AHSTW players, including R.J. Harris (23), AJ Sieh (73) and Joe Kenkel (52), accept the team’s playoff qualifier trophy following Friday’s game. (Photos by Kim Wegener) Viking seniors AJ Sieh (73) and R.J. Harris (23) embrace following the team’s 28-18 loss. AHSTW junior Drake Partridge carries the football during last week’s playoff game vs. Western Christian.

Fumbles hamper Vikings in playoff loss to Wolfpack

 AVOCA (Oct. 27) -- The AHSTW football team outgained Western Christian by 13 yards and forced three turnovers in last Friday’s Class 1A first-round playoff game in Avoca.
 Unfortunately, the Vikings also lost five drive-stalling fumbles against the defending state champion Wolfpack in a season-ending 28-18 loss.
 Led by Ben Granstra’s game-high 201 yards rushing and two touchdown runs, 8th-ranked Western Christian (8-2) advanced to this Friday’s quarterfinal round and a rematch with top-ranked West Lyon (10-0). The 9th-ranked Vikings, who opened the season with eight straight wins before losing their regular-season finale at Missouri Valley, finished 8-2 overall.
 “We coughed it up five times. That was kind of what separated us between finishing off drives with scores and coming up empty,” said AHSTW head coach Davis Pattee. “The one time when they really turned us away on downs was the first drive of the game where we drove it the length of the field. We had (two) punts... otherwise we just turned it over.”
 Trailing 7-0 after the first quarter, the Vikings were able to build a 10-7 halftime lead following quarterback R.J. Harris’ one-yard TD run and Kyle Branan’s 21-yard field goal with 3:10 left in the second quarter.
 The Wolfpack responded with 21 unanswered points to open the second half, however, getting two short touchdown runs from Granstra and a five-yard TD pass from Caleb Harmsen to Carter Kooi that made it 28-10 with 6:06 remaining.
 AHSTW added one final score with :03 left on a Harris to Jake Martin 19-yard reception.

Western Christian 28, AHSTW 18
AHSTW Individual Statistics
    Rushing -- Gabe Pauley 22-150, R.J. Harris 18-104, Drake Partridge 1-4.
    Passing -- Harris 7-15-0, 121.
    Receiving -- Jake Martin 2-55, Gage Clay 1-22, Pauley 1-21, Partridge 2-13, Blake Osbahr 1-10.
    Punt return -- Clay 1-10.
    Kickoff returns -- Partridge 3-54, Ben Ehlers 1-2, Seth Kiesel 1-1.
    Punting -- AJ Sieh 2-72 (36.0).
    Kickoffs -- Trey Starr 4-106 (26.5).
 Field goal -- Kyle Branan 1-1 (21).
    Tackles -- Caden Larson 10 (2s/8a), Pauley 9 (2s/7a), Adam Madsen 8 (2s/6a), Clay 7 (4s/3a), Harris 7 (2s/5a), Jackson Woltmann 7 (2s/5a), Sam Peterson 6 (3s/3a), Osbahr 6 (2s/4a), Gabe Madsen 4 (3s/1a), J. Martin 3 (3s), Joe Kenkel 3 (1s/2a), Partridge 3 (1s/2a), Sieh 2 (2a), Kiesel 1 (1s), Hayden Woltmann 1 (1a), Josiah Fichter 1 (1a), Gavyn Fischer 1 (1a).
    Tackles for loss -- Peterson 3, Larson 2, G. Madsen 1.
 QB Sacks -- Peterson 1 solo, Larson 1 solo.
 Interceptions-return yds. -- Partridge 1-60, Clay 1-0.
 Fumble recovery -- Partridge.

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