By J. Levi Burnfin
The Meade defense held the Smith Center Redmen to just 170 total yards in the quarterfinals of the Class 2-1A state playoffs on Friday night, leading the Buffs to an easy 28-0 win.
The Buffaloes, the defending state champions, used their vaunted running attack to hold the ball for almost twice as long as the Redmen (31:36 to 16:24), rushing for 357 yards and all four scores on 65 attempts. In contrast, the Redmen were only able to rush for 92 yards on 32 attempts.
"We really thought that we could line up and do some good things there," said head coach Scott Moshier in a telephone interview after the game. "To hold them to 92 yards rushing was huge."
Seniors Jett Little and Morgan Olvera split the running responsibilities almost evenly, as Olvera rushed for 175 yards on 29 carries and Little had 177 yards on 34 rushes. Little did have three touchdowns to Olvera's one, though, Olvera's opening score — a 1-yard run with 5:44 left in the first — would have been all the Buffs needed.
The Buffs did try to add on late in the first half, but a turnover on downs inside the Redmen 5-yard line and a fumble on the very next possession stopped both drives just short of expanding their lead.
Still, Little eventually did tack on scores of 2 and 6 yards in the third quarter, and the final touchdown came from 4 yards out in the fourth. Morgan Davis' PATs were all successful.
Little also added 39 yards through the air, going 2-of-3, and threw one interception.
It did not matter the way the Buffs defense was playing, though, as they put a stranglehold on the Redmen offense, holding sophomore quarterback Kody Molzahn to just 4-of-12 for 78 yards and picked him off once.
The Buffs will now travel to La Crosse for a 7 p.m. contest on Friday in the semifinals. This marks the fourth consecutive season the teams have played in the west bracket semifinals, with Meade winning in 2010 and 2012 en route to state titles, while La Crosse won in 2011 before losing to Centralia in the state championship game.
Meade 7 0 14 7 -- 28
Smith Center 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Meade--Olvera 1 run (Davis kick), 5:44
Meade--Little 2 run (Davis kick), 6:43
Meade--Little 6 run (Davis kick), 1:16
Meade--Little 4 run (Davis kick), 9:01
First Downs 20 7
Rushing 65-357 32-92
Passing Yards 39 78
Total Yards 396 170
Passing (Comp-Att-Int) 2-3-1 4-12-1
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 1-1
Punts-Avg 1-29 5-33
Penalties-Yards 1-5 2-10
Time of Possession 31:36 16:24
Rushing--Meade: Olvera 29-175; Little 34-177; Wiens 2-5. Smith Center: Lehmkuhl 9-31; Lambert 9-29; Rogers 6-22; Molzahn 8-10.
Passing--Meade:Little 2-3-0-1-39. Smith Center: Molzahn 4-12-0-1-78.
Receiving--Meade: Wiens 1-20; Davis 1-19. Smith Center: Rogers 3-46; Zabel 1-32.