GILTNER — In a match-up of contrasting offensive styles, Mullen’s power run game and physicality in the trenches prevailed.
Mullen, the No. 1-seeded team in the western bracket of the Class D-2 football playoffs, blew past a turnover-prone Giltner 53-8 Wednesday on the Hornets’ home grass to end their season in the second round.
Mullen’s Lane Edis lit up the scoreboard behind his blockers for four rushing touchdowns in the first half and five on the game with 180 yards on 22 carries.
“(The run game) is something we always try to establish,” Mullen head coach Mitch Pfeiffer said. “If it works, that’s what we’re going to stick with.”
Giltner (6-4) and its spread offense didn’t score points until early in the fourth quarter.
“I hope to see them in the next few rounds and hopefully down at the state championship,” Giltner head coach Chip Bartos said of Mullen. “They are very solid. They pound the ball, wear you down then they capitalized on our mental mistakes and our miscues.”
The game turned dramatically in favor of Mullen (10-0) thanks to three late Giltner turnovers in the first half that helped the Broncos scored 25 points in the final 3:24 of the second quarter.
During that scoring burst, Edis had touchdowns runs of 46 and 10 yards, while Koby Walker kicked a 27-yard field goal and intercepted Giltner quarterback Alex Goracke, returning the ball for a score.
“That was really pleasing to see our defense have a good game because Giltner’s offense is very challenging with all the passes,” Pfeiffer said. “It was very nice to see our defense step up like that.”
Before the Broncos’ end-of-half barrage, the Hornets were still in striking distance. Giltner drove from its own 15-yard line to the Mullen 2-yard line but was eventually turned away thanks to the Mullen defense’s penetration on four consecutive plays.
After stopping Giltner on downs, Edis was eventually set up for his 46-yard scoring run.
Following the disheartening empty drive, the Hornets proceeded to turn the ball over on a muffed kickoff return and two interceptions, including Walker’s pick-six.
“They knew we were going to throw the ball. We had our backs against the wall,” Bartos said. “They knew the passes that were coming...top to bottom, we didn’t click on all cylinders.
“We were so close and we could have punched it in. I probably should have called a different first-down play. Second down wasn’t any better and you put yourself in a hole and it’s tough. I should have put the kids in a better position.”
Giltner quarterback Alex Goracke made nice throws when he had the time but was persistently rushed by the Mullen front.
The physicality shown on both fronts is something that has been in the making for a long time for Mullen, which has made 15 consecutive trips to state with three overall state titles in program history.
“It’s kind of a culture that we have developed over many years for Mullen football,” Pfeiffer said. “We always try to instill that in our kids and try to play as hard as you can.”
Edis capped his night with a fifth touchdown in the third quarter to give Mullen the 45-0 lead.
Giltner answered when Goracke hit receiver Josh Hinrichs for a 26-yard touchdown. Goracke finished 19 of 31 for 208 yards. The Hornets finished with minus-22 rushing yards thanks to the Broncos swarming of Goracke in the pocket for losses.
“We couldn’t keep up with their scoring. For a high scoring offense that we’re supposed to be, they held us,” Bartos said.
With the Hornets losing nine seniors to graduation, Bartos told the team to continue to help guide the younger players as much as they can.
“We’re going to need high-quality leaders like them to fill and play,” he said. “If they’re able to do that, we should be able to pick up right where we left off, and hopefully, we sure can.”
Mullen advances to play Lawrence-Nelson (8-2) in Tuesday’s quarterfinals.
Mullen (10-0)......8 31 6 8—53
Giltner (6-4)........0 0 0 8—8
M—Lane Edis 1 run (Edis run), 5:34
M—Edis 16 run (run failed), 9:39
M—Edis 46 run (run failed), 3:24
M—Koby Walker 27 FG, 2:25
M—Edis 10 run (run failed), 1:08
M—Walker 18 interception return (Edis run), :58
M—Edis 32 run (run failed), 3:37
G—Josh Hinrichs 26 pass form Alex Goracke (Trevor Linden pass from Goracke), 11:15
M—Justin Wiens 24 run (Riley Kessler run), 6:38
First downs 13 15
Rushes-yards 42-292 22-(-22)
Passing yards 25 208
Att-Comp-Int 1-4-0 19-31-2
Punts-Avg 1-34.0 2-42.0
Fumbles-lost 3-0 1-1
Penalties-yards 4-43 4-27
Rushing—M, Edis 22-180, Matthew Stichka 10-36, Justin Wiens 5-35, Ty Durfee 1-13, Ty Kvanvig 2-10, Kessler 2-9, Teven Marshall 1-9; G, Linden 6-8, Brodi Hansen 3-6, Goracke 13-(-36)
Passing—M, Brady Gracey 1-4-35, Goracke 19-31-208
Receiving—M, Durgee 1-35; G, Rees Lyon 8-93, Hansen 4-70, Hinrichs 4-45.