The L-Cats left little doubt, piling up 504 yards of offense and bottling up the state’s sixth-leading rusher.
Lake Mills senior quarterback Adam Moen had 302 passing yards, accounting for seven touchdowns, as the second-seeded L-Cats beat third-seeded Mauston 56-20 in a WIAA Division 3 Level 1 game at LMHS on Friday.
“Adam was throwing the ball really well tonight,” said Lake Mills head coach Tyler Huber, who won his first playoff game. “I don’t think he had a bad ball all night although he had two interceptions. The balls were on the money all night.”
Moen surpassed 10,000 yards from scrimmage in his career, completing 17-of-25 with five passing touchdowns.
“We’ve been playing together the whole way through from flag football to middle school and now high school,” senior wide receiver Charlie Bender said of Moen. “He’s always had the ‘it factor.’ He’s Adam Moen, he does it. He knows what to do. He’s always been our guy.
“Seeing him playing on varsity as a freshman and develop into what Ben Dunkleberger and some of our senior mentors when we were freshman knew he could be. When he stepped in there during our first game against Menomonie in our sophomore year, from that point on there was no question who our quarterback should be.”
Moen had a 1-yard first-quarter rushing score before throwing 24- and 27-yard touchdowns to senior receiver Grant Horkan to make it 21-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Bender caught a one-yard pass with 5 minutes, 24 seconds left in the second quarter and junior kicker Carson Lund’s point after extended the advantage to 28-0.
The Golden Eagles took advantage of a successful onside kick to open the second stanza and scored on the short field with a 5-yard strike from junior quarterback Spenser Lehman to senior receiver Camron Cafferty. Mauston senior tailback Kraig Armstrong’s 2-point conversion run was good.
L-Cat senior tailback Charlie Cassady, who had nine carries for 84 yards, capped off a five-play, 69-yard drive with a 2-yard rushing score to answer quickly, pushing the lead to 21. Moen got the drive started with a 28-yard burst on the first play before a pair of Cassady runs set up the red zone opportunity.
“We talked at halftime about establishing the run game,” Huber said. “I think we ran the ball maybe five times in the first half. They were stacking the box a little bit on us. We had a little success passing the ball. It’s about us and it’s not about what the other team is doing. We wanted to establish the run game going into the second half and that’s what we did on that drive.”
Mauston went three-and-out on its next series.
Cassady kickstarted Lake Mills’ ensuing drive with a 20-yard catch down the sideline before picking up seven on a rush. Moen found paydirt on a 10-yard scamper a few plays later, extending the advantage to 42-14 with 2:09 left in the third.
Cafferty caught a 13-yard slant for a score early in the fourth.
Lake Mills, the tenth-ranked team in the Associated Press medium-sized schools poll, answered in two plays. Moen ran it for 15 before throwing a perfectly placed deep ball to senior receiver Jaxson Retrum, who juggled it twice briefly before securing the 51-yard TD.
“He and Jaxson have a good connection in practice and it translates,” Huber said. “That’s why you see the connection they have on Friday nights as well. We were running 4-Verts and they were in Cover 3.”
L-Cat freshman linebacker Cooper Murphy recovered a Lund onside kick in a scrum, handing the ball back to the offense. Cassady had a chunk gain of 23 two plays later. Horkan then scored his third touchdown of the day and the season, punishing a couple of tacklers en route to a 20-yard score on a jet sweep.
Lake Mills, which has won three straight and is now 6-2, has surpassed 50 points in each of it’s last two games. The L-Cats have scored 48 or more four times.
“At the start of the year we had a lot of new rout patterns, concepts and timing,” Bender said of adjusting to Huber’s offense. “As we’ve gone on it’s been an offense fulling connecting with Huber, getting the plays in and executing them how we need to. I think we just needed time. From the first game on we knew over time that this was going to work.
“This is the system we want to be in. This is a great system for Charlie Cassady running the ball. With him running the ball and the combination of him and Adam’s arm, we knew once it fully clicked we could hit on all cylinders and put up a lot of points. That’s what you’ve seen the last couple of weeks. In the Reedsburg game last week it felt like the floodgates opened. That was exactly what we needed.”
Retrum had two catches for 93 yards and all three of Horkan’s catches totaling 74 yards went for scores.
Armstrong, who entered the game top 10 statewide in rushing touchdowns and total yardage, had 36 carries for 122 yards. Armstrong was held under 50 yards in the first half.
“The defensive line, linebackers and outside linebackers were playing fast,” Huber said. “All week we were telling the kids about him. We were prepared for him and I thought the kids played well.”
Mauston (5-2) hasn’t won a playoff game since 2001.
The L-Cats face top-seeded Lakeside Lutheran, which defeated fourth-seeded Edgewood 31-10, at LLHS in Level 2 for the regional championship.
The game is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. at Lakeside Lutheran High School
“It’s the state championship in our eyes,” Bender said.
LAKE MILLS 56, MAUSTON 20
Mauston 0 6 8 6 — 20
Lake Mills 21 7 14 14 — 56
LM: Moen 1 run (Lund kick), 7:11
LM: Horkan 24 pass from Moen (Lund kick), 4:24
LM: Horkan 27 pass from Moen (Lund kick), 1:05
LM: Bender 1 pass from Moen (Lund kick), 5:24
M: Luehman 17 pass from Lehman (kick failed), 2:51
M: Cafferty 5 pass from Lehman (Armstrong run), 8:25
LM: Cassady 2 run (Lund kick), 6:45
LM: Moen 10 run (Lund kick), 2:04
M: Cafferty 13 pass from Lehman (pass failed), 8:45
LM: Retrum 51 pass from Moen (Lund kick), 7:57
LM: Horkan 20 pass from Moen (Lund kick), 6:18
First downs — M 13, LM 11. Rushing (Att.-Yds.) — M 41-103; LM 21-202. Passing yards — M 195; LM 302. Passes (Comp.-Att.-Int.) — M 15-22-1; LM 17-25-2. Penalties-yards — M 3-20; LM 2-30.
Rushing — M: Armstrong 36-122; LM: Cassady 9-84.
Passing — M: Lehman 15-22-0 195; LM: Moen 17-25-2 302.
Receiving — M: Luehman 9-115; LM: Horkan 3-74; Retrum 2-93.