By TOMMY WELLS
SEYMOUR – A week ago, the Strawn High School Greyhounds were disappointed with their defensive effort in the playoff opener. They weren’t Friday night.
Louis Berumen intercepted a pass, batted down another and registered several key tackles and helped the Strawn Greyhounds overpower the Jayton Jaybirds, 54-8, in a Division II regional round matchup at Panther Stadium.
As a whole, the Greyhound defense limited Jayton to just 129 total yards and enabled Strawn to end the game via the six-man football 45-point mercy rule at the 3:11 mark of the third quarter.
With the victory, Strawn improved to 11-1 for the season and, even more important, earned a berth in the state quarterfinals.
“We played better defensively tonight,” said senior Cole Abbott. “We wanted to come out and do that. We’re better than how we played last week.”
Offensively, Jayton might think Strawn couldn’t get much better. The Greyhounds reeled off 384 yards in the contest, including 201 via the running game.
Strawn got the offense going early against the Jaybirds. After taking the opening kick, the Greyhounds marched 40 yards in six plays to take the lead.
Sophomore Harrison Nowak carried much of Strawn’s early success in the drive. He rushed for gains of 20 and five yards to move the ball to the Jayton 15. Three plays later, sophomore running back Noel Martinez finished the drive by crashing in from the one.
Jayton’s first possession didn’t end as well. The Jaybirds managed to drive to the Strawn 38 on their opening series before Berumen stepped in front of a Tanner Hart pass at the SHS 26.
Jayton managed a total of just 19 yards of offense in the first quarter, and went into the second period trailing 8-0.
Strawn didn’t waste any time in getting the offense into high gear in the second. The Greyhounds reeled off a 23-yard scoring run on the first play from scrimmage in the frame and built its lead to 16-0.
Jayton’s fortunes got even worse minutes later. After driving to the SHS 3, Brandenburg scooped up a JHS fumble on Jayton’s initial possession of the second period.
The Greyhounds didn’t waste the opportunity. After a short 4-yard run by Jacob Trujillo, freshman running back Ross Alison ripped off a 17-yard scamper to the Strawn 24. Three plays later, Nowak took the snap from center and lofted a 33-yard strike to Abram Jaramillo for a first down at the Jaybird 23.
Bobby Wells capped the drive moments later by rushing into the end zone from four yards out and giving Strawn a 24-0 lead with 4:18 remaining in the first half.
The Greyhounds were far from through.
Brandenburg recovered the Greyhounds’ ensuing onside kick attempt, giving Strawn the ball at the Jayton 35.
Three plays later, Alison pulled in a 43-yard touchdown strike from Nowak that pushed the Greyhounds’ lead to 30-0.
Nowak enjoyed another solid performance under center. The sophomore signal-caller completed eight of his 20 passing attempts for 183 yards and three touchdowns, giving him nine TD passes in the Strawn’s first two playoff outings.
The Strawn offense and defense picked up right where it left off in the second half.
The SHS defense has forced Jayton to turn the ball over on downs on its first series of the second half, the Greyhound offense needed just five plays to motor 41 yards for a touchdown and a 38-0 cushion.
A pair of back-to-back penalties put Strawn in a first-and-26 situation late in the drive. Nowak, however, pulled the Hounds out of the situation. He tossed a short pass to Wells in the left flat, who the outraced the Jaybird defense to the end zone.
Jayton managed to get its offense going from there. The Jaybirds notched their only score of the contest at the 6:41 mark of the third quarter.
Running back Trevor Speed capped a short three-play, 38-yard drive with a 21-yard TD run.
The touchdown down didn’t slow the Strawn avalanche.
The Greyhounds answered Jayton’s quick strike with one of their own on their next series. Strawn went 41 yards in two plays to regain the momentum. Martinez, making his first offensive appearance in more than a month, covered the final 24 yards for his second TD of the game.
Strawn closed out the contest just over three minutes later when Abbott turned a short pass into a 40-yard scoring play.
Strawn advances to state quarterfinals
By TOMMY WELLS
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