WOODWARD — Last October Mount Ayr returned the opening kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown en route to a 28-14 win over Woodward-Granger.
Friday night the Hawks flipped the script, with Payton Tague bursting 88 yards with the opening kick for a 6-0 W-G lead. Austin Scharlau’s two-point conversion run put the hosts ahead, 8-0, just 16 seconds into the game.
Those were more points than the Hawks would allow, as W-G went on to record a 22-6 victory. The win was career triumph 100 for head coach George Ashman, who is 75-37 (.670) in his 11th season in Woodward and 100-73 (.578) overall.
Ashman was 25-36 in seven years at Okoboji when he was brought aboard at W-G in 2007. The Hawks were just 2-7 in ’07 but then went on a seven-year playoff run. The team was 50-8 in the midst of the surge (from 2008-2012), reaching the quarterfinals three times.
Tague nearly broke a 92-yard run midway through the first quarter, but had his stride broken just after stepping through a gaping hole and into the Raider secondary, allowing him to be run down after a 49-yard gain. W-G was unable to score on that drive, with the halftime score remaining 8-0.
A pair of short runs from quarterback Brendan Bird and a pair of Matt Hansen PAT kicks moved the score to 22-0 before the Raiders capped the scoring with a touchdown on a broken play late in the half.
Statistical information from Mount Ayr (2-5, 1-4) was not available.
Bird hit on just 1-of-6 passes in the combination mist/light rain/downpour, with Josh Saak pulling in a 34-yard reception.
Tague finished with 129 rush yards on 29 carries and Scharlau with 52 yards on 11 totes. Bird scored twice while gaining 22 yards on five runs, with J.P. Nixon running once for four yards as the hosts compiled 207 yards on 46 total rushes.
Scharlau had 8.5 tackles, including one for a loss of yards and a sack, while also recovering a fumble. Cole Carmen and Gabe Yingst each had 5.5 tackles for the hosts.
W-G (5-2, 4-1) will need to pull an upset in at least one of its final two games to all but ensure a playoff spot, and it will not be easy. Up first is a trip Friday to fifth-ranked Pleasantville, with No. 2 Pella Christian visiting Woodward Oct. 20.