ROCK RAPIDS - The highly anticipated game between two major Class 2A District foes turned into a rout here Friday night, as the 6-1 Central Lyon/George-Little Rock Lions roared past the 4-3 Cherokee Braves 49-7.
Both teams were undefeated in district play with 4-0 records, but the Lions, whose lone loss was to undefeated and third-ranked Class 3A power Le Mars in the season opener, was simply too tough over all for the Braves passing offense to compete against.
Cherokee lost two non-district tussles to start the season against 3A foes Spencer and Storm Lake, although both games were tight all the way.
Obviously bigger than the Braves at every position and feeding off two early, first-quarter touchdowns after short Cherokee punts following three-and-out possessions, CL/G-LR forged a convincing 29-7 halftime lead. A 20-0 scoring tear in the second half sealed the deal, with the 35-point mercy rule's continuous clock burning much of the final period.
Sketchy statistics phoned in from the Rock Rapids hinterlands late Friday night revealed that Cherokee QB Tyler Jones finished the game completing 18-36 passes for a season low 131 yards, one TD, and two interceptions.
Leading receivers for the Braves were Chris Campbell with eight catches for 53 yards, and Kyle Schuett three catches for 40 yards.
It was Schuett's 29-yard pass catch from Jones that accounted for Cherokee's lone TD in the second quarter. Andy Dawson kicked the PAT for the Braves total points.
The host Lions scored two TDs in the first quarter, two more in the second, and three in the third to create the run-away.
Lion QB DeJong tallied three TDs on runs of 16, two, and 53 yards in CL/G-LR's tricky option offense. Running back Wiersma (sorry, no first names, Mom!) scored on runs of five and three yards. And, for the record, Lions #28 and #2 tallied TDs on runs of 12 and 34 yards, respectively.
The winners controlled the ball throughout with their running game, totaling a whopping 466 yards on 56 carries, with DeJong completing 3-6 passes for 23 yards.
"We never had the ball," said Cherokee coach Tony Napierala, "They are a really good team and their running game controlled the ball. At times we played decent, but we really were never in it. Their running backs are bigger than our linemen.
"We didn't protect our punter early and they got prime field position and scored early and then the whole thing just snowballed on us. We really missed Josh Mugge (Braves senior linebacker/receiver and one of team's leading tacklers out with injury)."
Leading tacklers for the busy Cherokee defense were Tim Jones with 15, Nick Loughlin 12, Ben George 12, Andy Dawson 11, Mark Johnson 10, Nick Daum seven, and Matt Koch seven.
Cherokee tallied just seven first downs in the game, while the Lions rang up 16.
Cherokee plays at previously undefeated and ranked Sioux Center Friday, which lost its first game of the season at Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley Friday night by a score of 7-6. The Braves beat B-H/RV 22-21 in overtime earlier this season and could still make the state 2A playoffs with a win over Sioux Center.