THE ROUT IS ON: Rampage take sledgehammer to Warriors, advance
WEBSTER CITY – The goal was always to win the game, but the Midwest Rampage was also out to prove a point during Saturday afternoon’s Southern Plains Football League playoff quarterfinal round.
Consider that point made.
Behind the strong right arm of quarterback Ben Jass, the sure hands of wide receiver Gunnar Wyatt, the workhorse-like effort from running back Ross Haren and the no-nonsense demeanor of the defense, the Midwest Rampage smothered the Steele County Warriors on both sides of the ball on a wet and muddy field at the Webster City High School.
The Rampage scored the game’s first 15 points and then the final 36 to pummel the Steele County Warriors, 51-6, and advance to this weekend’s semifinals. The black and orange improved to 8-2 and set a franchise record for most wins in a season.
“During warmups, in a downpour, the team was jacked and felt confident we were going to take care of business,” Rampage head coach Matt Girdley said. “It was a great win to advance to the semifinals.”
It was also a bit of a reprieve from an early-season battle with the Warriors that went the Rampage way, 14-13, but it wasn’t pretty.
Jass completed 14 of 21 passes for 358 yards and a team-record five touchdowns. Wyatt was on the receiving end of five of the completions; he covered a whopping 237 yards and reached the end zone three times.
Jass, an addition to the roster early in the season, has thrown for 1,453 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. Wyatt (923 yards, 14 TDs) is nearing 1,000 receiving yards.
Haren busted off 178 yards on the ground and scored twice on 21 carries. He upped his season total to a franchise-record 1,040 yards; he’s celebrated 17 TDs.
“It was a great showing by both the offense and defense,” Rampage linebacker Nick Plueger said after generating 10 tackles. “The team has definitely found its groove and is peaking at the right time.”
The Rampage piled up a team-record 524 yards of offense, while the Black Plague Defense limited the Warriors (3-6) to 226 yards and forced five turnovers. Warriors’ quarterback Jake Scharpen was picked off four times, twice by Collin Mann and once by Joe Cason and Herb Bolden.
Veteran linebacker John Elkin led the way with 11 tackles, including a sack and forced fumble. Shon Osborn also had a sack, one of his three stops.
Jass and Wyatt were in sync early; touchdown bombs of 78 and 53 yards quickly put the Rampage in charge 13-0.
Steele County took advantage of a turnover and scored its only touchdown late in the first quarter on a 14-yard toss from Scharpen to Gabriel Kartes, but it was all Rampage the rest of the way.
A 38-yard field goal by Chuck Tack ignited the 36-point surge over the final three quarters. Jass rifled a 31-yard TD pass to Kris Schult, and then he found Haren open for a 35-yard TD to push the Rampage cushion to 31-6 at the half.
Haren took charge after the half with touchdown scampers of 46 and 47 yards and, just for good measure, Jass unleashed another bomb to Wyatt for a 90-yard TD.
The Rampage – which finished the season unbeaten at home – will make the trek to Truman, Minn., on Saturday to stare down the South Central Hawgs (8-1) with a trip to the league championship game on the line. The Hawgs edged the Rampage, 10-3, when they met on May 31.