Northwestern got off to a fast start but ultimately fell 42-14 to Ellsworth and the one-two punch of quarterback Mason Anderson and running back Max Grand in their Wisconsin Division 3 high school football playoff finale Thursday, Nov. 19.

Anderson was 10-for-14 passing with three touchdowns and an interception, and Grand rushed 16 times for 140 yards and three more scores for the Panthers. Grand also had a 49-yard TD reception, and Ashten Quade caught two passes for 88 yards and two more scores.

The Tigers had a hard time overcoming the loss of senior fullback Brennen Werner to a lower-leg injury in the second quarter. Werner had a career-high 20 carries for 122 yards and scored both touchdowns in Northwestern’s 14-0 victory over St. Croix Central last week to open the abbreviated Wisconsin football playoffs, which were limited to a maximum of two games due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“It was a really hard-fought night,” Northwestern coach Jovin Kroll said. “Any time a leader as important as Brennen Werner goes out, it affects everything we do on both sides of the ball. The team rallied and fought as hard as they could, but eventually they put some distance between us and won the football game.”

Senior running back Colin Trautt rushed 17 times for 85 yards and a touchdown to lead the Tigers. Northwestern is used to playing with the lead, and falling behind, the Tigers were forced to pass and finished just 4-for-15 passing for 59 yards. Tanner Kaufman and Nick Makela had seven tackles to lead the defense, Jace Nelson had an interception and Ben Benes added two quarterback sacks.

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Ellsworth finished the season 8-0, while Northwestern finished 6-2.

The Tigers were coming off three straight shutouts but found the Panthers’ offense too potent to completely contain.

“We started off strong, made a few big plays to get an early lead,” Kroll said. “Then after falling behind, we tied it up before half, but their tailback was explosive, and their quarterback could spin it as well as anyone we’d seen all season. We are thankful the kids got this much of a season in. They made a lot of sacrifices to make sure to get these games, and I’m proud of what they accomplished this year.”

Northwestern 6-8-0-0—14

Ellsworth 0-20-6-16—42

NW — Colin Trautt 1 run (PAT failed)

E — Ashten Quade 9 pass from Mason Anderson (Jack Janke pass reception)

E — Max Grand 10 run (PAT failed)

NW — Austin Schlies 1 run (Traut run)

E — Quade 79 pass from Anderson (PAT failed)

E — Grand 20 run (PAT failed)

E — Grand 49 pass from Anderson (Grand run)

E — Grand 27 run (Shane Lange run)

This story was updated at 10:27 a.m. Nov. 23 with photos from the game. It was originally posted at 11:43 p.m. Nov. 19.