From the first play of the game on, it was bad karma for 6-4 Cherokee, as the Wolfpack intercepted a Cherokee pass and immediately scored a touchdown on their second possession of the game to take a quick 7-0 lead, thanks to all-stater Theo Bartman's 30-yard TD gallop untouched into the end zone.
The Wolfpack held the Braves three and out, and on their next possession, Bartman raced 43 yards to paydirt to give HWC a 14-0 lead with just three minutes gone in the game.
When the first quarter was over, so was the game to the deflated, lethargic Braves, as HWC carried a 27-0 lead into the second period thanks to a QB Tyler Wolterstorf pass to untouched receiver Bryce Groeneweg that covered 58 yards, and another Bartman TD for 11 yards.
Scoring on nearly every possession, the Wolfpack tacked on two more TDs in the second quarter on a 9-yard run by Ben Vant Hul, and a 36-yard beauty by Bartman to stake the hosts to a 42-0 first-half lead.
The Braves did manage to score a TD with four seconds left in the half on a nifty 75-yard pass and run from Matt Pitts to fleet Nick Parker, with Pitts' PAT making it 42-7 at halftime.
The Braves put up two fourth-quarter TDs and HWC one to round out the 82-point salvo recorded by the two teams. Cherokee scored on a 41-yard pass from Pitts to Seth Mahnke, and a 63-yard TD pass from Pitts to Parker, while HWC's Heath Bonestroo scored on an 8-yard run.
Pitts was 12-28 passing for 341 yards, three TDs, and four interceptions, with several passes dropped by the Cherokee receivers. The Braves managed just 21 yards rushing on 12 carries against the tough HWC defense that had shut out four opponents this fall. Parker led the Braves rushing with three carries for 16 yards.
The Wolfpack rushed 52 times for 437 yards, with Bartman carrying it 10 times for 186 yards and four TDs - all in the first half. Vant Hul rushed 15 times for 109 yards. Wolterstorff was 4-6 passing for 91 yards, one TD, and one pick.
Dan Bieber led the Cherokee defense with 14 tackles, followed by Alanzo Ruble 10, Schuck nine, and Brock Dagel seven. Ege had the one Cherokee interception.
HWC totaled 15 first downs to Cherokee's six.
"This game was more us then them," said a disappointed Cherokee co-head coach Kurt Reynolds. "We weren't ready to go. It was not a good start (interception and immediate TD). They're a good team in a tough District, but we handed them the game.
"We knew that Bartman was trouble and a great back. He sees the holes and cuts back and is quicker than the film shows. We didn't tackle well and were slow to react. After that first quarter, we pretty much had to pass every down and that hurt us.
"This was a fun group and we accomplished a lot of our goals, though this finish will certainly leave a bad taste in their mouths. They competed hard every game and they're great kids. They just kept battling as they have all year. Bad things happened early and changed the whole game. I hope the kids will remember all the positives of this season."
As usual, the Cherokee coaches made no excuses, even failing to mention the Braves played without three key starters out with illness.
HWC, runner-up in District 1 to undefeated Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley, plays at Eagle Grove Monday night. The Eagles are 9-1 and District 2 champions and beat Sioux Center in the State Playoffs Wednesday night. Cherokee finished third in District 2, and Sioux Center was fourth in District 1.