CRESTON — Creston/Orient-Macksburg broke through a program barrier in record fashion Monday night in a 59-31 victory over Norwalk at Panther Field.
The Panthers were 0-5 in second-round playoff games since their first postseason appearance in 1985, but sailed past the Warriors for the second time this season after a competitive 7-7 first quarter.
Sophomore running back Chase Shiltz led the way with five rushing touchdowns and another on an 11-yard screen pass. He now has 26 touchdowns, believed to be a season record for Creston/O-M, and surpassed 1,000 yards for the year with 192 yards on 28 carries.
Shiltz concluded his night with a 77-yard run on a direct snap in a short-yardage formation with 2:43 remaining, bursting through the line and outracing the Norwalk secondary.
"We were just looking to get a first down and keep the clock moving, but that works, too," Shiltz said. "The guys up front were great tonight."
Quarterback Alex Nielsen had two touchdown passes, giving him 18 for the year in setting another program record. He came into the game tied at 16 with G.G. Harris in 2005 and Luke Neitzel in 2011.
Nielsen was 12-of-17 passing for 276 yards. A week earlier he passed Harris for season passing yardage, now at 2,407 yards.
Another record-breaker on the night was McClain Haines, who picked off two Brady Brandsfield passes for his eighth and ninth interceptions of the season. The former school record was eight by Tony Hartman in 2005.
Haines' second interception was returned 25 yards for a touchdown with 2:27 left for the final score of the night. The Panthers pulled away by outscoring the Warriors 35-17 in the second half.
Haines also had a 40-yard pass reception to set up one of Shiltz's touchdowns. Senior Bryce Briley had four catches for 121 yards, including a 63-yard touchdown.
The two teams opened the season in a 27-17 win by Creston/O-M.
Norwalk closes at 6-5, while the Panthers advance to the quarterfinals for the first time with a 9-2 mark, matching the most wins in school history.
"It was a big-time win for us against a good program that's always in the playoffs," Panther coach Brian Morrison said. "The guys had a great week of practice in a short week. They're improving every week and we're excited to still be playing."