LAKE MILLS — Traditionally, the Lodi football team uses a punishing ground game to wear down opponents a few yards at a time.
The Blue Devils flipped that script Friday night, as senior Jacob Heyroth broke a series of back-breaking big-play runs to rout Lake Mills 55-24 in a Capitol North Conference showdown at Lake Mills Middle School.
Heyroth, a 6-foot, 1-inch, 195-pound running back, rushed for 260 yards and five touchdowns on only 14 carries. He added a kickoff return for a score.
“We knew we were going to be able to run the ball, and we didn’t really want to put the ball in the air against (Lake Mills quarterback Ben) Dunkleberger,” said Lodi coach Dave Puls, whose team racked up 400 yards rushing on 36 attempts. “Our offensive line, fullbacks and receivers blocked extraordinarily well.”
Along with the dominant ground attack, Lodi limited Dunkleberger. The 5-11, 170-pound senior was held to just 21 yards rushing on 14 attempts and went 17-for-31 with 205 yards a touchdown and an interception.
“We were giving the ball back to one of the most dangerous athletes in the southern part of the state and we had to stay the course and weather the storm,” Puls said. “We knew they threw the ball 40 to 50 times a game and they’re going to complete passes, but as things went along we started to get to Dunkleberger more.”
Each team entered with a perfect record and a state ranking.
Lodi (5-0, 1-0 Capitol North) did nothing to soil its No. 1 ranking among medium-sized schools in The Associated Press’ weekly rankings.
Lake Mills (4-1, 0-1) came in ranked No. 6.
Both teams came out firing, trading scores en route to a 14-14 tie in the first quarter. Lodi was on the march again in the early second quarter, facing a fourth-and-goal play from the Lake Mills 2-yard line, but the L-Cats stuffed the outside run.
But Lodi’s defense forced a three-and-out and took a short punt at the Lodi 31. Soon afterward Heyroth scored on a 1-yard plunge for a 21-14 lead.
The Lodi defense forced another punt and covered 63 yards in two plays, with Heyroth running 39 and 24 yards to make it 28-14.
After another Lake Mills punt, Heyroth broke an 89-yard scoring run for a 35-14 lead with two minutes left before halftime.
“That was when I felt that maybe this is going to work out tonight, but we didn’t want anyone to let down,” Puls said. “Even with that little bit of a lead, I was worried our kids might let down our guard because we know they can score that fast.”
Heyroth put the game away with 8:05 left in the third quarter with a 39-yard touchdown for a 55-17 lead, forcing a running clock. The score followed an 84-yard touchdown run by Mitch Nellen and a 55-yard interception return by senior defensive back Dominic Scola.
While Puls didn’t expect the 31-point victory, he knows the Blue Devils can’t slow down as they continue through the Capitol North.
“I’m really excited about what we can do moving forward,” he said. “But we have to keep it down and keep the pedal to the metal.”
Lodi 14 21 20 0 — 55
Lake Mills 14 3 0 7 — 24
Lo — Heyroth 3 run (Curtis kick)
LM — Iverson 20 pass from Dunkleberger (Mitchell kick)
Lo — Heyroth 77 kickoff return
LM — Dunkleberger 3 run (Mitchell kick)
Lo — Heyroth 1 run (Curtis kick)
Lo — Heyroth 24 run (Curtis kick)
Lo — Heyroth 89 run (Curtis kick)
LM — FG Mitchell 30
Lo — Nellen 84 run (Curtis kick)
Lo — Scola 55 interception
Lo — Heyroth 39 run (Curtis kick)
LM — Moen 1 run (Mitchell kick)
First downs — Lo 9, LM 14. Rushing (Att.-Yds.) — Lo 36-400, LM 22-27. Passing yards — Lo 48, LM 277. Passes (Comp.-Att.-Int.) — Lo 3-3-0, LM 24-41-1. Fumbles-lost — Lo 0-0, LM 0-0. Penalties-yards — Lo 3-21, LM 1-15.
Rushing: Lo, Heyroth 14-260. LM, Dunkleberger 14-21.
Passing: Lo, McDonald 3-3-0-48. LM, Dunkleberger 17-31-1-205.
Receiving: Lo, Rashid 3-48. LM, Iverson 10-113.