TRUMAN, Minn. - It took the South Central Hawgs all of one play from scrimmage to gain the upper hand in a Southern Plains Football League playoffs semifinal battle here Saturday evening.
Trey Diggs shook loose and journeyed 91 yards down the field for a touchdown just seconds into the contest and the Hawgs never trailed en route to a 24-14 victory over Webster City's own Midwest Rampage.
The Rampage - playing 9-man football for the first time in 2014 and with only four practices under its belt - finished the campaign a respectable 8-3.
Gunnar Wyatt looks for a cutback lane during Saturday’s 24-14 loss to the South Central Hawgs.
"This wasn't the ending to our season that we wanted, but there's nothing to hang our heads about," Rampage head coach Matt Girdley said.
The Rampage out-gained the Hawgs, 266-227, but the four-time defending SPFL champions made the most of their opportunities. Quarterback Jeff Sipple found Nick Hotzler for a 25-yard touchdown toss early in the third quarter to up the cushion to 14-0, and Diggs essentially put the game away later in the period with a 30-yard scamper to paydirt.
Four missed opportunities inside the red zone haunted the Rampage.
Saturday at Truman, Minn.
Midwest Rampage0 0 7 7-14
South Central Hawgs7 0 14 3-24
HAW - Trey Diggs 91 run (Jonny Christensen kick).
HAW - Nate Hotzler 25 pass from Jeff Sipple (Christensen kick).
RAM - Nick Plueger 25 INT (Chuck Tack kick).
HAW - Diggs 30 run (Christensen kick).
HAW - FG Christensen 21.
RAM - Clint Foth 4 pas from Ben Jass (Tack kick).
Rushing - RAM: Ross Haren 32-136, Ben Jass 2-2, Gunnar Wyatt 1-3.
Passing - RAM: Jass 14-34-2 125, Haren 0-1-1 0.
Receiving - RAM: Clint Foth 5-54, Wyatt 4-45, Haren 1-14, Andy Sowle 2-10, Drew Dettmering 1-2.
Tackles - RAM: Nick Plueger 16, John Elkin 16, Shon Osborn 6, Eric Walechka 5, Justin Engh 3, Tyler Mosbach 3, Brian Miller 2, Aron Kliegl 1, Collin Mann 1, Caleb Bonjour 1, Todd Sauer 1, Cody Mosbach 1, Haren 1.
"It was a tough game, a tough loss," Rampage linebacker John Elkin said after piling up 16 tackles. "Losing is never easy, but considering a year ago the Rampage wasn't even a team, for us to go 8-3 and play in the (SPFL) semifinals is a feat unto itself."
Nick Plueger also registered 16 tackles in the loss. He picked off Sipple in the third quarter and returned it to the house for the team's first score. Quarterback Ben Jass hit Clint Foth with a 4-yard TD pass late in the game.
Jass completed 14 of 34 passes for 125 yards. Tailback Ross Haren churned out 136 ground yards on 32 totes.
Jass finished his first season under center with 1,578 passing yards and 18 touchdowns. He completed 111 of 192 passes.
Haren's record-setting season included 1,176 yards rushing and 17 scores.
The Hawgs (9-1) will face the only team to beat them this season - the Southwest Huskerz (10-1) - on Saturday for the league championship.
The Huskerz lone loss was a 32-22 setback against the Rampage in Webster City on June 21.