GRISWOLD, Iowa — Logan-Magnolia’s defense flexed its muscle again. Then the Panthers celebrated a long-awaited district title.
Lo-Ma shut down yet another Iowa Class A, District 8 football foe Friday night in a 21-7 victory over Griswold. The visitors held their opponent to 204 total yards and defended in their own territory on only five plays before the Tigers’ final drive.
Players and coaches were somewhat subdued in the purple-and-gold postgame huddle after claiming their first district championship since 2006. After all, they had already outscored their other district foes 299-16 entering the regular-season finale.
And with a home playoff game looming Wednesday evening, the Panthers (8-1, 7-0) have plenty to prepare for.
“This means a lot to the kids,” Lo-Ma coach Matt Straight said. “But at the same time, we hope for a little bigger than that. So while we’re excited about the district championship, it’s not No. 1 on our goal list.”
Senior Caden McDonald led the Panthers’ offensive attack, churning out 130 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. His 31-yard scamper down the left sideline on the third play of the third quarter gave Lo-Ma a 21-0 cushion that was more than enough for its hard-hitting defense.
“That’s a football game right there,” McDonald said. “That’s what we needed was a gut check and to get hit hard. I’m proud of the boys; we reacted well.”
Coupled with A-H-S-T’s win over Underwood on Friday, Griswold’s loss puts the Tigers (6-3, 5-2) as the district’s No. 2 seed and gives them another home game next week.
Passing was hard to come by in a contest where the district crown hung in the balance. The teams combined to run the ball 90 times while attempting 16 total throws.
Senior running back Paul Hutson was the unlikely source of Lo-Ma’s only aerial success. A second-quarter drive looked stalled on fourth-and-8 from the Griswold 15-yard line. But quarterback Nick Knudsen flipped the ball to Hutson, who rolled out and threw his first pass of the year into the waiting arms of Dillon Wills on the right side of the end zone to complete the 12-play march and make it 14-0.
Logan-Magnolia opened the game by sniffing out a Griswold fake punt on fourth down, then went up 7-0 four plays later when McDonald ran in from 3 yards out.
Griswold, which saw its five-game winning streak snapped, reached the end zone on its first drive of the second half. It converted on two fourth downs during the 66-yard trek, with the second coming on a 23-yard touchdown scramble by QB Devin Bates on fourth-and-3.
Straight said the Panthers’ latest stingy performance was a good way to enter the postseason. But he spent most of halftime asking for a better effort from the offensive line. Also frustrating was Knudsen’s 0-for-5 passing night that included an interception.
“From my place on the sideline, they played harder than we did,” Straight said. “I thought both defenses controlled the line of scrimmage, but their defense played harder than our offense did.”
For the Panthers, it was an ideal way to wrap up a memorable regular season.
“It’s been six years since we won (the district), and that’s a big deal for the seniors,” McDonald said. “We always had St. Albert in front of us, but we got this title and it’s off to the playoffs. Step by step right now.”
Logan-Magnolia (8-1, 7-0) .................. 7 7 7 0—21
Griswold (6-3, 5-2) .................. 0 0 7 0—7
LM: Caden McDonald 3 run (Brady Charbonneau kick)
LM: Dillon Wills 15 pass from Paul Hutson (Charbonneau kick)
LM: McDonald 31 run (Charbonneau kick)
G: Devin Bates 23 run (Holden Ogg kick)