Posted On: 11/17/18 2:43 AM
The Willmar Cardinals made short work of the St. Paul Johnson Governors in their 4A semi-final game. In one of the most impressive individual performances of the weekend, Willmar quarterback Drey Dirksen did a bit of everything en route to the Cardinals’ 62-20 victory.
In the first half, Dirksen had 187 passing yards with three touchdowns and 92 rushing yards with another three touchdowns.
Dirksen started the day with a run on a run-pass option play. Then he completed a pass to Alexander Wickliff down the sidelines. Dirksen used his legs again for a thirty-yard touchdown run less than one minute into the game.
After the Cardinals’ defense would force a three and out, Wickliff’s long punt return set up Willmar near the red zone. Faced with a fourth and four, Dirksen faked the end around, and he kept the ball up the middle for a first down. Then he held the ball on another RPO off the right side for a four-yard touchdown run and a very quick 14-0 lead.
The Cardinals’ defense continued to keep the Governors’ offense short of mid-field. The defensive front seven spent time on Johnson’s side of the line of scrimmage and took advantage of Johnson dropped passes.
With good field position again, the Cardinals were in the end zone. Dirksen’s third rushing touchdown opened a big 21-0 lead early in the second quarter.
The Governors got the running game going early in the second quarter. It opened up a post route that set up Johnson’s first score. Joey Moberg scored from two yards out on a keeper on an RPO. The score cut the Willmar lead to 21-7. Johnson would get no closer.
Tough inside running and Dirksen smartly using his legs answered the Governors” touchdown. Dirksen topped off the drive with a 24-yard wheel route touchdown to Wickliff and a 28-7 lead.
The Cardinal defense forced a three and out giving Willmar a short field. The Dirksen show continued on a fly pattern to Jake Evans for a jump ball touchdown. It was all over but the final score at that point with Willmar building a 34-7 lead. It was nearly a perfect first half for the Cardinals. The only blemish being a botched extra point.
The defense forced the Governors to take chances. They tried to go deep but defensive back Ty Roelofs had perfect man to man coverage and picked off the pass.
The turnover would result in yet another touchdown when Dirksen threw another fly pattern down the sidelines to Evans who made a diving catch landing just over the goal line.
Defensive back Caleb Owens intercepted a pass, and one play later Dirksen and Evans connected again to make the score 48-7.
The defense would get on the scoreboard next when linebacker Ethan Roux blitzed. He would hit the quarterback just as he threw the ball. Roelofs picked off the overthrown ball and returned it for 54 yards and a touchdown.
The Cardinals would sub down shortly after taking the 55-7 lead. The second-team offense would also get into the end zone. Johnson would add a pair of late touchdowns to make the final score 62-20.
Dirksen would throw just sixteen passes but would pick up 215 yards with four touchdown passes. He would at 92 more yards on the ground and another three touchdowns.
Willmar’s 62-20 win sets up a Prep Bowl matchup with SMB for the 4A title.