Tate Rusk set the tone for the Brainerd Warriors.
With Willmar marching down the field on the game's opening possession, the junior free safety tackled Cardinals quarterback Mark Dunham on fourth down at the Brainerd 1-yard line.
Willmar never posed another threat as Brainerd's defense foiled the Cardinals, intercepting five passes, in a 40-0 Central Lakes Conference rout at Adamson Field Friday night.
The Cardinals charged from their 21 to the Brainerd one in five plays, including a 32-yard rush by Stevin Carlson and a 32-yard pass from Dunham to Kyle Hilding. Two plays lost a yard before Rusk came up to make the stop.
"We started off slow," Rusk said. "We had to get some pressure on (Dunham). They came with a veer right off the bat so I figured they were going to come with that again. I kind of read it well, and I came up and was just there to make the tackle."
Warrior wide receiver Michael Gervenak (82) came down with the catch with a Willmar defender on his arm Friday night in Brainerd. The Warriors defeated the Willmar Cardinals 40-0. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Brainerd intercepted Dunham four times in the first half, five times in all. Desmond Janousek had three picks, Rusk and Kyle Crocker each had one.
"You always tell a kid you never know when a big play is," Warriors coach Ron Stolski said. "
When you get down there in the first quarter, the first drive, they're at the one in about five plays and we hold, that's big."
Janousek stirred a big crowd on a gorgeous autumn evening by returning one of his interceptions 55 yards for a score late in the third quarter.
"We were in man coverage," he said. "I kind of tried to disguise it. They had a short distance to go and I kind of figured they would go a short route, out route or curl route. Luckily, I was there to get it and I had some good blocking."
Brainerd limited Dunham to seven completions in 21 attempts and 109 yards.
"We knew they had a good pass game," Stolski said. "I thought the coaches had a good plan and the kids just played. We've improved.
Warriors 40, Willmar 0
The key: Brainerd intercepted five passes.
Conference: Brd 1-1, Will 0-2
Overall: Brd 2-1, Will 0-3
Next: Brainerd at Moorhead 7 p.m. Friday.
"Turnovers were such a key to this game. You get an interception for a touchdown, turnovers are s big piece of a game and we got them. We tell the kids, like every coach does, that you should take care of the ball and take it away. When you can do that you've got a chance."
Brainerd's offense capitalized on its chances, racking up 338 total yards with no turnovers.
Running back Colby Ring rushed for 116 yards on just 11 carries (10.5 average) and scored on nifty runs of 46 yards in the first quarter and 15 yards in the second. He had 102 yards at the half.
Warrior defensive back Desmond Janousek returned one of his three interceptions Friday night at Adamson Field. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Warriors quarterback Scott Ramey hooked up with Crocker just before halftime to give Brainerd a 21-0 edge. Ramey fired a laser and Crocker made a diving catch in the end zone.
"Coach made a great call," Ramey said. "I think it was a curl, a backside post. Coach told me to look for it all the way. With (Crocker's) speed and ability all I have to do is throw it and he will go catch it. He made a great play in the back of the end zone.
"You can't ask for anything more as a quarterback. He goes up, makes the play, he makes everybody look good."
Jaron Hanson ended the scoring with a 7-yard run.
Willmar 0 0 0 0 - 0
Brainerd 7 14 13 6 - 40
Brd-Colby Ring 46 run (Zach Cadwell kick) 6:08
Brd-Ring 15 run (Cadwell kick) 9:28
Brd-Kyle Crocker 28 pass from Scott Ramey (Cadwell kick) 1:32
Brd-Ramey 6 run (kick fails) 6:26
Brd-Desmond Janousek 55 interception return (Cadwell kick) 3:35
Brd-Jaron Hanson 7 run (kick fails) 5:13
First downs: Brd 17, Wil 13
Warrior defensive back Tate Rusk had Willmar Cardinal Jake Sobiek (18) in his grasp Friday night in Brainerd. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Rushes-yards: Brd 40-218, Wil 28-104
Pass comp-att-int-yds: Brd 8-12-0-120, Wil 8-23-5-124
Total offense: Brd 338, Wil 228
Punts-avg: Brd 4-32.8, Wil 3-41.0
Return yards: Brd 133, Wil 161
Fumbles-lost: Brd 1-0, Wil 2-0
Penalties-yds lost: Brd 2-25, Wil 1-5
Rushing: Brd, Ramey 10-34, Ring 11-116, Jon Wiese 7-27, Nate Smolke 2-4, Reid Mimmack 3-21, Chris Swanson 4-4, Hanson 3-12; Wil, Stevin Carlson 6-37
Passing: Brd, Ramey 8-12-120; Wil, Dunham 7-21-109, Alex Saunders 1-2-15
Receiving: Brd, Mike Gervenak 3-54, Crocker 3-50, Ring 1-3, Hanson 1-13; Wil, Taylor Filipek 3-35
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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