Big plays and takeaways lead HCHS past Osky

Cyclones win 36-14 in Class 3A playoff opener, setting up quarterfinal rematch with Lewis Central

 OSKALOOSA (Oct. 26) -- Harlan Community quarterback Preston Mulligan is known much more for his throwing arm than his ability to run the football, but on Friday it was Mulligan’s “wheels” providing a big highlight during the Cyclones’ Class 3A first round playoff game at Oskaloosa.
 Calling his own number on a third-and-one sneak early in the second half, Mulligan scampered 54 yards to the endzone untouched to give HCHS a three-score lead en route to its 36-14 win over the 7th-ranked Indians.
 Mulligan was as surprised as anyone when the seas parted in front of center Brock Hedstrom with nothing but green turf ahead.
 “I guess track paid off for me,” he joked.
 Mulligan’s long TD run was one of several big plays for the Cyclones (8-2), who also got a 34-yard pick-six from Thomas Fah early and an 84-yard TD run by Alex Schechinger to cap the scoring with 5:18 remaining.
 Oskaloosa (8-2) turned the ball over twice on its first three plays of the night, finished with four total turnovers and did not convert a first down until the 7:07 mark of the second quarter.
 HCHS had some not-so-good moments as well, but did enough things right to advance with relative ease and set up a rematch at No. 2 Lewis Central (10-0) in the 3A quarterfinals on Friday.
 “The good moments far outweighed the bad ones,” said HCHS head coach Curt Bladt of Friday’s win. “We could have put ourselves in a world of hurt but we kept playing and kept going. We didn’t allow the bad to linger and we looked forward to the next play and the next play was better.”
 HCHS outgained Osky 403-202 in total yardage, including a 248-59 edge in rushing, and led 21-7 in points off turnovers. The Cyclones overcame nine penalties for 94 yards, as well as the loss of receiver/defensive back Eli Boldan and center Ethan Leinen to injuries during the game.
Titan rematch:
 Four weeks after losing at Lewis Central 49-14 during the regular season, HCHS will get its playoff rematch Friday at 7:00 p.m. LC advanced with a 51-7 first-round win over Carroll.
 “I’m sure they’ll be ready for us, and we’ll be ready for them,” Bladt said. “This is their shot to win it all. A lot of boys graduate - a lot of good players - so if they want to make a run at a title it’s now. We want to make a run at the title, too, so it will be a hotly-contested game.”

Harlan Community 36, Oskaloosa 14
HCHS: Brenden Bartley 17-yd. run (Kyle Knudson kick) - 1st qt., 5:14.
HCHS: Thomas Fah 34-yd. INT return (Knudson kick) - 1st qt., 4:54.
Oskaloosa: Casey Hill 4-yd. run (Carson Genskow kick) - 2nd qt., 1:24.
HCHS: Brett Sears 4-yd. pass from Preston Mulligan (Knudson kick) - 2nd qt., 0:28.
HCHS: Mulligan 54-yd. run (Jonathan Cheek run) - 3rd qt., 9:48.
Oskaloosa: Ike Schultz 36-yd. pass from Hill (Genskow kick) - 4th qt., 9:20.
HCHS: Alex Schechinger 84-yd. run (Knudson kick) - 4th qt., 5:18.
HCHS Individual Stat Leaders
    Rushing -- Alex Schechinger 7-120, Preston Mulligan 6-69, Brenden Bartley 13-44. Passing -- Mulligan 16-31-1, 155. Receiving -- Brett Sears 3-49, Eli Boldan 3-41, Jonathan Cheek 2-30, Jon Owens 1-23, Johnathan Monson 4-18.
    Tackles -- Jake McLaughlin 7 (3s/4a), Bartley 7 (1s/6a), Allen Fries 5 (3s/2a), Thomas Fah 5 (2s/3a), Wyatt Schaben 5 (2s/3a), Owens 5 (2s/3a). QB Sacks -- J. McLaughlin 2, Caleb Bieker 1. Interceptions-return yds. -- Fah 1-34 (TD), Connor Bruck 1-0, Owens 1-0. Fumble recovery -- A. Schechinger. Blocked punt -- Schaben.

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