St. Croix Central football advances to Level 3, defeats Northwestern 28-0

Body: 

The St. Croix Central football team will get to play at home again next Friday after the Panthers defeated Northwestern 28-0 in an incredibly windy game played at Hammond on Friday.

That game was in Level 2 of the WIAA Division 4 state playoffs. The Panthers were hoping for another shot at Middle Border Conference champion Osceola. That won't happen. Osceola, the top seed in the Division 4 sectional bracket, was upset by Bloomer on Friday, 18-12.

That means Central will host Bloomer in next Friday's Level 3 game.

With the weather dictating the action in Friday's game, the Panthers were able to use a balanced running attack to defeat Northwestern. Halfbacks Keagen Berg and Alec Fischer, fullback Ryan Larson and quarterback Collin Nelson all made major contributions to the ground attack. The Panthers opened the game with the ball, running off more than nine minutes before the opening drive was stopped deep in Northwestern territory. Northwestern ran three plays, then tried to punt. There was a bad snap on the punt, resulting in a safety that gave Central a 2-0 lead.

The Panthers then drove 60 yards for their first touchdown. Nelson scored the touchdown on a six-yard keeper, giving Central a 9-0 lead. That score held up through halftime.

Northwestern got a long kickoff return to start the second half, but the Panther defense immediately snuffed out the threat. The Panthers went down and scored again, with Nelson scoring from 14 yards out to build the lead up to 15-0.

Fischer scored Central's final two touchdowns. He finished off a drive in the middle of the fourth quarter with a 1-yard run. His second touchdown was the biggest play of the night. Northwestern tried a swing pass to a halfback, but Fischer reached up with one hand to grab the pass. He set sail down the field for a 71-yard interception return touchdown.