MOORHEAD, Minn. — Win-E-Mac had its 1,000-yard rusher in Nathan Fortmann. Warren-Alvarado-Oslo had its 1,000-yard rusher in Brandon Miller.
“But they don’t have a Gavin Walker,’’ Win-E-Mac high school football coach Aaron Cook said.
The right arm of Walker was the offensive difference maker Friday as Win-E-Mac handed Warren-A-O a 48-6 loss in the quarterfinals of the Minnesota 9-man football playoffs.
While the defenses of both teams held the running games in check in the first half, Walker was 8-of-17 for 146 passing yards in the first two quarters. The junior quarterback passed for two touchdowns as the Patriots built what proved to be an insurmountable 32-0 lead at halftime.
That came against a Ponies defense that had held five consecutive opponents to 12 or fewer points.
“When teams key on Nathan, we rely on Gavin,’’ Cook said. “He can throw. He can run.
“Our plan was to throw a little more in this game. We thought if we could spread the field, Gavin would get the ball to our athletes. And he did a good job.’’
The Patriots led 8-0 after one quarter when Walker hit Fortmann on a crossing pattern for a 24-yard TD.
A safety and three touchdowns in the second quarter gave the Patriots the 32-0 halftime edge. A 25-yard run on a reverse by end Kobe Hamre set up a 4-yard Remy Goodwin touchdown run. Walker hit Hamre in stride 40 yards downfield and Hamre went in for a 70-yard touchdown pass.
Then, with 10 seconds left before the half, Fortmann scored on a 3-yard run. Walker completed four passes for 42 yards and had two 13-yard scrambles for first downs on the drive.
“Their defensive line did a pretty good job of stopping the run in the first half,’’ Walker said. “We had to go more to the pass to open up our running game. That (146 passing yards) is a pretty good half for me; I normally end up with those kinds of numbers in a good passing game.’’
The key score, Cook said, was Hamre’s long touchdown reception.
“That one really got our guys going,’’ Cook said. “Kobe got by the defense and Gavin put it right into his hands.
“We don’t always throw a lot. But that’s a typical game for Gavin when we’ve had to rely more on the pass.’’
Fortmann and Walker adding rushing touchdowns in the third quarter. Miller broke loose for a 54-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter for the Ponies’ lone touchdown. That accounted for most of the Ponies’ yardage, as Win-E-Mac held a 383-73 advantage in total yards.
“Our defense is pretty good,’’ Cook said. “Our ends did a good job of containing their runs on the outside. And it was one of our better games as far as swarming to the ball.’’
Win-E-Mac takes a 12-0 record into next week’s state semifinals. Warren-A-O closed its season with an 8-4 mark.