Dunker added 59 yards rushing, while Ethan Fye picked up 44 yards rushing. Luke Benson added a rushing TD while passing for 33 yards on the night.
Noah Johnson had 60 yards rushing to pace the Cardinals, with Matthew Beltran picking up 39 yards on the ground and DeVonte King-Black chipping in with 30 yards rushing.