It took the Winnebago Lutheran football team about a quarter to find its rhythm on Saturday.
Call it Homecoming distraction.
When the Vikings finally locked in, any faint glimmer of a Mayville upset was quickly extinguished.
Mitch McFarlane scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams and Winnebago Lutheran used a 35-point second quarter to destroy Mayville 56-0 in Flyway Conference play Saturday afternoon at WLA, becoming playoff eligible with the victory.
“I wasn’t worried in the sense of the game getting away from us, but I wanted us to come out hitting on all cylinders, especially after a Springs week in which we didn’t do a lot offensively,” Winnebago Lutheran coach John Boggs said. “We got out of our game a little bit and out to a rough start, but the second quarter shows who we are.”
In the Vikings’ loss to St. Mary’s Springs last week, the team managed only three points and struggled to move the ball with any consistency.
That was not the case against Mayville.
Leading 7-0 after the first quarter on the strength of an Eric Schmitz touchdown run, Winnebago Lutheran (5-3, 3-2 Flyway) quickly turned a relatively close game into a blowout.
Austin Burton began the second period with a short touchdown run, but it was only big plays after that. McFarlane returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown minutes later, then followed with a 47-yard reception from Schmitz for a score.
Joe Herrewig then caught a 44-yard TD pass from Schmitz and McFarlane capped off the half with a 45-yard interception return for a score and a 42-0 WLA lead.
“I was just looking to make a play for the team,” McFarlane said. “We had the wind behind us in the second quarter, which was nice for the passing game. We just calmed down a little bit as a team and let the game come to us.”
Schmitz added another touchdown run in the third quarter and Micah Roecker concluded the game’s scoring with a short score in the fourth.
After that first quarter, in which Winnebago Lutheran had a fumble and committed a couple of penalties that wiped out big plays, it was pretty much smooth sailing. With players like McFarlane and Schmitz, who can contribute in multiple ways, the Vikings showed they’re a force to be reckoned with when playing like they’re capable.
“We can score on the ground, we can score passing and we can be a team that goes out and pushes you to your limits,” Boggs said. “I was proud that we responded. I think in the first quarter, we kind of had a Homecoming layover a little bit. I was happy with how we responded to a bad start.”
Winnebago Lutheran finished with 329 yards on offense, 200 coming on the ground, and held Mayville (2-6, 2-3 Flyway) to only 84 total yards.
Schmitz was 5-of-6 passing for 129 yards and two touchdowns, while McFarlane had four catches for 85 yards to go along with his plays on defense and special teams. Noah Westphal rushed for 60 yards to lead Winnebago Lutheran on the ground.
While the win guarantees the Vikings a .500 record in the Flyway and puts them in the playoff discussion, they need a victory over Lomira next week in their regular-season finale to lock up a postseason spot. That’s what Winnebago Lutheran is now focused on.
“It’s a good challenge for us,” Boggs said of Lomira. “Both teams are 5-3, we’ve got a game up in the conference. They boast one of the best running backs in our conference, so it’s going to be a challenge. We realize though that we don’t just want to be playoff eligible. We have higher aspirations than that. After this win today, we want to go to Lomira and show what we can do. We want to hit the ground running going into the playoffs.”
Mayville…0 0 0 0 — 0
Winnebago Lutheran…7 35 7 7 — 56
WLA— Eric Schmitz, 2 run (Mason Herkstroeter kick), 7:39.
WLA— Austin Burton, 4 run (Herkstroeter kick), 11:22.
WLA— Mitch McFarlane, 75 punt return (Herkstroeter kick), 7:39.
WLA— McFarlane, 47 pass from Schmitz (Herkstroeter kick), 5:47.
WLA— Joe Herrewig, 44 pass from Schmitz (Herkstroeter kick), 2:05.
WLA— McFarlane, 45 interception return (Herkstroeter kick), 0:14.
WLA— Schmitz, 5 run (Herkstroeter kick), 5:40.
WLA— Micah Roecker, 2 run (Herkstroeter kick), 11:16.
First downs…4 10
Total yards…84 329
Passes (C-A-I)…1-4-1 5-6-0
Passing yards…-3 129
Rushing: Mayville— Austen Steger, 15-41. Winnebago Lutheran— Noah Westphal, 5-60; Austin Burton, 6-42; Eric Schmitz, 8-38.
Passing: Mayville— Wesley Weiglein, 1-4-1–3. Winnebago Lutheran— Eric Schmitz, 5-6-0-129.
Receiving: Mayville— Darren Feucht, 1–3. Winnebago Lutheran— Mitch McFarlane, 4-85.
Sam Oleson: (920) 907-7930, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @sam_olesonFDL