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home : sports : sports
October 27, 2021

9/24/2021 11:35:00 AM
North Branch suffocates Mora 50-0, moves to 3-0
by JEFF NORTON


A furious second quarter flurry of scoring was all North Branch needed to completely put Mora away in their gridion match on Friday, September 16.

The Vikings scored four times in the second frame, with the shortest being from 17 yards out, and that extended a one score lead at the end of the first to a 36-0 thrashing before the halftime buzzer hit.

Ashton LaBelle got things going for North Branch in the first quarter when he scored from two yards out. The senior continued to pile up the scores, as that was his seventh touchdown of the year. He also made good on the two point conversion to grab an early 8-0 lead.

Mora went three and out on their first possesion but the game was a stalemate for the rest of the opening quarter. But, early in the second was when the floodgates began to open for the North Branch offense.

After a couple of big running plays, quarterback Andrew Thauwald hit Loghan Croal for a 29-yard touchdown. Croal sneaked behind the Mustang defense on the play and was wide open for the score. The conversion was no good and NB led 14-0 with 10 minutes left in the half.

Mora tried to muster their own drive on offense but after grinding to midfield, the quarterback was caught from behind on a designed sweep play and fumbled the ball. Linebacker Matt Lavalla was there for NB and he scooped up the ball on the right side of the field and kept his balance and was off to the races. He had a convoy of North Branch defenders around him as he strolled into the endzone for North Branch’s first defensive touchdown of the year. Thauwald made good on the two point conversion and NB led 22-0.

Disaster struck for Mora on their next drive as they turned the ball over again, and the Vikings wasted no time putting their boots on the Mustang’s hopes. Thauwald ran a beautiful play action fake on the first play and found another wide open receiver, a strafing Adam Johnstone, who reeled the pass in and rumbled to the endzone from 37 yards out. LaBelle’s two point conversion was good and NB led 30-0.

The North Branch defense could sense the desperation from Mora and swarmed to every ball and made the plays they needed to to keep Mora at bay.

This led to another North Branch scoring drive with under one minute left in the half. Sam Robillard ran one in from 17 yards out to cap the sensational first half for NB with a 36-0 lead after a failed two point attempt.

In the second half, North Branch came out just attempting to run the clock out, but even that was beyond successful. Just three plays into their first drive, Croal ripped off a 73-yard touchdown run. Soccer player Tanner Bollman attempted his first extra point of the season and nailed it, giving NB a 43-0 lead.

Thauwald gave North Branch one more score just two minutes  from 10 yards out, and Bollman knocked another extra point through for a 50-0 lead for the Vikings.

North Branch paraded in mostly back ups for the rest of the game, but even on defense, they were able to hold on to the shutout against the Mustangs, giving North Branch their largest margin of victory in over a decade.
Thauwald had a ridiculously efficient game for North Branch. 

The senior signal caller was two-for-two for 66 yards and two touchdowns and rushed the ball seven times for 75 yards and a score. Four other Vikings ran for over 30 yards with Croal gaining 73, LaBelle gaining 53, Robillard with 41 and Ryan Oday with 32. As a team, they ran for 287 yards.

LaBelle, Lavalla and Jacob Tiegen all had sacks for the defense and Michael Thao and Tyler Schneidewind forced the two fumbles that Mora let hit the ground, which were huge momentum plays for the Vikes.

North Branch is now off to a dominating 3-0 start. They are averaging 38.6 points per game whil only allowing 8.3. They’ll take on the 2-1 Rock Ridge Wolverines next. The team is a co-op based in Eveleth, who have beaten North Woods and Duluth Denfeld and lost to Two Harbors. They have two running backs who are averaging over 100 yards per game, so they’ll bring a dangerous ground game to the contest.



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