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Northwestern, Ruffi roll into first in HON (updated)

Northwestern's Reagan Ruffi (7) looks for running room in Friday night's 35-7 win over Hayward. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)1 / 9
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Mike Granlund

For The Telegram

The Northwestern High School football team rolled to another impressive win Friday at Gordon L. Nelson Field with a 35-7 victory over the Hayward Hurricanes.

Coupled with a Chetek-Weyerhaueser upset win over Bloomer, Northwestern finds itself in a tie for first place at 4-1 in the Heart O’ North Conference with Bloomer. Cumberland, Northwestern’s opponent this week, would have gained a first-place tie as well, but the Beavers were upset by the Spooner Rails 60-20.

Reagan Ruffi was again the big story for the Tigers as the junior running back rushed for 266 yards and four touchdowns. He now has 974 yards on the season.

“Our offensive line was outstanding tonight,” NHS coach Jovin Kroll said. “They opened some big holes for Reagan and then he added to that with his speed, agility, and moves.”

Northwestern took the opening kickoff and went 66 yards on 14 plays to take the early lead with Ruffi running over from 4 yards out. Isaac Nichols’ extra point kick made it 7-0.

Hayward returned the ensuing kickoff to the 29 and moved the ball to the one. But the Tigers stopped Hayward on a fourth-and-goal play and followed with a 99-yard drive that took 17 plays and ended with Andrew Hanson scoring from 1 yard out as time expired in the first half.

Northwestern’s dominance on offense, limited Hayward to just one possession in the first half.

The Tigers stopped Hayward on the opening drive of the second half and followed with a 55-yard, 10-play drive that ended with a Ruffi 3-yard TD.

Another defensive stop set up Ruffi’s 10-yard scamper that made the score 28-0 early in the fourth quarter.

Hayward then eschewed its strict running game and went on a long drive, mostly passing, behind quarterback Phil Ziegle. The drive ended when Riley Donague ran it in from five yards and Jory Thunder kicked the PAT.

An 18-yard TD run by Ruffi completed the scoring with 2:30 remaining.

Hanson also ran for 45 yards for the Tigers and Keegan Plasch added 41. Kade Bartelt was 3-of-4 passing for 46 yards with Brody Payton grabbing two passes for 28 yards.

Defensively, Tyler Ronning and Nate Ohman led the Tigers with six tackles each. Jake Brill and Dayne Evenson each had four tackles.

Northwestern held Donague to 42 yards rushing on 21 carries. Hayward did gain 122 yards through the air, with Ziegle mostly finding Brady Christianson and Craig Burger.

“I thought the real key was our goal-line stand on Hayward’s first drive,” Kroll said. “Defensively we worked hard on stopping Riley Donaghue and the Hayward run. Their passing success has alerted us to work on that, especially with the Cumberland aerial show coming to town next week.”

Northwestern hosts Cumberland for its annual homecoming game at 7 p.m. Friday.

A win over the Beavers, and another win the following Friday at Ladysmith, would give Northwestern at least a share of a third straight HON title.

Cumberland quarterback Kobe Berghammer was leading the state in passing coming into Friday’s games.

Hayward................... 0      0       0      7    —    7

Northwestern............ 7      7       7     14    —   35

First Quarter

N — Reagan Ruffi 3-yard run (Isaac Nichols kick).

Second Quarter

N — Andrew Hanson 4-yard run (Nichols kick).

Third Quarter

N — Ruffi 3-yard run (Nichols kick).

Fourth Quarter

N — Ruffi 10-yard run (Nichols kick).

H — Riley Donaghue 2-yard run (Thomas Cadotte kick).

N — Ruffi 20-yard run (Nichols kick).

TEAM STATISTICS

Total Plays.......................... 41               58

First Downs.......................... 11               22

First Downs.......................... 11               22

Rushing............................... 97              362

Passing.............................. 6-10             3-4

Passing Yards.................... 114              46

Total Offense...................... 211             408

Penalties............................ 2-20            6-40

Time.................................. 20:32          27:28

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — H, Phil Ziegle, 78; Spencer Blanchard, 39; Riley Donaghue, 40; Brock Beilke, 19; Hunter Hessel, 9. N, Reagan Ruffi, 30-266; Andrew Hanson 12-45; Keegan Plasch, 5-41; Bryson Mazur, 1-12; Kade Bartelt, 5-7; Trevor Janowicz, 1-1.

PASSING — H, Ziegle, 5-9-0-75. Blanchard, 1-1-0-39. N, Bartelt, 3-4-0-46.

RECEIVING — H, Unknown, 3-66; Ziegle, 1-31; Blanchard, 1-10; Donaghue, 1-7. N, Brody Payton, 2-28; Ruffi, 1-18.

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