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Prep football playoffs: Moose Lake-Willow River breezes into state semifinals

ST. CLOUD, Minn. -- Dave Louzek didn't have to do much to motivate his Moose Lake-Willow River football team for Friday's Class AA state tournament quarterfinal against Breckenridge.

ST. CLOUD, Minn. -- Dave Louzek didn't have to do much to motivate his Moose Lake-Willow River football team for Friday's Class AA state tournament quarterfinal against Breckenridge.

The Rebels coach went to school Sunday and wrote a straightforward message on the chalkboard: 44-14.

That was the score by which Pierz ripped the Rebels in the 2007 quarterfinals at Husky Stadium.

All week at practice, Moose Lake-Willow River players had to look at that score and remember the pain they felt a year ago.

"We definitely wanted to erase that from our memory," Rebels running back Nate Zuk said.

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Mission accomplished. The Rebels scored on the second play from scrimmage and dominated the rest of the game, winning 46-0 on the campus of St. Cloud State.

Zuk rushed for 224 yards on 20 carries and scored three touchdowns as the Rebels (12-0) advanced to play either defending champion Caledonia or Norwood-Young America at 5:45 p.m. Friday at the Metrodome.

"From the first day of practice -- whether we were preparing for Pine City or getting ready for Rush City -- the whole season we talked about preparing for Pierz as a reminder of what happened to us last year," Louzek said.

The game was in running time by early in the fourth quarter.

"Coming to the state quarterfinals, you always expect to grind it out -- we punt, they punt, we punt, they punt, a 7-0 game," said Zuk, who had 201 yards in the first half and closed in on 1,600 for the season. "But our linemen did a great job getting downfield and opening holes for us running backs."

The Rebels didn't take long to exert their dominance. Austin Jacobson took a pitch left and ran through a huge hole untouched 57 yards to the end zone on the second play.

While the Cowboys concentrated on Jacobson and Zuk, quarterback Joe Bohaty faked to both running backs and found Dan Anderson open down the middle for a 32-yard scoring pass on a play that worked repeatedly in the Section 7AA final against Deer River.

On their next drive, the Rebels needed only three plays to score. Zuk took a toss left and the 6-foot-2, 215-pound senior raced untouched down the sideline for a 19-0 lead.

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"That helped a lot. Once we got up by three scores, it's tough for anyone to come back," said Jacobson, who had 144 yards rushing on 16 attempts and went over 1,000 for the season.

After Zach Thomas entered the scoring summary with a 16-yard run, Zuk turned the game into a rout as he ran over several potential tacklers on a 14-yard touchdown in the final minute of the half to give Moose Lake-Willow River a 33-0 lead.

"You get to a state quarterfinal ... every team is a great team," said Louzek, who didn't expect this team to win so easily. "It just comes down to controlling the line of scrimmage, and we definitely did."

If Louzek's smart, he'll write down the score of the Rebels' 2006 state semifinal loss on the chalkboard this week.

"We expect to do it next week -- we're not done," Jacobson said. "To win a state championship has been our goal from the start."

Moose Lake-WR 13-20-0-13--46

Breckenridge 0-0-0-0--0

MLWR -- Austin Jacobson 57 run (Nate Zuk kick)

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MLWR -- Dan Anderson 32 pass from Joe Bohaty (kick blocked)

MLWR -- Zuk 56 run (pass failed)

MLWR -- Zach Thomas 16 run (Zuk kick)

MLWR -- Zuk 14 run (Dave Cisar kick)

MLWR -- Zuk 6 run (kick failed)

MLWR -- Jacobson 39 run (Cisar kick)

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
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