Humphrey Saint Francis scored 34 points in the first quarter of Tuesday's 64-20 road playoff win over Plainview and rolled into the D-2 state semifinals for the second year in a row.
The Flyers took advantage of Pirate mistakes, especially in the kicking game, during the first 12 minutes of the contest. Plainview answered St. Francis' opening touchdown drive but then gave up the next 48 straight points.
Taylor Wemhoff had another big day, rushing for 209 yards on 18 carries and scoring five total touchdowns - four from scrimmage and another on a kickoff. He scored four of five Flyer touchdowns at one point, starting with a 26-yard run with his team leading 8-6.
The win was the second for St. Francis this year over Plainview following a 54-26 Flyer win in the final game of the regular season. St. Francis scored 32 in the first quarter of that one then added single touchdowns in the next three.
The win means a date with a familiar foe in the semifinals, Falls City Sacred Heart, at 4:30 p.m. Monday in Humphrey.
"It's always a little bit of a challenge planning for the same team in a short turnaround, especially a team that is as good as Plainview was, and having to go to their place," coach Eric Kessler said. "We faced the same thing with Elgin Public Pope John in the first round, so certainly a challenge to have to play those teams twice in a matter of a month."
Trevor Pfeifer started the scoring, capping a 65-yard drive then tossed a pass to Evan Foltz for the two-point conversion and an 8-0 St. Francis lead. Plainview answered with a drive capped by a touchdown pass, Wemhoff ran past the defense for his 26-yard score and a 16-6 lead following the conversion, then the Pirate mistakes began.
They fumbled the snap of a punt and gave it up in the red zone leading to a Justin Leifeld 11-yard scoring run. A bobbled snap by the punter in the next Plainview drive led to a safety. Wemhoff ran back the ensuing kickoff.
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With still 1:56 remaining in the first quarter, it was a 34-6 lead and essentially ballgame.
"Our guys have been very focused this year and knew we had to come out and get off to a good start," Kessler said. "I wouldn't say we emphasized more than we usually do, but we knew how good Plainview was and we knew we had to be ready to go from the start."
St. Francis then added on with Wemhoff's 3-yard run just over two minutes into the second quarter, Wemhoff went in from 45 yards out on the next drive, Plainview fumbled it away and Wemhoff scored again.
The win advanced the Flyers on to the semifinals for the second straight year and the fourth time in the last eight years. St. Francis and Sacred Heart have met five times during the span.
The Flyers hold a 3-2 advantage including a 54-36 win in last year's quarterfinals.
"Sacred Heart is a tremendous team. They have had an unbelievable year. They have a hall of fame coach, great players and just tremendous tradition," Kessler said. "We are looking forward to the opportunity to play them, and it should be a great game."
Nate Tenopir is the sports editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.