The defense forced six turnovers and Walker-Hackensack-Akeley took advantage of four of those miscues to score touchdowns in a 43-6 win at Cass Lake-Bena Friday night in the Battle of 371.
The victory moves the Wolves to 5-1 with their final two games at home, including Friday night’s Homecoming battle with 4-2 Warroad.
WHA’s defense recovered five fumbles and picked off one pass. The Wolves also forced a few other fumbles that the Panthers were fortunate to recover.
Ethan Anderson picked off a pass that set up WHA’s first score, with Tom Hansen, Dylan Johnson, Caden Opheim, Cole Rasmussen and TJ Smith each recovering a fumble.
Cass Lake-Bena was held to only 159 yards of offense, with 91 of those yards coming in the second half against the JV squad.
WHA finished with 326 yards of offense, of which 260 were on the ground. The Wolves jumped out to a 36-0 halftime lead as they accumulated 254 yards of offense.
Steven Hausken led the team with 81 yards on nine carries with a touchdown run. Jackson MacFarlane rushed for 61 yards and two scores, Gavin Johannsen had 34 yards and a touchdown, Kai Ashmore 35 yards and Riley Welk 21 yards. Mason Schneider was 6-6 on extra points.
Welk completed 6-8 passes for 54 yards and two touchdowns. MacFarlane caught four passes for 35 yards and a touchdown, and Anderson two receptions for 18 yards and a score.
Trevor Radke finished with five total tackles, Johannsen and Smith each had four, and Opheim three.
The Wolves won the toss and elected to receive the ball. WHA drove into Cass Lake territory, only to turn the ball over on downs. Two plays later Anderson picked off Taylor Dahl’s pass near midfield and was tackled at the 44.
Five plays later Welk and Anderson connected on a 15-yard pass play. The snap was high to Welk on the conversion, but after eluding a handful of defenders found Anderson open in the end zone across the field for an 8-0 lead.
A deep kick by Schneider followed by a three-and-out, coupled with a short punt, gave WHA great field position at the 27. Welk threw his second touchdown pass on a three-yard pass to MacFarlane with Schneider adding the extra point for a 15-0 lead after one quarter.
The next time Cass Lake touched the ball, Hansen recovered a bad handoff on second down at the 14-yard line. Three plays later Johannsen plowed through the line for a three-yard score with Schneider adding the extra point for a 22-0 lead 37 seconds into the second quarter.
Forced to get back in the game, the Panthers tried a trick play that didn’t work. A fake punt only picked up a couple of yards on fourth down, and WHA took over at the Panthers’ 39.
It only took three plays for the Wolves to score, and this came after a holding penalty negated Hausken’s 12-yard touchdown run. On the very next play, Welk faked a pitch to Johannsen, who was in motion, and handed the ball to MacFarlane who got outside the right end and scored on a 22-yard run.
Schneider followed with the extra point and boomed the kickoff that Cass Lake-Bena returned about 20 yards to the 39. The Panthers picked up their first down on the ensuing possession, but a couple of plays later Rasmussen fell on a bad snap near midfield.
After picking up two first downs, WHA fumbled the ball at the 23, only to get it right back when Johannsen forced a fumble that was recovered by Opheim at the 46. WHA got inside the 10, but a dropped touchdown pass that Colton Hein threw perfectly forced a 30-yard field goal that Cass Lake blocked.
The Vikings’ defense wasn’t finished as Johnson recovered a fumble of another bad handoff with .02 seconds remaining in the half. That was more than enough time as Pfeiffer called his wife’s favorite play — the reverse — with Rasmussen having a key block that sprang MacFarlane on the 39-yard scamper. Schneider followed with the extra point as WHA led 36-0 at the half.
Cass Lake received the second-half kickoff but once again fumbled the ball away with Smith falling on the pigskin. On the next play Hausken took the handoff and sprinted around the left end for a 31-yard score.
The Panthers’ only score came with under three minutes left in the game on a 47-yard run. Cass Lake then attempted an on-side kick, but the ball never travelled 10 yards and WHA took over at the 48 and went into the victory formation as the clock ran out.