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AFTON — The defense set the tone for Afton’s 48-7 romp over Savanna in the first round of the Class A playoffs here Friday, Nov. 10.
“They are a pretty good ballclub — they are not your typical fourth seed,” Afton head coach Zach Gardner said of the Bulldogs. “I talked with Talihina (the District A-7 champion) and they said these guys really were the two seed in their district, so we knew coming in that they had some good players we had to contend with. But our defense pretty much shut them down.”
It was three-and-out on Savanna’s first three possessions.
By the time it finally put a semblance of a drive together, the Bulldogs trailed 24-0.
“The defense set the tone for the ballgame,” Gardner said.
While the Afton offense put up six touchdowns, the defense accounted for the final two points on a safety with 7:42 left in the third period.
The win was the 10th straight on the season and 22nd in 23 games for the Eagles, who now host No. 9 Cashion (9-2) in a rematch of last year’s second round game.
Cashion, which beat Woodland 28-6 Friday night, suffered a 32-30 loss to the Eagles last season.
“It doesn’t mean anything that we’ve done in the past,” Gardner said. “It’s a level playing field. It’s a home field which is nice, but our kids have to show up and play.”
Savanna’s triple option offense managed only 158 total yards, all on the ground.
“We don’t see that week in and week out,” Gardner said. “Everybody wants go to the spread game, spread you out and run the ball. For us not having seen it, hats off to our defense tonight.
“Our kids flew to the ball and were physical. It showed.”
The bulk of the visitors’ yardage came on their only scoring drive, which covered 91 yards in 14 plays.
Quarterback Brayden Hoffman was 0-for-7 passing with one interception.
Before finally breaking through with its lone score, Savanna’s first seven possessions were punt, punt, punt, interception, fumble, turnover on downs and a safety.
“The interior ’backers, the Gaines boys (senior Trenton and sophomore Braeden), probably played their best game,” Gardner said. “That was something we had to key on. We had a tackle-dive and we controlled the dive with our interior guys. Everybody else had to play assignment football. Those guys showed up and played.”
By contrast, Afton finished with 449 yards in total offense, with 361 of that via the run.
Quarterback Wil Amos led the way with 177 yards and four touchdowns on 17 carries.
He had touchdown runs of 6, 1, 3 and 50 yards.
Running back Brier Julian added 117 yards on nine attempts. He also added a 1-yard run in the second quarter that ballooned the lead to 24-0.
Amos was 5 of 7 passing for 87 yards. That included a 12-yard TD strike to Brett Hollon.
Hollon was on the receiving end of three of Amos’ completions. Kyle Corley had two catches and Julian and Weston Amos had one each.