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St. Croix Central's Cody Nyhagen leaps high into the air between a pair of Mondovi defenders for one of his seven receptions on Friday.

St. Croix Central's airshow bombards Mondovi 40-16

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Oshkosh is known for having Wisconsin's greatest air show, the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh. If St. Croix Central's football team keeps throwing the ball with the success it did on Friday, Oshkosh may soon get second billing.

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The Panthers threw the ball for 383 yards on Friday as they bombarded Mondovi 40-16.

The win lifts Central into second place in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference standings with a 2-1 record. The Panthers will try to add to their win total this Friday when they host Boyceville at 7 p.m. in the annual SCC Homecoming game.

Central's offensive performance on Friday didn't start spectacularly for the Panthers. In fact, they fell behind 16-0 in the first quarter. The Panther defense couldn't stop Mondovi running back Nick Van Fleet early in the game and he ended up rushing for 122 yards.

Once the gun sounded to end the first quarter, the Panthers looked like a new team. Quarterback Carl Moll was unstoppable, passing for 383 yards. That total ranks highest in the state among teams that reported their statistics to wissports.net, which is serving as the clearinghouse for all state football stats. The 383 yards and five touchdown passes both represent new Panther school records.

Dante Carlson and Cody Nyhagen both had monster games as Moll's primary receivers. Nyhagen's 216 receiving yards ranked second in the state and Carlson's 11 receptions tied for third place among the receivers in the state.

Though they didn't score, the Panthers' offensive progress started in the first quarter on Friday. The Panthers drove to the Mondovi 5-yard line before being stopped on downs. Mondovi then drove 95 yards to build its lead to 16-0.

In the second quarter Moll connected with Carlson on a 46-yard touchdown at the 7:44 mark. Moll and Carlson connected again with 2:21 left in the half on a 5-yard score.

The Panthers then used the clock effectively, scoring with 14 seconds left in the half on a 6-yard run by Moll. The two-point conversion put the Panthers in front 20-16 at halftime.

There was now no way for Mondovi to stop the Panthers. Central added two touchdowns in the third quarter, on passes from Moll to Nyhagen which covered 19 and 29 yards. The Panthers notched their final score at the 6:52 mark of the fourth quarter on another run by Moll.

"Carl's had an amazing two weeks," said Central coach Tony DiSalvo. In the previous week's win over Colfax, Moll passed for 248 yards.

In addition to his 383 passing yards, Moll was Central's leading rusher with 60 yards on 14 carries.

DiSalvo said Carlson's emergence as a sure-handed receiver has been critical to the success of the passing game.

"The more weapons you have, the more difficult you are to defend. We're a lot different team than we were two weeks ago. We have a lot more confidence," DiSalvo said.

The Panthers took advantage of Mondovi's resistance to changing defenses. When the Panthers went to three-receiver sets, Mondovi stayed in its base defense, leaving receivers uncovered on the perimeter. That resulted in the Panthers generating an eye-popping amount of big plays. Central had seven plays that covered 29 or more yards during the game.

"That's the beauty of this offense," DiSalvo said. "If you have to run, you run. If they aren't going to defend the pass, you throw the ball."

While Mondovi didn't make defensive adjustments, Central did. The Panthers were able to slow down Mondovi's power ground game by making several key changes. The Panther defense came up with several short-yardage stops to end Mondovi possessions.

Nyhagen was as much of a factor on defense as he was on offense. He led the Panthers with 17 tackles from his safety position. Linebackers Alec Lamberty and Brandon Booth were also in double figures for tackles in the game.

The defense will get another physical challenge in this Friday's game. Boyceville is similar to Mondovi, with both teams trying to run between the tackles by controlling the line of scrimmage.

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Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
(715) 243-7767 x242
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